Bottom Line
Road Law
And the answer is...

Jeff McConnell
James Mennella
attorneys at law

Here are three of the most commonly asked questions we’ve received in the past month. We want to remind all of you to call us toll free at 1-888-276-8000 whenever you have a legal question about a ticket, an accident or any other state or federal driving regulation. You never know — you may see your question (and hopefully an answer to it) in the next issue of Land Line.

Question: I got a ticket about a year ago in Illinois for “Improper Lane Use” because the cop said I was driving in the left lane. Also, about three months ago, I got the same ticket in Georgia, and I’ve paid both of them. Now, I just got a letter from my department of motor vehicles telling me I’m going to be disqualified from driving my truck for 60 days for being convicted of two “serious” traffic tickets within three years. I’ve read the little, green and white Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations pocket book, and I can’t find where it says that driving in the left lane is a serious violation. Is my DMV wrong?

Answer: Well, unfortunately, your DMV is right and, unless you can re-open either of your cases and have the original ticket amended, you’ll be disqualified from driving your truck for 60 days. You’re right when you say you can’t find “Improper Lane Use” in the FMCSRs. This particular violation isn’t listed as a serious violation so, in theory, you really shouldn’t be disqualified from driving your truck simply for being convicted of driving in the left lane.

Here’s the problem. First, remember that the FMCSRs are rules that set the federal standards. So, all the states must at least meet these standards. Unfortunately, some states, like Georgia and Illinois, have decided to be more restrictive than the feds and simply made all “lane” violations (lane use or lane change) that allegedly occur in their states serious violations. The bottom line? Never pay any ticket until you know exactly how it’s going to be processed on your MVR.

Question: I had my CDL disqualified about three months ago and I couldn’t drive for 60 days. I’m reinstated now but I can’t find anyone who will let me lease on because the word “Disqualified” is still on my MVR. I don’t understand what the problem is.

Answer: This is a very common problem for a lot of drivers. Remember, your MVR is a complete history of your driving career. Whatever traffic charge you’re convicted of, whether you got the ticket in your personal vehicle or your truck, is usually posted to your MVR. Also, any time you’re disqualified or suspended, “Disqualified/Suspended” is posted to your MVR. Even after you’re reinstated and can legally drive again, these words will nevertheless remain on your MVR as part of your driving history. When Disqualified/Suspended appears on your MVR, it may prevent you from leasing on with someone simply because they don’t want the possible liability of hiring someone with less than a perfect record.

Question: I got a ticket in Ohio, and the cop told me that since it was my first ticket in the past 12 months that if I paid it I wouldn’t get any points. So, I did what he told me to do and paid the ticket the next day. I just ran my Florida MVR, and I got points for that ticket. Can I sue the cop for giving me false information?

Answer: Of course, you can sue anyone you want. But if the judge doesn’t think your claim has any merit, he or she will probably throw it out, make you pay your opponent’s legal fees and cite your attorney for filing a frivolous lawsuit. In this case, the officer gave you correct information for Ohio, but incorrect for Florida. Remember: What’s important to you is what your DMV will do when they get your out-of-state conviction, not the state where you were convicted.

Instead of suing, you need to file a grievance or complaint with the officer’s superiors and let them know that the officer is providing information that is inaccurate for out-of-state licensed drivers. It may not change your current situation, but it may help change the officer’s practice of giving incorrect information to drivers.

We hope you can use the information in this column to help with everyday, real life problems you face on the road. We invite you to send us any questions or comments you may have regarding transportation law to: Road Law, 1330 N. Classen Blvd., Suite 215, Oklahoma City, OK 73106; fax to (405) 272-0558; contact us through our Web site at www.roadlaw.net; or call us at (405) 272-0555. We look forward to hearing from you.

March/April
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