Road law
Administrative headaches

By Jeff McConnell and James Mennella, attorneys at law

One of the most demanding parts of our job is jumping through all of the administrative hoops, pitfalls and traps that exist around the country. Let’s take a look at some cases where even with all of the “i dotting and t crossing,” we were snared by a few overzealous bureaucrats.

I paid too many traffic citations and received a notice from my DMV that I was being suspended and disqualified. Can you help me?

Yes. In order for us to help you, we need to address two problems. First, you have too many “serious” violations, which is causing the disqualification of your CDL privileges. Second, your total driving privileges will be suspended for excessive points. The strategy is to reopen any combination of “serious” and higher point violations in order to prevent the administrative action.

Should I ask for an administrative hearing in order to keep driving in the meantime?

In most circumstances, the administrative hearing should be requested as it might buy some more time. However, unless something is done about the underlying convictions causing the problem, you will not have any success at a hearing.

The only exception to this is if you happen to have a negligent operator suspension from the state of California for points. In California, the point system is set up to presume that CDL holders have a hazmat endorsement, which allows an accumulation of only four points before administrative action. If you don’t have the hazmat endorsement then you are allowed six points, but you won’t get those six points unless you have the administrative hearing to correct the record for not having the hazmat endorsement.

Of course, the DMV representative will still want to discuss your driving habits and what you are doing to become a better driver. But at the end of the day, if you haven’t exceeded the point limit, they have to reverse the suspension notice.

How long will it take to get me out of trouble?

Depending on the court it may take anywhere from several days to a couple of months. The critical part is getting the motion and order before the court and signed off by the judge. If we’re successful at this stage, the order is then transmitted by the court clerk to the DMV. Depending on how friendly the court is, the order may be to vacate the conviction – or if we’re lucky, we may have an order to vacate with an amendment of the original charge, thus concluding the court part of the scenario.

What problems have you faced in trying to accomplish these cases?

These are the common failure points we have experienced to date:

  • The court will not agree to reopen/vacate the original guilty plea.
  • The DMV refuses to correct the driver abstract (MVR) because even though the charge is dismissed by the court, the court received the original fine/costs, and thus it is still a conviction.
  • The DMV can’t correct the driver abstract, because there was more than one violation originally issued and the order to vacate the conviction does not state which violation was vacated.
  • The DMV will not process the order unless the order states that any fine amount has been refunded or held as a bond.

The takeaway from this article is that you need to know what is going to happen to you if you pay a citation. Get legal advice, call the DMV, or anything else you can figure out before you send your money in. It is a lot easier to sleep at night knowing that you did everything possible to keep your record clean or at least not blemished too badly rather than trying to rewrite history. LL

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.