Legends of the Road
Everybody knows about the classic "urban legends", like the one where the woman comes out of the grocery store, gets in her car, and a one armed man with a hunting knife is hiding in the back seat.
Or the one where the little girl is drinking a soda and finds a giant rat in the bottom of the can.
Or the one where the baby alligator is flushed down the toilet, some how stays in the sewer line for three or four years and grows to 200lbs.
Then, the same guy who flushed the little fellow in the first place, sits on the toilet and is dragged right down the drain and eaten by the killer reptile.
Well, just like these "urban legends", we've heard our share of "road legends." We dedicate this "true or false" column to all "legends of the road."
True or False: When I get a ticket and I pay an extra five dollars with my fine payment when I mail it to the Court, and the Court sends me a refund check for the same five dollars, the ticket can't go on my driving record if I don't cash the refund check?
False! This is, without a doubt, one of the worst "legends of the road" currently going around. Drivers are always calling us and asking us whether over paying a fine amount will actually keep a ticket off their record.
THE TRUTH IS, most Courts will not even accept your fine payment for a ticket if it's not for the correct amount and will simply mail it right back to you.
In the meantime, your Court date passes, the Court gives you another charge for "failure to appear", and sends out a warrant for your arrest!
Whenever you send your fine payment to the Court, always make sure it's for the correct amount!
True or False: If I'm ever pulled over and the cop asks me to take a breathalyzer, I should refuse to take it.
False! This is one of the most dangerous "legends of the road" we've heard. THE TRUTH IS, if you refuse to take a breathalyzer test, even if you haven't been drinking, your license will automatically be suspended.
Remember, when you sign your driver license, you're agreeing to comply with any authorized request from a state or local official. A refusal to take a breathalyzer is a violation of that agreement!
True or False: Because I have a CDL, I can have a Federal Marshall come to any traffic stop.
False! THE TRUTH IS, having a CDL doesn't give you the right to have a Federal Marshall or any other Federal Official come to your aid when your stopped for a traffic ticket.
As authorized by the Federal government, state officials have every right to stop and inspect your vehicle or issue traffic tickets.
True or False: I don't have to show my logbook to the cop because I have the right not to incriminate myself.
False! THE TRUTH IS, you do have a right not to "tell on yourself" when you break the law. BUT, the Courts have decided that public safety is more important than your right not to "tell on yourself" when it comes to log books.
In cases like Garner v. U.S.A and Miranda v. Arizona, the Courts said that American's do have a general right not to incriminate or "tell on" themselves. BUT, these cases had nothing to do with logbooks or commercial drivers.
In the case of Garner v. U.S.A, there was a guy (a professional gambler) who was being prosecuted by the fed.'s on conspiracy charges.
Basically, the fed.'s tried to use Garner's tax return (where he admitted he was a gambler) as proof of a gambling conspiracy.
Garner argued that the fed.'s forced him to incriminate himself by having to fill out his tax return. The government didn't agree.
Today, there's no case law which specifically deals with logbooks and a commercial driver's right against self incrimination, the Courts will likely say that logbooks aren't the same as tax returns.
The Courts would reason that if you lie on your tax return, you don't have the possibility of falling asleep and killing people. If you lie on your logbook, you have the possibility of falling asleep and killing people.
Whatever your opinion is, when it comes to logbooks the Courts would likely say that protecting the public is more important than a commercial drivers right against self incrimination.
We hope you can use the information in this column to help with every day, real life problems you face on the road.
We invite you to send us any questions or comments you may have regarding transportation law to:
1330 N. Classen Blvd. Suite 215
Oklahoma City, OK 73106