Bottom Line
Road Law
Foot in the trap

By Jeff McConnell & James Mennella, Attorneys at law

When a bear gets his foot caught in a trap, is his most important goal to stop the bleeding? No. Is the bear’s most important goal not to lose his foot? No. The bear’s most important goal is to get out of the friggin’ trap and to live to fight another day.

We’ve seen all types of tickets and charges over the years while defending drivers against traffic infractions, misdemeanors and even felony charges across the United States and Canada. The most common mistake drivers make when they receive a ticket is immediately getting into a “win-lose” thought process.

Believe it or not, the term “win” has different meanings to different people. For example, we’re in the business of protecting drivers’ records, i.e., keeping the worst of the worst off their motor vehicle record so they can remain qualified to drive.

So when we’re successful in keeping the “worst of the worst” off a particular driver’s mvr, that’s an absolute “win” for us – even though the driver has to pay some fine money and may even end up with a conviction of a different charge. It’s still a “win” for us because we’ve protected the driver’s record.

Here’s a question we recently received and our answer regarding “winning” a traffic case.

Q. I got a ticket in Kentucky for “following too closely” when I was in rush hour traffic, going 2 mph and didn’t even have an accident. How can the officer write me a ticket for following too close? This is B.S. I want to fight this ticket, and I want it dismissed.

A. You have a ticket. So now, unfortunately, you’re the bear in the trap and you need to think about what you’ll have to do to escape and live to fight another day. Stop thinking about your traffic case as something you “win” or “lose.” Think of it as something you “survive.” Just like the bear, you’re usually going to lose a little blood and bone (in the form of money in your case) but, if you’re smart, you’ll escape and live to fight another day.

We want to highlight the term “win” and what that word really means to you. When you’re the bear and your life (driver record in your case) is on the line, “winning” doesn’t necessarily require that your case get dismissed or that you go to a full-blown trial and win.

You “win” by incurring the least amount of harm to your driver record. Think about it. Not having to pay money to a court isn’t your goal. It would be nice not to pay money for a ticket you shouldn’t have received in the first place. But saving money, in and of itself, isn’t your goal. Your goal, your true purpose, is surviving and that means protecting your driver record.

In this case, you received a ticket for “following too closely,” which just happens to be one of the eight “serious” category violations according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations.

As you know, a conviction of two serious-category violations within a three-year period will result in a 60-day disqualification of your commercial driver license and a permanent blemish on your driver record. So, at all costs, you’ve got to prevent being convicted of this particular charge.

Even if you’re convicted of an amended charge, as long as the charge isn’t “serious,” you’ve “won.” Take the points for a much less harmful charge, pay your fines and costs, and live to fight another day. 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 405-242-2040, or e-mail