Road Law – August/September 2020
Can they or can I?
Jeff McConnell and James Mennella
We recently received a letter from an OOIDA member with several questions that we thought would be good to share. These events are not common and don’t happen all of the time, but it is still good to be aware.
Q: I parked my semi in front of my house. While I was inside for a few hours, an officer gave me a parking ticket. He never knocked on my door to ask me to move my truck. Can an officer write a parking ticket with your name, address and driver license information without ever seeing your driver’s license?
A: Normally, parking tickets are issued with just the vehicle license plate information. However, with the technology available in the law enforcement vehicles, the officer may have been able to run the license plate information to find the registered owner or he may have Googled the address to find a name and other information and was thorough enough to find your driver’s license information. There is nothing inherently wrong with the practice, but it is not the norm.
Also, it is often against a city ordinance to park a commercial motor vehicle in a residential neighborhood, so you have to be careful for overzealous code enforcement officers or neighbors who don’t like commercial motor vehicles in the neighborhood and call to complain.
Q: I heard a story that a woman was speeding and was pulled over by the highway patrol. When asked why she was speeding, she told the officer she was going to the hospital to see Jane Doe. The patrolman later called the hospital to check to see if there was a Jane Doe there and was told no such patient existed, so he asked the county attorney to issue a citation to the driver. Can a county attorney send you a ticket a week after an incident?
A: Yes. It is not uncommon for a citation or summons to court to be issued after an incident has taken place. This happens frequently in crash investigations and other scenarios where a charge is brought at a later time. In this situation, it is likely the charge wasn’t for speeding but was for providing false information to a police officer.
Q: I was driving down the interstate following a four-wheel vehicle. The vehicle driver decided to slam on the brakes for no apparent reason, causing me to slam on my brakes and change lanes to avoid hitting them. I have a dashcam that recorded the incident and want to know if I can send the clip to the highway patrol and have the car charged with reckless driving?
A: Sure. This is called a “motorist complaint,” and it happens every day around the country.
There are lots of bad drivers out there, and some just want to get involved in a crash with a commercial motor vehicle for insurance reasons.
If you really want to hold these types of people accountable, be sure to save the visual evidence as well as write down what occurred. Since you are the complainant, and the responding officer will not have witnessed the event personally, be prepared to come back to court to testify against the driver if they choose to dispute the charges issued by the officer. LL
Send any questions or comments regarding transportation law to: Jeff McConnell and James Mennella, Road Law, 3441 W. Memorial, Suite 4, Oklahoma City, OK 73134; call 405-242-2030, fax 888-588-8983, or contact them via RoadLaw.net.
This column is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the opinions of Land Line Magazine or its publisher. Please remember everyone’s legal situation is different. Consult with an attorney for specific advice on your situation.