It happens. You didn’t see the reduced speed sign or that teenager in the Honda came out of nowhere. Sometimes, you’re just a hair over the speed limit or you glance at your phone at just the wrong second. If you drive for a living, you will most likely find yourself under flashing blue lights eventually. When you get in an accident or are pulled over to get a CDL citation, don’t panic. Here are a few things you can do (or not do) to keep things from getting any worse. As long as you keep your head on straight and remember these pointers, you could drive away with the best possible outcome.
1. Read the ticket, the CDL citation. All CDL citations have useful info printed on them that’s designed to help you go through the process of paying or fighting the CDL Citation in court. The most important info to find on your ticket as soon as you get it is the court date. Some tickets will list a court date. Others will say that you have a certain number of days after you get the ticket to put your plea (of Not Guilty) into the court. Pennsylvania, Washington, and California are all this way. Know how much time you have to start fighting the ticket.
2. Don’t Admit Guilt. You want to fight a CDL citation. You really really do. Any chance you have to keep points off your license and avoid risking your livelihood, do it! On many tickets, you’ll see an area to either select “Guilty” or “Not Guilty” and sign your name. Some officers will try and get you to sign “Guilty.” They can’t make you do it, but they can trick you if you’re not paying attention. “Check this, sign here,” is a simple command to follow, especially if you’re embarrassed and just want to get out of there and get it over with. Stop. Read the ticket. Know exactly what you’re signing before you sign it.
Bonus Tip: Don’t verbally admit guilt, either. If an officer asks, “Do you know how fast you were going?” or “Did you see that stop sign?” it’s best to play dumb.
3. Don’t Leave the Scene if you get in an accident. We’ve seen drivers slapped with a “Fleeing the Scene of an Accident” charge when all they were trying to do was move their truck out of the way of traffic. You don’t want to leave any gray area when it comes to a wreck. You want everything to be as clear as possible so no insurance company or over-eager officer on the scene can charge you with anything you didn’t do. Stay put until told to move by an officer.
4. Don’t Lose Your Citation. This seems like a no-brainer. But it’s easy for things to get lost. If you lose your citation before you find out the court date, you’ll be in real trouble. If you don’t have the ticket information to give to your attorney, he or she will have to wade through the court system to find it for you. Winning traffic court cases is almost always about good relationships. (That’s why CDL Legal always finds the best attorney for the court that will process your ticket.) If an attorney can’t come to court with his paperwork already in order, his chances of a good outcome go down.
Bonus Tip: Be polite to the officer. This seems like another no-brainer, but sometimes officers are jerks. Getting pulled over or getting in an accident is stressful. Check out our article on protecting your CDL when you get pulled over.
We tell all our driver-members to stay safe out there. But we know that sooner or later, you’re going to run into trouble. We’ll help as much as we can by finding an attorney, answering questions you may have, and walking with you through the steps of fighting the ticket in court (and hopefully getting it dismissed!). The first steps are yours, though. As long as you stay smart, read the fine print, and follow directions, you should be well on your way to putting this ticket behind you.