Road Law – July 2019
Mission possible or impossible?
Jeff McConnell and James Mennella
You’ve likely heard it before, but it’s worth repeating again: please don’t just pay a traffic ticket until you know how it might harm your driving record. This includes tickets that you receive while operating a noncommercial vehicle if you hold a commercial driver license and if you receive a notice from a department of motor vehicles about suspension or disqualification, please don’t ignore it.
Q: I have a citation for driving while disqualified in Arkansas. Can you help me?
A: Yes. Why are you disqualified and can you get your license reinstated prior to the court date on your new citation?
Q: I am disqualified for one year for paying a driving-while-disqualified citation that I received earlier this year.
A: What state did you pay the driving-while-disqualified citation? And why was your license originally disqualified?
Q: All of my citations were issued in the state of Arkansas, and I was convicted of two serious violations in a three-year period. I received a notice from the Department of Motor Vehicles about a 60-day disqualification of my CDL, but during that time period, I continued to drive.
A: You certainly don’t want to pay the most recent citation, because it will trigger a longer disqualification period than you already have. In order to resolve your problem, it will require some pretty extraordinary post-conviction relief and any successful effort on this matter will require us to:
- Extend your current driving-while-disqualified citation out as far as we can in the future so we can try to resolve the violations that have already been paid.
- We will need to go back to the court where you paid the first driving-while-disqualified citation and file a motion for post-conviction relief with a request to vacate the prior guilty plea. If that is successful, the matter can be placed back on the court calendar, hopefully far enough down the road that we can try to resolve the original 60-day disqualification issue. Also, we will need to try and get the DMV to clear your record of the conviction, which would terminate the one-year disqualification. However, they may not agree to modify your record until the case is resolved in the same court.
- The next step is to choose one or both of the serious violation citations that you paid and file another motion for post-conviction relief. If we can get one or both of the convictions removed and amended to nonserious violations, then your DMV should correct your record and the original 60 day disqualification would have to be withdrawn.
- Assuming we are successful to this point, we would need to resolve the two driving-while-disqualified citations with proof that your original disqualification was no longer valid and that the charges should be dismissed or amended to another nondisqualifying offense.
Theoretically, the above resolution is possible. However, there are numerous factors that make this a very challenging and costly project. First, all of the courts involved would need to be receptive to post-conviction relief and also agree to amend the original charge to something more favorable to the client. The last hurdle is the Department of Motor Vehicles and their interpretation of the masking provisions, whether they will remove factually based disqualifications and actually correct the driving record.
The best way to avoid this driver’s situation is to never be convicted of your first “serious” violation and if you happen to be facing any suspension or disqualification, try to resolve it prior to any actual action by the DMV to limit your driving ability. 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 us 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.