Road Law
DIY peril

By Jeff McConnell & James Mennella, Attorneys at law

Handling a traffic ticket case on your own is not always “rocket science” but can often get you in a lot of hot water if you don’t properly follow the matter to its conclusion.

Q. I recently paid a traffic citation, and the court sent my personal check back to me and said they wouldn’t accept it. Can they do this?

A. Yes. Although it is not always stated on the citation, most courts around the country don’t accept personal checks for payment. You should always check whether the citation can be paid online, where you can possibly pay by credit card or electronic check. Otherwise, the best bet is to send a money order or cashier’s check to the court for payment.

Q. I sent in payment for my traffic ticket, but the due date had already passed. I was assessed a late fee for not paying on time. Do I have to pay the fee?

A. It depends. Usually deadlines in the legal system are just that, and bad things happen when those dates are missed. If you have a good reason for the delay, then it might be worth the effort to ask the court to dismiss the additional amount owed.

Q. I forgot to pay my traffic citation, and now there is a driver’s license suspension and bench warrant for my arrest. Can I just pay the citation and make this go away?

A. If there is only a suspension for non-payment, then you may be able to rectify the matter by paying the citation and any late fees. However, if a bench warrant was issued, it generally takes a court appearance to have the warrant recalled and the case disposed of or reset.

Also, if your license was suspended for failure to comply or for any other reason, you may need to pay a reinstatement fee to the appropriate state agency in the state where you received the ticket as well as your licensing state. The majority of driving under suspension tickets we see are usually due to not paying a ticket on time. The driver then pays the citation, but does not pay a required reinstatement fee. Although the citation is satisfied, there is still an outstanding suspension.

Q. I was able to get a plea bargain on my traffic case and paid my fine. I just pulled my motor vehicle record (MVR) and the original charge is showing up on my record. What do I do?

A. This is a common problem that we deal with on a daily basis. Although the systems usually work fairly well, human error does occur. If the amended charge is not appearing, then a call to the court clerk will need to be made to verify the disposition of the case. If the clerk verifies the same result, then he/she will need to resend the information to the appropriate state agency for correction.

If the clerk does not have the same disposition, then you need to backtrack and find out where the breakdown occurred. If you dealt with a prosecutor on the phone, it may be that the amended charge never got filed with the clerk. Or if you appeared or have a copy of the amended charge, you may need to get a copy to the clerk so the record can be corrected. 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

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.