Bottom Line
Road Law
Couldn’t see the forest for the trees

Have you heard the old saying, “he just couldn’t see the forest for the trees” and wonder just exactly what it meant? When you can’t “see the forest for the trees,” you’re usually more concerned about responding to something that’s right in front of you, right now, rather than taking the time to consider exactly what you’re doing and how your response will affect you. It means you’re only thinking about the “here and now” and not considering the future. It means you didn’t take a minute to stop, step back and consider how your actions today can affect your future tomorrow. It means you’re not looking at the big picture.

For example, when you’re stopped for a ticket you don’t think you deserve, it’s natural to want to argue with the officer on the spot. It’s natural to want to explain, in great detail, how you couldn’t possibly be guilty. It’s natural to want to call the court clerk and tell her/him why it’s just not fair that you got the ticket. But, when you get a ticket and let your emotions take over, you’re not considering the damage you’re doing to yourself just for the immediate gratification of blowing off a little steam.

Here’s the bottom line. Some of the most important advice we can give you has nothing to do with the law. It has to do with being smart. It has to do with being professional. It has to do with looking beyond the initial frustration of receiving a ticket in order to protect your livelihood. It has to do with seeing the big picture … seeing the forest. Here’s the truth.

QuestionI got a speeding ticket but I was driving less than the speed limit and I can prove it! Can I fight the ticket?

Answer: Yes, of course you can fight the ticket. And we recommend that, in most cases, you do fight your tickets. But, think about what’s involved when you fight a ticket. Think about what you really want. Of course, you want your bogus ticket dismissed with no fines or court costs. But in reality, that’s not going to happen unless you take time off to appear in court and either the officer doesn’t appear or you win after a full blown trial.

What you really want is the ticket not to appear on your MVR, right? And the best way to do that is to simply call our office so we can tell you about the particular court your ticket is going to, whether the feds will stick their nose into the matter and what your home state will have to say about it. Yes, the call to our office is free. The talk is free. No, you don’t have to join any kind of crazy “legal membership club.” Believe us, you’ll feel much better once you’re able to make an informed decision about what you should do.

Question: I heard that if I get a speeding ticket, the cop has to show me the radar screen. Is that true?

Answer: No. The cop doesn’t have to show you his radar screen or anything else for that matter. In fact, even if you do get a chance to see the radar, how would you know if the indicated speed showing on the screen is actually your speed or one that’s been sitting on there for a month! That’s right, you don’t know, so we recommend you never ask to see a cop’s radar screen. Frankly, asking to see the radar screen is totally irrelevant, argumentative and usually just pisses the officer off. Once the officer is upset, he/she will usually remember you and will usually tell the county attorney not to give you any relief when you go to court.

Question: I was pulled over by a cop for “following too close.” The cop and I got into an argument over the ticket and I asked for his badge number and supervisor’s name. He wouldn’t tell me and left me on the side of the road with the ticket. Doesn’t the cop have to give me his badge number and any other information I want?

Answer: No! Again, there is nothing to be gained by arguing with the officer on the side of the road. It’s dangerous and it’s going to tie your attorney’s hands when he/she argues your case in court. Besides, on most tickets, the officer will sign his name and write down his badge number. If you want to call an officer’s supervisor to make a complaint, you usually have all of the information right on the ticket. But remember, if you want any real chance of getting out of the ticket, you’ll want to wait until after your case is heard before you file a grievance.

We hope you can use the information in this column to help with every day, real life problems you face on the road. We invite you to send us any questions or comments you may have regarding transportation law to ROAD LAW, 1330 N. Classen Blvd., Suite 215, Oklahoma City, OK 73106; fax to (405) 272-0558 or contact us through our web site at We look forward to hearing from you.