Some “Good” Employers Can Ruin Your Career if they automatically pay the fine.
Many commercial carriers require their CDL* drivers to turn in any ticket they are issued. Good reasons exist for this practice. Each company has a wide range of ticket policies. Some employers mistakenly think paying the ticket for their driver is somehow a good thing. Wrong! Paying the fine results in an automatic conviction for the driver, sometimes with devastating results.
Contrary to what you may believe, convictions don’t disappear after three years. Instead, they stay on your driving record long after the CSA points** stop hurting you. Compounding the injury, “good” employers often deduct everything from the driver’s pay.
Employers Are Causing Convictions, Then Firing Drivers
No employer should insist an employee accept a conviction. Keeping a driver from exercising his/her rights in a criminal case is downright un-American. (Yes, your ticket is a criminal case in Texas.).
We’ve even encountered numerous drivers who were fired for convictions their own employer caused! We get calls from drivers who have lost their CDL and had no idea how, only to learn their employer caused the problem. It’s outrageous and another example of why truckers need a lawyer who knows traffic law, especially laws specific to CDL drivers.
Courts handling your CDL ticket will almost always accept payment for tickets from any source without question. The primary concern of such courts is typically to process payments for tickets, since most drivers simply pay the fine… then pay the real price.
Payment of the ticket, even without a plea of guilty or no contest, results in an unappealable conviction. The fine is the only sentence in such cases. Somehow, our courts haven’t caught up with the notion a payment could be made by someone other than the defendant. This leaves CDL drivers in yet another quandary.
You Get Stuck With A Huge Bill
The only alternative left is a much more complex (insert “expensive” here) one. Unless you know how to do it yourself, you’ll need a lawyer to properly argue to the court (or another court) it should reverse everything which has happened. Few judges in these courts are lawyers, so even well-meaning, fair-minded judges could think nothing can be done. Even when the judge makes the right ruling, you’re still stuck with defending against the original ticket. This also means the money that “good” employer already paid no longer is properly held by the court. This creates other headaches.
Until the Texas Legislature takes definitive action, this problem will persist. In the meantime, individual CDL drivers must make sure the courts know they plead not guilty, no matter what else happens. Trying to navigate this situation without an attorney can make life needlessly harder.
*CDL – Commercial Driver License
**CSA Points – Compliance, Safety, Accountability (your Federal score)