Road Law
Before you pay that ticket

By Jeff McConnell & James Mennella, Attorneys at law

It’s a simple rule: When you pay your ticket, you’re telling the court that you’re guilty of the charge and the court “convicts” you of the charge listed on the ticket. For years, we’ve told you to never, ever simply pay any ticket without discussing it with a traffic attorney first.

We’re telling you again. In this edition of Road Law, we’re going to tell you a horror story about a driver who didn’t call us before he paid or tried to pay his ticket and, unfortunately, wound up in very hot water as a result.

Q. I was at a weigh station in Wyoming when the state trooper told me that my driver’s license was suspended. I told him that there must be some mistake because I never got any notice from my home state of Pennsylvania that my driver’s license had been suspended.

The trooper told me that his computer was telling him that my suspension was issued from Indiana about six months ago. I told the trooper that I paid that Indiana ticket I got six months ago and that there had to be a mistake.

The trooper said he had to go by what his computer was telling him and I couldn’t move until his computer said I had a valid driver’s license. Then the trooper wrote me a Wyoming ticket for “Driving Under Suspension.” What do I do now?

A. First, you have to call the Indiana court where you paid your ticket and find out what the problem is. Chances are, when you call the Indiana court, the clerk will tell you:

They never received your payment for fine and costs;

The amount you paid was wrong; or, The clerk received your payment, but it was late. And because it was late, the clerk had already issued a Notice of Suspension.

If the court never received your payment and you don’t have a receipt of payment with you, you may have to pay the ticket again and a possible reinstatement fee. But this can get complicated, as many times there is a reinstatement fee that is owed to more than one administrative agency, as well as the necessity of the clearance to be electronically transmitted to the appropriate people. 

Once the Indiana problem is corrected, the clerk will rescind or take back the Notice of Suspension and your suspension problem should be solved. However, don’t forget that the reinstatement fee  may be owed to one or more state agencies before you get back on the road. 

Until you are cleared in the computer system, you are not technically cleared to drive. But, remember, you have another problem too. You have a new Wyoming ticket for driving under suspension.

Now that your driver license is valid, and you have proof of a valid license, you should plead “not guilty” and set the matter for a hearing. When you or your lawyer appear, the necessary ammunition will support a motion to dismiss the charge with payment of costs or at least amend the violation to another violation that will not end up suspending your driver license. 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.