Road Law
Bonds, bail and your livelihood

By Jeff McConnell & James Mennella, Attorneys at law

When it comes to posting bond or bail in traffic cases, the requirements and options vary widely by state. In some states, they may go after your driver’s license or equipment. That practice of taking driver’s licenses, equipment or bond is presumed to make lawbreakers more likely to pay or come to court.

Q. I was stopped in Michigan for a speeding ticket. The officer requested that I post a bond or he was going to take my license. I didn’t have any cash on me so I gave him my license. Is this legal?

A. Yes. The state of Michigan will often take licenses from out-of-state drivers who do not post bond on the spot or who do not have bail bond cards issued through an insurance company.

The documentation you received during the stop should reflect that the officer took your license in lieu of bond. You will want to make sure you have that paper handy in case you need to present your license to another law enforcement official.

If getting your license back before your court date is critical, as it likely is, you can post a cash bond with the court clerk and have your license released. However, make sure that the clerk knows you are posting bond and not simply submitting payment for the ticket if your intent is to fight the citation in court.

Q.  I was pulled over in Illinois and given a ticket for bypassing a weigh station and overweight. The fine on the ticket was $10,000. The cop said that I had to come up with the whole $10,000 or he would impound my company truck. I called my company and they transferred the money to keep the truck from being impounded. Did the company or I have any other option?

A. There are a couple of options available to you:
1. Pay the total amount of money and post the bond;
2. Surrender your truck and/or trailer as bond;
3. Go to the local magistrate and ask to be released on “own recognizance” or what’s known as an “O.R. bond.”

Option No. 2 is usually not an option and option No. 3 can be very time-consuming with mixed results. In practice, most people find a way to post the bond and go about their business until their court date arrives.

Q. I recently received a ticket in Pennsylvania for overweight. The fine is $21,000, and the paperwork says I have to post that amount in order to get a court date. There is no way I can post that much money! Is there anything else I can do?

A. Pennsylvania is usually one of those states where you have to post the fine plus a $7 administrative fee to get a court date. In your example, it’s not uncommon to make a request to post a partial bond with the court that is likely to be approved. All you do is call the court and ask that you be able to post just a small portion of the total bond.

Q. I have a citation in California that I want to go to trial on. The clerk says I have to pay the bail in order to have a date set. Is this correct?

A. It depends. Many of the courts in California will not set your case for trial unless you post the bail amount listed on your courtesy notice. Those particular courts want to make sure they have the money on hand should you be found guilty or not show up for court. However, many courts in California don’t require you to post the bail, and many times these cases go to collections once the cases are disposed of. Check with your particular court as to what their policy is for setting a matter for trial. 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.

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