Bottom Line
Road Law
Do I have to report it?

Jeff McConnell
James Mennella
attorneys at law

In this issue, we’ll address a question that many drivers have regarding traffic tickets and whether they have to report tickets to their company. As you might guess, different companies have different policies, and it’s important you know what your company requires.

Question: I recently received a traffic ticket in California. I am afraid that I’ll lose my job if I tell my company about the ticket. I asked another driver in the company whether I had to report the ticket to anyone in safety and he said no. Is this true?

Answer: Good question. The answer will depend on the policy of your particular company. For example, suppose that your company’s policy requires you to report all the tickets you receive. If that’s the case, you’ll need to report receiving the ticket. But if your company’s policy requires you to report only those traffic tickets of which you’re convicted, then simply receiving the ticket doesn’t require you to report it. 

Remember, if you’ve entered a guilty or no-contest plea and paid your fine/costs, then you’ve been convicted. If you haven’t taken any action, and your response date on your ticket hasn’t lapsed, then you’re still innocent until proven or found guilty. And you haven’t been convicted.

Also, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSRs), Section 383.31, require that you notify your licensing state of any convictions from an out-of-state jurisdiction within 30 days, as well as your employer.

Question: How do I comply with the FMCSRs and give notice of traffic convictions to my home state and company?

Answer: Section 383.31(c) requires that you notify your employer and licensing state in writing with the following information: your full name, license number, date of conviction, the offense convicted of, whether the violation was in a CMV, location of offense and your signature.

The real-life effect of you attempting to comply with this section of the FMCSRs is ridiculous. 

For example, you’re convicted of a traffic ticket. According to the FMCSRs, you’re now supposed to write a letter to your DMV to tell them about it. What your DMV does with this information is anyone’s guess. Generally, unless they receive notification from an in-state or out-of-state court regarding a conviction, no DMV is going to place anything on or take anything off your record. Washington wisdom.

Question: I was recently suspended in California for having too many points. I am not licensed in California and my Kansas license is still valid. Can I just stay out of California until my suspension is over? Can I continue to drive in other states?

Answer: Technically, no. Under Section 383.33, you’re required to notify your company by the end of the business day following your receipt of the suspension/revocation that you’re suspended. It then becomes the company’s obligation under the FMCSRs not to allow you to operate a CMV while suspended/revoked. Unfortunately, the fact that your license is still valid in your home state doesn’t eliminate your suspended status in another state.

You might get away with operating in other states for a while. However, when you get to a scale house or port of entry where an official runs a national check, you may be surprised when he/she hands you a ticket for “driving while suspended.” You may even be arrested and unable to drive out of the state until you’re reinstated in the suspending state.

Question: I was backing up my truck and I barely brushed against a concrete fuel island barrier. It just scuffed the paint on the barrier and a little bit on my driver’s side fender. I own my truck and, because the damage is so slight, I probably won’t turn any claim in on my insurance. I don’t have to report this little scratch to my insurance company ... do I?

Answer: No, you don’t have to report the matter as a claim on your insurance. But you may have a much bigger problem. There you were, in a public facility, lots of witnesses. You never know who’s going to notify, in this case, the truck stop, that you damaged the truck stop property. Remember, even though the damage is minimal, if you leave the scene without reporting the incident to the property owner/police, you could be cited for “leaving the scene of a property damage accident.” A conviction of that particular charge will result in an automatic 12-month disqualification of your commercial driving privileges.

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, 3441 W. Memorial, Suite 4, Oklahoma City, OK 73134; fax to (405) 463-0565; contact us through our Web site at www.roadlaw.net. or call us at (405) 463-0566. We look forward to hearing from you.

March/April
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