Restitution Hearing Defenses in Okaloosa County Traffic Related Criminal Cases

In a vehicle accident case, like Reckless Driving, DUI with Property Damage, or Leaving the Scene (Hit and Run), many times the other party with try to establish restitution based on an estimate from Collision Center. Repair estimate records are inadmissible hearsay, and therefore, cannot be considered by a Judge in Okaloosa County. Damage or loss must be based on actual, competent knowledge. In addition, the vehicle owner is not qualified to testify regarding repair costs, where owner’s sole knowledge of costs came from estimates received from others.

Another brilliant and important tactic is to challenge the condition of the vehicle before and after the incident. This is especially true in cases where the vehicle was not totaled. Why? Because it is legally impossible for the court to arrive at a total amount of awarded damages based on the fair market value (Kelly Blue Book, NADA), because the residual value of the vehicle must first be subtracted from the restitution award. With no evidence to show the residual value, the Court cannot make a fair ruling. Please note, establishing these defenses require a timely objection by your attorney.

In addition, no claimant should be entitled to repair costs or replacement value of a car, truck or other vehicle. They are only entitled to the fair market value based on the amount of damage.

So for example, if the truck is worth no more than $5000; and the truck was not totaled because damage was to only part of the truck, then he should only be allowed to collect a percentage of the fair market value minus the residual value, which must be less than $5000. This is also true if the repair costs are more than the fair market value. Again, restitution should still be capped at no more than $5000.

If you’ve been cited after traffic accident, such as reckless operation or a DUI that caused property damage, give me a call at (850) 362-6655 for a free consultation.