Overdrive Magazine

September 2019

Issue link: https://dmtmag.uberflip.com/i/1161251

Contents of this Issue

Navigation

Page 69 of 71

64 | Overdrive | September 2019 I go to a lot of truck shows. When I do, I get lots of legal questions. Many concern handling traffic stops and minimiz- ing the damage that can come from a citation. You see the flashing lights and pull off the road. How do you best react in this situation? First, note that a traffic ticket is nothing until it becomes a conviction. That happens when you pay the fine, when you fail to show up for court on the appointed day, or when the judge or jury has heard the evidence and decides you are guilty. However the conviction is determined, it will show up on your motor vehicle record. So never just pay a ticket and admit guilt. And never fail to show up for a court date. Doing either is just handicapping your job and possibly killing your trucking career. As for what happens in court, there's a lot you can do to tilt the outcome in your favor. It starts at the scene of the citation issuance. Remain calm and professional. Treat the officer with respect. You will never win any arguments with an officer who is wearing a badge and car- rying a gun. Choosing to argue will only ensure you a citation and a possible jail visit. In addition, the officer will note your attitude on the citation, which can hurt its outcome. An officer in this situation never knows what he might be encountering, so do what you can to put him at ease. When talking with the officer, keep your hands visible. If it's nighttime, turn on the cab light. The more agreeable you are, the better the roadside interaction will go. Above all else, do not convict yourself ! Be care- ful of the words you choose and the information you provide. Answer questions directly, but never volunteer information lest you incriminate your- self. I hear accounts like this all the time: A driver gets asked if he knows why he was pulled over. He responds, "I was probably going 70 mph" in a lower speed zone. Or he'll say he was doing "just a little over the limit," as if that's OK. Both are an admission of speeding. The officer's report will note that. Instead, ask the officer how fast he thought you were going. Or admit you are unsure of your exact speed at the time in question, which should be true if you're keeping your eyes mostly on the road and your mirrors. Refrain from simply agreeing with whatever he says. As soon as the stop is over, one of the best things you can do is record, either as a voice message on your phone or as a written note, everything that happened before, during and after the stop. You will be able to use this information later to refresh your memory if you are a witness on the stand. The judicial system understands that data recorded at the time of the incident is more accu- rate than someone's memory much later. That makes your written or recorded information more accurate in the court's mind than that of the officer who makes 25 traffic stops a day and has to recall you specifically weeks or months later. Brad Klepper is president of Interstate Trucker, a law firm dedicated to defending drivers. He is also president of the discount ser vices firm Drivers Legal Plan. He can be reached at 800-333-3748, InterstateTrucker.com and DriversLegalPlan.com. Protecting yourself during a traffic stop During a roadside stop, be cooperative in answering questions, but avoid unnecessarily volunteering information. Max Heine

Articles in this issue

Links on this page

Archives of this issue

view archives of Overdrive Magazine - September 2019