OOIDA member glad he fought state ticket, glad daughter saw it

By Charlie Morasch, Land Line contributing writer | Monday, November 25, 2013

Emilyann Marsh has accompanied her dad hauling flatbed for so long, she remembers names of truck stops past that young truckers haven’t heard of.

Emilyann’s truck adventures with her dad have allowed her to ride San Francisco’s cable cars, climb 11,000-foot mountains on the back of a motorcycle, and drive through Times Square countless times.

Photo by Meredith Marsh

Patrick Marsh and daughter Emilyann at Superior Court of Connecticut.

“One time as a little girl, she just wanted to run through a wheat field in Kansas,” says her father, Patrick Marsh. “Over the years she has done all kinds of things while going with me.”

Patrick, an OOIDA member from Zebulon, N.C., has always wanted his daughter to know about the business and the importance of being aware and independent. He has cheered Emilyann on as the girl competed in multiple martial arts competitions.

In June, the teenager accompanied her dad and her mom, Meredith, to learn another lesson: how to stand up for yourself.

In April, Patrick Marsh was hauling two loads of Chinese Elm trees north to a customer in Easthampton, N.Y. Patrick declined to name the customer, but said their name was prominent on Wall Street.

Patrick’s truck, a Peterbilt 379 with 1.24 million miles, took the first tree through New York City, where oversize permits are required at least 72 hours in advance and two escorts are mandatory. The permitting, combined with the pressure to have perfect timing throughout the trip, spurred the driver to take a different route for the second trip.

Instead of going through New York City again, Patrick decided to go north and then through Connecticut on Interstate 95, eventually taking a ferry to cross over to Long Island. The trip went well until the truck approached the Connecticut state line, where traffic had backed up. A weigh scale said the scale was closed, and Patrick knew that Connecticut’s over-dimension, overweight curfew still had a few minutes to go before expiring.

Shortly after crossing into Connecticut, Patrick exited I-95 and parked on asphalt adjacent to the highway.

“I did the wise and prudent thing,” Patrick said. “I exited, but didn’t get on the off-ramp, because the county can get you for that. My permit was not viable for an on-ramp or off-ramp.”

As Patrick waited, he saw the light for the scale station go on, then off. Shortly after that, a state trooper pulled up and walked toward Patrick’s truck with his hands in the air.

“He said, ‘What are you sitting here for,’” Patrick recounted.

Despite the curfew remaining in effect, Patrick obeyed the trooper’s order to go to the scale, where commercial vehicle enforcement officers inspected his truck and load securement, and marveled at the Chinese elm tree.

The weigh station officers let Patrick go, but unfortunately, that wasn’t the last word.

As Patrick walked back to his truck, the original state trooper said he wanted to see his license and registration.

“He said, ‘I’m writing you a failure to obey,’” Patrick said. “’You were trying to avoid this scale; it had flashing red beacon lights on. You should have gone to the scale.’”

The two men argued about the legality of Patrick’s parking, and Patrick says the trooper told him he wouldn’t be assessed points by Connecticut if he paid the fine within 20 days.

Patrick, who said he has several family members who work in law enforcement, said he did something he almost never does: He snapped back at the cop.

“I’ll see you in court, OK,” Patrick told the trooper.

“I tell a lot of drivers, ‘you don’t get upset,’” Patrick told Land Line Magazine. “If you’re right, you’re right; if you’re wrong, you’re wrong.”

On June 4, Patrick, Meredith and Emilyann drove to Connecticut for Patrick’s court appearance. The next morning in front of the Superior Court of Connecticut in Greenwich, Conn., Meredith snapped a picture of Patrick in a crisp suit and red, white and blue tie with Emilyann by his side. The whole family dressed formally for the occasion.

Amid a crowd of defendants inside, Patrick noticed only he and attorneys present wore a tie. He approached the prosecutor.

“He looked at me and said, ‘You drove up here from North Carolina for this?’” Patrick said. “The prosecutor said, ‘I am so sorry. You didn’t do anything wrong. This ticket does not exist, and you shouldn’t have had to go through this.”

Patrick said he has made a point to avoid agreeing to any citation in which a law enforcement officer says no points will be taken from their driving record. He suggests other truck drivers take a similar approach.

“If they say, ‘$100, and no points,’ that’s always a lie,” Patrick said. “Twenty years ago, that might have been true if you’re out of state. Now, with CSA, everything is a big deal. In reality, the only way to fight back against CSA is to fight your tickets.”

Five months after winning that court battle, Patrick said he could have afforded to pay the ticket, and may have lost money spent on gas and what he called “a fleabag motel” the night before his court appearance.

No, this traffic citation wasn’t criminal, but it still mattered.

“It was a matter of principle,” Patrick said. “I didn’t do anything wrong; I didn’t deserve to get a ticket.”

He’s glad that Emilyann, having taken so many trips sightseeing and experiencing America, was able to see the justice system at work.

“I wanted her to see that if you are right, you stand up for yourself,” Patrick said.

Copyright © OOIDA

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