Police officers use their own discretion in deciding whether or not to cite a negligent or careless driver at a collision scene. Drunk or reckless drivers are going to be cited, or charged with a crime. However, police may not cite drivers who commit lesser offenses, like speeding, or even failing to obey a traffic signal.
The general rule in Oregon is that convictions for moving violations are not admissible in a civil claim against the negligent driver for personal injury or property damage. The commentary that accompanies this rule of evidence explains that these convictions are not inherently reliable indicators of an admission of fault. The rationale is that the driver receiving the citation may not believe that he or she is guilty of the moving infraction, but has chosen not to go through the time and expense of contesting the ticket. However, if the driver cited with a moving violation pleads "not guilty," and testifies in a court of record, that testimony can be introduced at a later trial or hearing to prove liability.
This rule of evidence does not apply to more serious infractions, like a felony hit and run, or a felony assault conviction arising from a collision. In some cases, a plaintiff may choose to defer any lawsuit until after a criminal conviction because a guilty plea to a serious crime may prevent the defendant from denying responsibility in a later civil case.
If you have questions about a recent collision, in Oregon or Washington, call us at 503-325-8600. We have extensive experience handling serious injury claims.