Traffic Citations: Elements of the Offense

The Georgia Court of Appeals has overturned a conviction for a traffic offense based on the fact that the officer only listed the title of the offense and the code section.  See Strickland v. The State, A18A1829 (2019).

In the case in question, the citation was written for the offense of “Following too closely” with the code section being 40-6-49 O.C.G.A.

The issuing officer did not provide any remarks on the citation establishing the elements of the offense of “Following too closely”.  The court reasoned,

“the true test of the sufficiency of an indictment or accusation or citation
is not whether it could have been made more definite and certain (or, for
that matter, perfect,) but whether it contains the elements of the offense
intended to be charged, and sufficiently apprises the defendant of what
he must be prepared to meet, and in case any other proceedings are taken
against him for a similar offense, whether the record shows with
accuracy to what extent he may plead a former acquittal or conviction.”

In other words, the citation needs to list the facts necessary to establish the elements of the offense.

A simple listing of the details of the offense written in the remarks section should be sufficient.