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In the zone

By Jeff Terrill

Fort Wayne Reader

2013-09-22


Construction zones can be dangerous places, and with men and women working so close to the passing cars it’s important that speeds are slow. It’s also important for drivers to be attentive and not distracted when driving in a construction zone.

In Indiana, a person who recklessly operates a vehicle in the immediate vicinity of a highway work zone when workers are present commits a Class A misdemeanor, which is punishable up to one year in jail. The offense is a Class D felony and punishable up to three years in prison if the act results in bodily injury to a worker in the worksite. The crime can be charged as a Class C felony and lead to an eight-year prison sentence if a worksite worker dies.

Meet Angela. She is a busy mother of three great kids. She’s not a real person. Angela runs her own business and spends a good part of her day carpooling kids to and from all of their activities. Angela considers herself a safe driver even though she has received a few traffic tickets over the years.

A few days ago, Angela was heading from her son’s school to her oldest daughter’s soccer game. Angela was a few minutes behind schedule and the road construction in her town wasn’t helping. In one spot, cars traveling in both directions were forced to share the same stretch of road in an alternating order. Orange signs, blinking lights and pylons dotted the roadway all in an effort to get drivers to slow down and pay attention.

Angela was paying attention even though she was in a hurry. As she approached the work zone, she noticed the car ahead of her was ordered to stop while cars traveling in the opposite direction advanced in the single lane of travel. While stopped, Angela’s husband called. He was running late and explained to Angela that he couldn’t pick up their other child from dance class.

Angela was irritated even before her son spilled his drink in the back seat. She looked back to assess the damage only to hear him say, “Mom, go.” Angela turned around and started to drive. As she went to hang up the phone, she heard someone yell, “No.” Just then, Angela noticed cars were heading toward her and she had no place to go. She jerked her car to the right and hit some uneven payment and then a barrel. The barrel bounced on the pavement and into a worksite worker knocking him down. Angela jumped out of the car and ran to the man on the ground.

He was holding his right thigh. Angela apologized and explained to the man that she was on the phone and then turned around when her son spilled his drink…

Minutes later, Angela explained the same thing to the police officer once he arrived.

The next day, Angela contacted her insurance agent to check on the well being of the man hit by the barrel. He was doing much better. No broken bones -- just a deep bruise. Angela was relieved.

That will change in a few days when she learns that she is being charged with recklessly operating her car in a construction zone, a Class D felony.

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Jeff Terrill is a partner/shareholder with the law firm of Arnold Terrill Anzini, P.C. Mr. Terrill represents clients accused of crimes throughout northeast Indiana. You can contact Mr. Terrill with any questions or comments at his office at 260.420.7777 or via email at jterrill@fortwaynedefense.com. Learn more about his firm at www.fortwaynedefense.com. This article expressed opinions and observations of the author, is not intended as legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship between the author and the reader. Please consult a qualified attorney with any legal questions or issues you might have. Thank you.

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