Road Law
Truth is stranger than fiction

By Jeff McConnell & James Mennella, Attorneys at law

At Road Law, we’ve been helping commercial drivers, and the companies they drive for, for the past 20 years. And just when we thought we’d seen it all, we got a call from a driver that, even for us, was difficult to believe.

It’s not that the facts of this particular case were necessarily bizarre, but the entire case –factually, legally and procedurally – was a bit much. As this case is still pending and we’re without an end at this time, we can’t tell you that we were successful. However, this case is worth discussing here and may even be helpful to you and other drivers in the future.

Q. On Jan. 26, 2013, I had a valid “Class A” driver’s license and was driving my car in the state of Oklahoma when I was stopped by a local officer who accused me of “Speeding 80/55.” I explained that I wasn’t used to driving my car because I drove my Peterbilt most of the time. The officer didn’t seem to care and wrote me a ticket and listed my driver’s license as “Class A.”

About a week later on or about Feb. 5, 2013, I received a letter from my home state Department of Transportation informing me that because I had “not properly submitted a valid medical certificate,” my Class A driver license was being downgraded to a Class D driver license.

After receiving this notice, I went to my home state DOT and provided one of the representatives with proof that I did have a valid medical certificate. The DOT representative confirmed that, in fact, I did have a valid medical certificate but I hadn’t properly submitted my certificate to the DOT to be processed. So, because of my procedural mistake, the only way to get my Class A license back was to be completely retested – i.e., on paper and in the truck.

As it stands, I now have only a valid Class D license. I’m scheduled to be retested in 10 days so I can get my Class A license back.

As for my ticket, I called the court and asked if I could have a “deferral” or take traffic school so I wouldn’t get a conviction of the ticket on my record. The court told me that because my ticket said that I was Class A, I couldn’t qualify for a deferral or take traffic school. I also asked the prosecutor if he would, at the very least, amend my ticket to below 15 mph over the posted speed so I wouldn’t be convicted of a “serious” traffic offense. The prosecutor told me because my ticket was marked Class A, he couldn’t amend my ticket, not even 1 mph. Now what do I do?

A. Yes, your DOT, like many others, is probably crazy and, no, we really haven’t seen a case quite like yours before.

Let’s take your problem one step at a time.

First, when you received your speeding ticket (Jan. 26, 2013), you had a valid Class A license. Approximately eight days later (Feb. 3, 2013) you received DOT notice that you now had a Class D license.

Second, although you’ve fixed your medical certificate problem with your DOT, you still have only a valid Class D license.

Third, in 10 days you can retest for a valid Class A license.

Fourth, your ticket is in a court that has a “hard-nosed,” zero tolerance policy for all Class A drivers.

Here’s what you do. First, don’t retest just yet. Keep your Class D license until your court date.

On your court date, take your ticket and your valid Class D driver license with you. When your name is called, show the judge a copy of your Class A ticket and your valid Class D license. Let the judge know that although your ticket is marked Class A, you have only a Class D license and that you’d like to take an online, nationally certified, traffic school course to avoid a conviction of your speeding ticket. As most Class D drivers are allowed to take traffic school in order to prevent convictions of moving violations, you should qualify. 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.