Published Date Written by David CarkhuffJoseph Fitzsimmons, 52, of Raymond vowed to fight a charge of driving to endanger after he drove his car backward down Congress Street.
A truck driver for a living, he said he risks losing truck-driving jobs due to the arrest on Aug. 1 following an incident in which he pursued another vehicle by driving his 1998 Dodge Avenger in reverse.
"There is no law in the state of Maine saying that you cannot drive backwards," Fitzsimmons contended. "It says if you're parked on the side of the street and you're trying to pull out of your driveway, you can't pull into oncoming traffic."
"I simply drove backwards down the street 15 to 20 mph until I could find a place to turn around. The first place I found to turn around I turned around," Fitzsimmons said.
A woman took his ex-wife's keys without permission and was driving her own car down Congress Street when he spotted her, Fitzsimmons said.
"I didn't spin around, I backed into a spot and turned around," he said. "Then, I got out of the car, I was behind the person, and I asked her to give me my keys. She refused to give me my keys. I told her I was going to call the cops, and I turned around and there were cops everywhere."
The police arrested him, and let the woman go, Fitzsimmons said.
Officer Nick Goodman of the Crime Reduction Unit initially observed the incident. By the time Fitzsimmons was in custody there were numerous officers and vehicles at the scene, police reported.
The incident began Wednesday night when Fitzsimmons was stopped at the High and Congress streets intersection. He proceeded westbound but, when ex-wife had called him to let him know her keys had been stolen. He saw the woman driving eastbound down Congress Street so he simply drove backward.
"I couldn't find a place to turn around," Fitzsimmons said, but he denied speeding.
"I had full control of my vehicle. ... and I had full view of everything around me," he said.
"When I stopped down there by the stoplight by CVS, I turned the car around and got up behind her, and asked for my keys back," Fitzsimmons said.
On Aug. 30, he plans to go to traffic court to contest the Class E misdemeanor.
A bit of irony: the black 1998 Dodge Avenger he was driving is an ex-police car from Arizona.