Money, Money, Money
In this issue, we'll tell you about a new trend in Commercial Motor Vehicle (CMV) enforcement that's happening now on the east coast. For those of you who drive the northeast in particular, you'll want to read this information carefully.
Here's the truth.
Question: I was pulled over in Maine recently and had my vehicle inspected. The officer gave me five different tickets for false/duty status not current for my logbook. I was arrested and had to post bond to get out of jail.
Later, I called the court to see if I could just pay the tickets, but they said the charges were "criminal misdemeanors" and that someone would have to appear in Court. Why did I get more than one ticket for my logbook and why can't I just pay them and not go to Court?
Answer: The State of Maine has made checking your logbook for the day in question, as well as any other days that you happen to have with you, part of their standard enforcement procedures. They'll also attempt to match up any receipts you have as well as make sure that your log isn't fraudulent. When an officer finds that receipts and log pages don't match, they'll write citations for each page.
The State of Maine categorizes the false log citation as a misdemeanor/criminal charge. When an officer writes this citation, he usually arrests the driver as well. When that happens, your ticket is no longer a simple traffic infraction. The big kicker is the money involved!
Generally, the fine and court cost on a single violation is $800 to $900 and whatever opportunity cost you're out for having to appear. Also, there's a chance that since the charge is criminal in nature that you'll be creating a criminal record for yourself, which isn't a good thing (unless you already have one.)
Question: So what do I do to stay out of trouble in Maine?
Answer: Stay out of Maine! Just kidding. First, make sure your log is current and that there are no fraudulent entries. Also, don't carry more than the FMCSR required days of duty status with you and most important, don't have conflicting receipts in your possession that an officer may try to match to your log book page.
If necessary, mail documents to your home or company that you don't need to carry with you under the FMSCR requirements.
Should you get in trouble, be cooperative but don't make any incriminating statements to the police. Make arrangements to get bonded out of jail and then contact an attorney to assist you with this particular problem.
Question: If my duty status isn't current, doesn't the officer have to give me time to bring it up to date?
Answer: As every good attorney answers, it depends! The general requirement is that you have your duty status current to last change of duty status. The exception to that is what most drivers are confused about. The only time that you are allowed time to bring your duty status current is under the Out Of Service Criteria.
Specifically, the driver is given time to bring the duty status current to avoid being placed out of service if the driver has the prior six days of duty status and is not current on the day of inspection. This does not prevent you from being issued a ticket, but it may save you from being placed out of service.
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
fax to (405) 272-0558
phone (405) 272-0555.
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