Road law
Help me help you

By Jeff McConnell and James Mennella, attorneys at law

Most of you will remember the Fram oil filter advertisement "You can pay me now, or pay me later."

The point of the advertisement was to convince you that spending a little now to protect your engine would save you from the big expense of having to replace your engine. The same philosophy holds true for much of the work we do at Road Law to keep a CDL holder qualified to drive.

There are several scenarios where it pays to resolve the majority of your legal issues promptly before they get out of hand. Unfortunately, even if you want to pay more to fix your problem(s) later it doesn't matter in some cases.

I received a traffic ticket and decided not to pay it because I was mad. I received a notice of suspension from my DMV for not complying with the ticket. Is there anything I can do to correct the problem?

Yes. If the suspension notice is for noncompliance, and not too much time has gone by, then there is a good chance the matter can be reset with the court. If the matter can be and is reset, the clerk will generally send electronic notice through the DMV that the citation is no longer delinquent. It is important to verify that the compliance notice gets sent, because if the date for the suspension lapses, the word "suspension" will stay on your record.

I received a citation and didn't pay or appear on my court date. I received a bench warrant notice in the mail for failure to appear and a license suspension notice for failure to comply. I called the court to pay the citations, but the clerk said that it is a mandatory appearance and I would need to appear. Do I really have to go back to court?

Maybe. In most circumstances, once a warrant has issued, an appearance is required by a lawyer, the defendant or both. Each jurisdiction is different in how they handle these types of situations. The most liberal jurisdiction may allow for a bond to be posted in lieu of an appearance to reset the matter, and the most conservative may require that the defendant be processed and then bonded out.

I paid a citation a year ago, and I am having employment issues because of the entry on my driving record. Is there a way to fix this?

Maybe. Where the citation was issued will determine whether there is anything we can do to help you. In most jurisdictions there is a statutory time limit to work within. For example, after most convictions, you have a statutory right to appeal, file a motion for a rehearing, etc. The problems arise when you no longer have any statutory rights remaining and there is no remaining legal remedy out there for you.

I have called around for help, and everyone wants substantially more money to help me than I am used to paying. Am I being taken advantage of?

Maybe. The first thing to keep in mind is that once you allow the citation to go into default or warrant status you are creating more work for your attorney to try to resolve the original problem. It can take several additional appearances at the court and even numerous phone calls or appearances at the DMV to undo the damage that was done by not responding to the citation to begin with. How much more can vary by a large margin depending on where your citation is going to court. 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.