Road Law
Creativity at work

By Jeff McConnell & James Mennella, Attorneys at law

Even in the legal profession there are times you have to be creative. There is usually always more than one way to “skin a cat.” And in difficult situations, we are often called upon to figure out how to do that. In today’s enforcement climate, it’s getting more difficult to find adequate relief for CDL holders, and on those occasions when your back is against the wall, being creative may save the day. The following is one of our recent “creative” moments.

Q. Dear Mr. Prosecutor,
Mr. CDL is a commercial truck driver who recently contacted my office after he received the above-referenced traffic citation, and although Mr. CDL was cited for “Following Too Close,” there was no accident in this matter. Attached is a copy of Mr. CDL’s written statement, current driver abstract, and subject traffic citation for your review.

Mr. CDL has no convictions of any other similar violation(s) within the last three years and is not a habitual offender of traffic laws. As such, Mr. CDL respectfully requests your recommendation to allow him to plead “guilty” to an amended charge of “Defective Equipment” or, in the alternative, an amended charge of “Disobeying a Traffic Control Device,” with timely payment of all relevant fine and costs.

After you’ve had an opportunity to review this correspondence, please contact me to discuss the same. I look forward to hearing from you.

A. Counselor,
I have reviewed your email and I would ask what in particular would be the amended charge? I would point out that I never ask someone to plead guilty to something that they didn’t do even if it would be to their advantage. For example, no “defective equipment” charge if there is no defective equipment. Your suggestion of disobeying a traffic control device as a possible offense is somewhat questionable. Why, you might ask? We have only one traffic light in the county and I don’t believe that your client was near that location.

REPLY:

Mr. Prosecutor,
As for Mr. CDL, I certainly agree with you that we don’t want him to plead guilty to something he didn’t do, even if it would be to his advantage. So, amending the original charge of “Following Too Close” to the identical point, moving violation of “Disobeying a Traffic Control Device,” would be factually based because the white, hash marks painted in the roadway(s) are there, not as decorations, but as visual traffic-control measurement devices for drivers to use so they can tell how much space is between their vehicle and the vehicle(s) in front of them.

If a driver, such as Mr. CDL, fails to obey these traffic control devices and, as a result, fails to keep adequate spacing between vehicles, then he’s failed to obey a traffic control device. Therefore, we have a factual basis for amending the original charge of “Following Too Close” to the identical point, moving violation of “Disobeying a Traffic Control Device.”

A. Counselor,
Although I am the county prosecutor, I also have a private practice and most of my usual work involves tax law. After reviewing your request, it’s clear to me that you don’t do tax law as your mind is obviously so young and fresh that it comes up with creative ideas.

I have been a prosecutor for 32 plus years and your explanation of disobeying a traffic control device is new to me. I must say that even if it is or isn’t a correct explanation of the facts, it certainly gets an “A” in creativity. If for no other reason, I like your creativity and will go along with your idea of amending your client’s original “following too closely” traffic charge to the requested charge of “violating a traffic control device.” 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 email roadlaw@att.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.