If you got it, use it
Jeff McConnell and James Mennella
We want to talk about what’s really important when you receive a traffic ticket or when you’re involved in any kind of traffic accident.
First, you should write a statement, in your own words, about what happened in your matter and save it so you can revise or add to it if needed.
Second, get a regular, noncertified copy of your current, three-year driver record. If you have a good record, we can usually use your history as part of your defense.
Third, and particularly if you were cited with a speeding infraction, you may want to have your vehicle’s speedometer recalibrated and submit your shop repair receipt to us. If you believe your vehicle’s speed at the time you received the subject ticket may have been wrong due to a defective speedometer or related part, buy a new speedometer or speedometer part and submit a copy of your part purchase receipt to us.
The reason to do these three things listed above is simple. If you have a good driver record and a shop repair or part purchase receipt, you’ll want to get these items to us so we can use them to help with your defense in court.
Here are a few examples of recent calls we received where we asked the driver for a current driver record and shop repair or part purchase receipt. As always, we hope this information is helpful to you.
Q: I received my first ticket in more than 10 years for “speeding 75 mph in a 55 mph zone,” but I know my truck is governed and can’t drive that fast. I explained to the trooper that I couldn’t have been going 20 mph over the limit, but he wrote me a ticket anyway. What do I do now?
A: First, because the trooper wrote the citation for “speeding 75 mph in a 55 mph zone,” your charge is considered to be a “serious” violation, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations so you do not want to simply pay this ticket and admit guilt. We’ll need to enter a plea of “not guilty” and have your matter set for a contested hearing. From the time we request a contested hearing until the actual date of the hearing, we’ll have time to collect the following information from you:
- Copy of the ticket.
- Your statement of fact, in your own words, telling us what happened in this matter.
- Copy of your three-year, noncertified driver record.
- If you believe that your alleged speed could have been the result of a defective speedometer or related speedometer part, send us a copy of your purchase receipt for the new speedometer or part you bought. Or, if you believe that your alleged speed could have been the result of an improperly calibrated speedometer, have your speedometer recalibrated and send us a copy of your shop repair receipt for the same.
When we go to court on your behalf, we don’t want to begin the conversations or negotiations with the district attorney’s office by criticizing the trooper who wrote you the ticket. Instead, we’ve found that conversations/negotiations with the district attorney’s office are much more successful when we discuss how good of a driver you’ve been in the past by providing a copy of your driver history; when we can submit a copy of a part-purchase or shop -repair receipt for an alleged, but now-corrected, defect from the vehicle you were operating at the time; and when we take the time to provide positive information about you to the district attorney instead of providing negative information about the citing trooper, our opportunity for success in your case is greatly increased.
Q: I got a ticket in Nebraska for “failing to stop at stop sign.” When the officer gave me the ticket, he said that he didn’t actually see me “fail to stop,” but he received a call from another driver who said I didn’t stop. That’s crazy! I stopped! Now what do I do?
A: First, when you receive a ticket from an officer that admittedly didn’t personally witness the alleged traffic violation, you’re way ahead of the game because, if your matter actually went to trial, the citing officer cannot testify to something he or she didn’t personally witness. Instead, the district attorney would have to subpoena the alleged witness who reported the matter and they would have to appear in court. So, most likely, the district attorney won’t want to spend the time trying to get the actual witness to appear in court and may be much more likely to amend or dismiss your charge.
If you really want to increase your odds in having your charge amended or dismissed and you have a good driver record, send a copy of the same to the district attorney. And, if you believe that your alleged “failure to stop” may have been due to a defective braking component, give the district attorney a part-purchase or shop repair receipt for the brake part or repair. Remember, if you have these helpful pieces of information, be sure to use them. 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.