Bottom Line
Road Law
Know what you’re buying

Jeff McConnell
James Mennella
attorneys at law

In this issue of Land Line, we’ll give you examples of some of the most frequently asked questions we’ve recently received about various “legal plans” used by commercial drivers. 

If you’re not familiar with the concept of a legal plan such as the ones currently on the market, most of these plans basically require you to pay a membership fee for which you’re then eligible to receive representation for qualifying legal matters.

Here are a few of the most frequently asked questions we’ve received from various legal plan members.

Question: I joined a legal plan about two years ago and have paid my dues, on time, every month. When I called the membership number today and explained that I needed help with a logbook ticket in Kansas, the legal plan person told me they couldn’t help me because my ticket was a misdemeanor charge, and it wasn’t included under my legal plan. How come?

Answer: Read the terms of your legal plan. This is the No. 1 problem we hear about regarding the various legal plans now on the market. 

After you join a particular legal plan, you usually get a packet of information in the mail that lists the “included” and “excluded” legal matters under your particular plan. Usually, most legal plans totally exclude misdemeanor and felony charges, and it simply doesn’t matter that you’re a current member or that you’ve always paid your member dues on time. If the fine print of your plan says your particular charge is excluded, it’s excluded.

Question: I’ve been a member of a legal plan for the past three years and never had the need to use it. I recently got a ticket in Georgia and called the membership number for help. The legal plan person told me they would refer me to a local attorney in Georgia and that he would appear on my behalf. I just got home today and in my mail was a Notice of Suspension from my DMV claiming that I failed to appear on my court date in Georgia. Now what do I do?

Answer: First, you want to notify your legal plan of your suspension notice by calling them and if necessary, faxing a copy of your notice to the main legal plan office. 

When you call your legal plan office, ask for the name and telephone number of the local counsel who was called to help you. If you get the number, simply call the local counsel for information, such as why he/she didn’t appear on your behalf and what will be done to correct the problem. If you can’t get the name and number of the local attorney, call the particular court clerk and ask if a local attorney filed an appearance and, if so, ask the clerk for his/her name and number. 

Remember: If you simply pay the ticket to clear your suspension, you’ll be found guilty of the original charge, but if you do nothing and simply keep driving, you may be arrested or put out of service for “driving while suspended.” The best thing to do is to try to work with your legal plan provider to correct the problem as soon as possible without having to plead guilty to your original charge.

Question: My legal plan provider hired a lawyer to represent me for a ticket I got in South Carolina. The lawyer called me and told me he was able to get my ticket reduced from 4 points to 2 points. I just ran a copy of my Illinois motor vehicle record, and the South Carolina ticket is listed on my driving record as a moving violation. What exactly did the legal plan attorney do for me?

Answer: Not much. Seriously, this is a very typical problem with most legal plan providers. What happened was that your legal plan provider simply hired the local attorney and neither of them bothered to figure out what type of relief would be most helpful to you. Because your home state of Illinois doesn’t even have a point system, the mere point reduction reported by your South Carolina attorney was absolutely no help to you whatsoever.

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 or call us at (405) 272-0555. We look forward to hearing from you.