Road law
Helm me help you

By Jeff McConnell and James Mennella, attorneys at law

On a weekly basis we consult with and represent many drivers for various problems around the country. Not everyone will hire us for their problem and some problems are not in our area of expertise to provide the assistance a potential client needs. In those situations, we will try to refer the driver to a provider that might be of assistance.

When we are hired to help with a case, we really prefer for the client to allow us to represent their interests the best way we know how. The legal system is full of twists, turns and pitfalls that vary from court to court. One wrong step can really jeopardize your case if you are not familiar with what you are doing. The following is a recent case that left us with many loose ends to tie up.

I was involved in an accident with a four-wheel vehicle and received some tickets. I have used your services before and want to hire you to help me. Can you help with these tickets?

Yes, we can help and having hired us before you may remember that we will need the following information from you:

  • Copy of the citation

  • Detailed written statement as to what happened

  • Copy of your insurance card and insurance adjustor information if known

  • Attorney fees

I am Mrs. X, and you spoke to my husband about his accident case. We want you to help us. Is there anything I can do to get more time on this case?

There are several options to get more time. In some cases the court will allow one extension of the original date on the ticket before they require a plea to be entered. If you have already received an extension, then the court may allow you to plead not guilty and request a hearing or pretrial conference via fax or mail in order to push the calendar down the road a bit. Once the matter is set for a hearing, most courts become more restrictive as to requests for continuances; however, if there is good cause shown then you might get one extension on a hearing date.

Keep in mind that once you start stretching the system out and if you are not planning to represent yourself that you may be putting your legal counsel in a scheduling problem when you turn the case over to them with a short fuse and no ability to get more time.

Client: I have been calling around trying to find someone to help me with my case, and no one is able to help because my court date is coming up quickly. Can you still help me?

Road Law: We may still be able to help if we can get your case scheduled, but we will not take your case unless we know we can cover the date. Have you had any contact with the court?

Client: Since the date was approaching, I called and talked to the clerk this morning. She said that payment needed to be paid to the court so that nothing bad would happen on the upcoming date. I gave her my credit card and she took the payment.

Road Law: When you spoke to the clerk, did she give you a new court date or ask for a plea of not guilty to be sent in?

Client: No. She said that everything was good and that we didn't need to worry about the case and that the court file would be closed. I think I messed up the case.

Road Law: It appears that you have essentially pleaded guilty to the original charge by paying the clerk directly over the phone without specifying that you were posting bond and requesting a court hearing. In order to correct the problem, we will need to file a motion with the court to vacate the guilty plea entered by the clerk and ask that the payment be applied as bond with a court date to be set. Once that is accomplished, we can then start working on resolving the actual charges against you. 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.