BikePortland.org

Citizen citation yields success; driver pleads “no contest”

Lawyer Chris Heaps was not
satisfied with the Police response
to a bike/car crash, so he
pursued justice himself…and got it.
(Photo © J. Maus)

Christopher Heaps, the Portland lawyer who mounted a “citizen initiated” campaign last December to bring the driver who hit Siobhan Doyle to justice, says we can “chalk one up for the good guys.”

Heaps learned this morning that the driver, Lisa Wheeler, has plead “no contest” and will have to pay a $182 fine for violation of ORS 811.050, or “failure to yield to a bicycle in a bike lane”.

Back in November, Doyle was riding her bike down N. Interstate Ave. when Wheeler, who was also traveling on Interstate turned right onto Greeley, hitting Doyle in the process. The collision put Doyle in the hospital with serious injuries, but due to Police policies that (used to) only require investigations when “Trauma-level” injuries were sustained, no investigation was performed at the scene, and therefore, no citation was issued.

Heaps felt it was unjust that Wheeler would not be held accountable for a clear violation of a Oregon traffic law — so he decided to pursue justice on his own.

“This is a victory for everyone who wants to have safer streets in Portland and who expects there to be consequences for those who injure and kill others.”
–Chris Heaps

Using a little-known Oregon statute that allows any citizen to initiate a “violation proceeding” against another citizen, Heaps followed all the required steps, even persisting through red tape at the courthouse, to serve Wheeler with a citation.

Wheeler was arraigned on the charges at the Justice Center in downtown Portland this morning where she entered her guilty plea and agreed to pay a fine. Heaps says KGW-TV was there and they plan to broadcast the story, along with an interview with Heaps, today at noon.

Heaps is understandably pleased with the outcome. “I’m pretty psyched about it,” he said, “it shows that the citizen initiated violation process can really work.”

In a comment below, Heaps added that, “This is a victory for everyone who wants to have safer streets in Portland and who expects there to be consequences for those who injure and kill others. Hopefully, this is just the beginning of some big changes in the way people use our roadways.”

Heaps, along with help from other community members including author Joe “Metal Cowboy” Kurmaskie, will now turn their attention to a citizen citation effort in the case of Brett Jarolimek, who was killed in a similar crash just weeks before Doyle at the same intersection.


For more information on the citizen initiation of violation proceedings process, read the article I published in January 2006, New campaign to bring motorists to justice.

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