Could sliding on a patch of ice, off the road result in a traffic ticket? It happened to one Oklahoma woman. But her frightening story has a happy ending.
News on 6 reporter Heather Johnson has the story. "And my first thought was Tim and I are gonna be killed." Diana Ehlers was headed west on the Cimarron Turnpike when she hit an icy patch, lost control and slid down this steep embankment.
Ehlers and her disabled son huddled together in their van for two hours waiting for help to arrive. "He had trouble finding us cuz we were down as they called it the ravine. So they couldn't find us at first. They finally did find us and it was very cold, I couldn't turn the motor on because I was afraid we'd be asphyxiated, the muffler was in the snow."
When the tow truck driver got there oncoming traffic made Ehlers fear for his safety, so she called the Oklahoma Highway Patrol for protection. What she got was totally unexpected. "I didn't realize that when you went off into the ditch, you'd get a citation." A $162 citation, for "operating a motor vehicle at a speed that's not reasonable and proper."
Ehlers insists she wasn't driving unsafely. "No, I didn't think it was fair, but I guess I'll have to pay it." Her daughter didn't think it was fair either, so she sent in a complaint to the OHP. Officials reviewed the incident and decided to drop the ticket. Lt Chris West, OHP: â€œWe looked at the totality of everything and there wasn't any damage, nobody got hurt there wasn't property damage, we just felt it was more appropriate to not do this. I mean it was bad enough she was gonna have to pay for a wrecker to get her vehicle out."
Lt. West says the statute that covers losing control is written broadly and is up to the trooper's discretion, based on the scene. In the end, the OHP ruled this wasn't an accident. When we told Ehler the news, she was overjoyed. "Oh that is wonderful!"
The OHP says losing control of a vehicle is a misdemeanor offense. Troopers evaluate it on a case-by-case basis, looking at whether damage or injuries occurred, also road conditions and speed, before issuing a citation.