A woman whose car landed in a snowbank as she was exiting a Michigan freeway was slapped with a speeding ticket by a police officer that didn’t witness the incident and arrived ten minutes after it occurred.
Kris Matthys was on her way to work when she exited interstate 696 in Warren, Michigan. The roads were covered in several inches of snow and Matthys, like many other drivers in the state that day, wound up losing control of her car and landed in snow that had piled up between the freeway and the exit ramp. She told The Detroit News, “I ended up sideways, and the way I was sitting, I was afraid I’d get hit by other cars, so I called 911 and told them I wasn’t hurt, but that my car was in a dangerous position.”
A few minutes later a tow truck and police officer arrived. When the officer asked for her license, registration, and insurance, Matthys figured that he was getting the information to file an incident report. Instead, she told WDIV Local 4, the officer issued her a speeding ticket and told her, "’Well you didn't hit anything or anybody, but you're getting a ticket.’" She insisted that she was driving with the flow of traffic and it was the weather conditions, not her velocity that caused her to end up off the road. Matthys said, “I was shocked…Getting a ticket was the last thing I expected. The cop wasn’t even there. How does he know I was driving too fast?”
According to Michigan State Police Lieutenant Michael Shaw, an officer can still determine if a motorist was driving too fast and can issue a ticket, even without witnessing the car spinning out. Lt. Shaw told The Detroit News, “We try to explain this to citizens all the time: If you’re driving down the freeway and you go through a certain spot just fine, but I wipe out and lose control, then I violated basic speed law.” The lieutenant added, “Probably 1,000 other cars were able to go onto that exit with no problem, but she wiped out, so she’s in violation. You can’t blame the snowbank.”
The citation carries a $90 fine and two points on a driver’s license, plus Matthys had a $100 charge from the tow truck.
Ms. Matthys feels the ticket was issued unfairly and she plans to fight it in court. “I’d like to know how a police officer who wasn’t even there was able to determine I was driving too fast because I got stuck in a snowbank,” said Matthys. “Does that mean if I get stuck in the snow pulling out of my driveway, I was also driving too fast? It’s ridiculous.”