Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Georgia Supreme Court holds SOL Tolled while Traffic Citation Pending

The Supreme Court held yesterday that O.C.G.A. § 9-3-99 tolls the statute of limitations for any tort action from the date of the defendant’s traffic offense until the prosecution of the traffic offense becomes final or is terminated, as long as that time does not exceed six years. See Benke v. Parker, S08G2078, S08G2082, Sept. 28, 2009.

A violation of one of the Uniform Rules of the Road, such as the rule that a OCGA § 16-2-1 (a) provides that “[a] ‘crime’ is a violation of a statute of this state in which there is a joint operation of an act or omission to act and intention or criminal negligence.” A driver must not follow another vehicle too closely. Doing so is a is a misdemeanor, OCGA §40-6-1 (a), and a misdemeanor is “any crime other than a felony.”

To impose a more stringent definition of “crime” within the context of the statute would render superfluous its language that the statute of limitation is tolled from the date of the alleged crime “or the act giving rise to such action in tort” until the prosecution or other termination of such crime “or act.”

Find the opinion online here.