Road Law
You have the right to remain silent

By Jeff McConnell & James Mennella, Attorneys at law

You certainly do have the right to remain silent. However, we don’t want you to remain silent when we’re helping you with your case. Of the thousands of cases we handle throughout the year, there are always a few that make us scratch our heads and wonder why we finally, only after the case is over, learn important information that could have helped the driver.

With each case, we always want to have a copy of the citation, a detailed written statement as to what happened, and whether the driver wants to appear or have us try to resolve the matter in his/her absence. Since we can’t testify for the driver, if the driver isn’t going to appear with us, then we need to have as much “ammunition” as possible to try and defend the case. It’s the lack of information that causes the most problems.

Q. You recently appeared for me in court and had my speed ticket amended to a lower speed. My company’s trucks are governed at a lower speed than what I was convicted of, and I don’t want this result. What can you do now?

A.It’s always very helpful, if you have information that might help your case, that you share it with us prior to your court date. Depending on the facts of your case, your testimony, and the fact that the truck is governed doesn’t automatically win your case. For example, if you are written a citation for 70/55, your company trucks are governed at 65, and your testimony is that you were doing 65 not 70, the court will likely convict you of the original charge.

However, knowing that the truck is governed at 65 gives us a reasonable argument that there may be some error in the speed measurement and the truck speed that would allow a negotiated settlement to a speed reduction that prevents you from being convicted of a “serious” violation under the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations.

Most of the time, depending on where the case is being heard, we’re able to get a plea recommendation that we can tell you about before your final disposition. However, sometimes we’re in a situation where the court date is your final disposition date and, if you are not present in court with us, we have to exercise our best judgment in resolving the case with the best outcome possible. In the event the final disposition isn’t what you want, then sometimes we can reset the case, or appeal to a higher court for an alternative result.

Q. You recently called me and said that the prosecutor is unwilling to offer me any plea recommendation because of the notes written on my citation. What else can be done?

A.There are several reasons why prosecutors and judges will not grant any relief in certain situations. Often it is due to the fact that the officer has already reduced the violation in the field and given you a break. Other times it is due to “attitude” at the time of the stop. Whether it is the driver or the officer who has the “attitude,” sometimes remarks that are left on the backside of the citation by the officer influence the prosecutor or judge to deny relief.

When you call your attorney, be sure to always give him or her as much information as possible regarding your situation – for example, clean MVRs, safe driving awards, speed limiters, detailed written statements, and whether you can or want to appear for your case. 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.