Road Law – December/January 2020-21
Between a rock and a hard place
Jeff McConnell and James Mennella
Many of the calls we deal with on a daily basis are related to convictions on a motor vehicle record and pending or past suspensions/disqualifications prescribed by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations. The following driver had a situation where he had been disqualified for two “serious” traffic violations and was having difficulty with employment. He wanted to see if we could help clean up his record and do something about the prior convictions on his record.
Q: I paid a ticket in Oklahoma and received a disqualification notice from the state of Texas that my CDL license was going to be disqualified for 60 days because I had two serious violations within a three-year period. I had no idea that paying the violations would cause this problem. and after serving my disqualification I am having further problems with employment. Can you help me?
A: In your case, since so much time has passed since your convictions and any right to appeal is long gone, the only option is to try to vacate your guilty plea using the Post-Conviction Procedure Act. If successful, this would vacate your guilty plea and reset your case for further disposition with the court.
Q: I would like to pursue this option. How long will it take?
A: The actual preparation of the petition doesn’t take long.
However, because of COVID-19, many of the courts are very slow to set motion hearings, and so there is no way to give you a good estimate.
Q: Will I need to appear?
A: In these cases, it is always best for you to appear in case the judge wants to hear testimony. Also, there are several steps to the process in order to accomplish the desired result. First, we have to be successful on getting the case reset and get the original conviction removed from your motor vehicle record. Second, the case will be set for either a pre-trial conference or a trial and negotiations with the prosecutor will take place to see if an amended charge is a workable solution. If there is no amendment, then the case will proceed to a trial where a judge or jury will determine the outcome.
What eventually happened in this case is that upon the motion hearing the prosecutor objected to reopening the case. The prosecutor was unwilling to amend the charge even if the judge agreed to reset the matter, and said we could resolve the issue at a trial if we so desired.
This left the client with the difficult decision to decide, whether he wanted to take the risk of vacating an old conviction, having no recommendation from the prosecutor, and the chance that he might have a newer conviction of the same charge – which would cause another disqualification like the one he had already served, and he would continue to experience the same problems he had when he started the process.
Ultimately, he decided to abandon the effort, because it wasn’t worth the risk. 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.
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