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My driver's license nightmare (Long and way OT)

1111 Views 14 Replies 7 Participants Last post by  Cinsmom
Back in October I was in a bit of a rush and got pulled over in a neighboring county. The cop was nice and said that he would warn me for speed, but my license had expired on my birthday back in April. I was floored. I clearly just brain farted. So he wrote me a $75 ticket for driving on an expired license. Crap! Oh well. I paid the ticket. I was waiting for my expired license to come back in the mail so I could go to the DMV and get it renewed. No such luck. I got a notice from the Secretary of State that I was suspended til March!! I called the DMV and they said I must have had 3 moving violations in a year. Huh? No. She says "yes" I say "no". So she gives me the number for the state. I call and say "DMV says I had 3 moving vio's in a year, I did not. Haven't had one since '95. What's up?" The lady informs me that by paying my ticket, I was admitting guilt for driving on an invalid license and automatically suspended. I tell her I have to drive. I have a job and a business and hubby is gone for 30 days at a time. I live in a remote area and have no one to drive me. Also the officer never explained to me what would happen if I pleaded guilty. She tells me to go to the court in the county where it happened and ask the judge to vacate the guilty plea and put me on supervision. So yesterday I got my friend to drive me and I went. Their computers were down and they couldn't pull my file. So they send me to the courtroom without a file, and the State's attorney looks at me like I'm nuts. So back down to the clerk's office. Where I left my phone number and filled out a motion to vacate. They're going to call me when they can have me come in and fix it. Oh, and the best part -- it's going to cost me $215! What a racket!! They are criminalizing a common mistake. I am livid! And here I sit. The only store nearby is a convenience store. I am paying $2.50 for a bag of damn noodles cause I can't get to the grocery! And I'm sick of noodles!

Had I been here in my county, the state's attorney here would have thrown it out. And then I see my lawyer while we're out yesterday. I should have consulted him when I got the ticket, but I am just now paying him off for my divorce, didn't want to rack up another bill, and didn't think a $75 ticket needed a lawyer. He said if I had gone and renewed before the ticket's court date, they would have thrown it out! Aaarrrrgggghhhh!

Just humor me and take a glance at your license!
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Response...also long!

I am so sorry that you have had to go through this. It sounds like a little dark cloud was following you around! Yikes!
Seriously, I think that I have a slightly different perspective, because I worked in the courts for over 20 years and have seen many problems such as yours.
So, this is a good place to teach folks reading a little bit about signing a ticket and what your options are...
Whenever you are cited, you can either sign the ticket (which is NOT an admission of guilt, but a promise to follow the instructions on the citation and either appear or pay the fine, whichever is appropriate in your case.) The reason you sign the ticket is that if you don't you can either be taken into custody and require that you post bail or they would have to issue a summons for you to appear. So, you are simply signing that you will submit to the court's jurisdiction and appear as stated.
The problem comes in when people don't read the times, even listening to the instructions of the officer is wrong because they may not be informed about the court's policy. So, whenever you get a citation, read the front and back. Call the court (give them a week or so to get the ticket into their system) and confirm your court date and see if you have other paying.
Now, the problem with paying is, as you have found out, that while you are not admiting guilt, you are not contesting the ticket. It's called a no contest plea. Once you do that, the court generally won't let you go back and contest it, but sometimes they will, given certain circumstances.
If you sign a promise to appear and don't, then you are in contempt of a court order to appear (because you submitted to the authority of the court and said you would appear when you signed) and the court may and often does issue a warrant for your arrest. Yes, they can come to your home, place of work, even social functions and haul you away!
Again, you have not admitted guilt by SIGNING the ticket...but you have not obeyed an order of the court and that is where the extra fees and actions add up.
But when you pay, you are telling the court that you will not contest the ticket, it has the same legal affect of a guilty plea. Points go on your record, if it is a moving violation, and fines/fees are assessed. Pay them and if the ticket is a non-moving violation, it ends there. But if you have more than one, the law says that cumulatively the sentence gets more harsh.
Now, your case was clearly a mistake...but you have to remember that probably 85% (or more) of people driving with out valid licenses do so knowingly and because they can't get a valid license. It actually is a reasonable assumption because most people without valid licenses are driving and don't care that their license is suspended.
The DMV should have informed you of your suspension, not the renewal...have you moved? If you have, and the DMV does not have your current address, they are only required to notify you at your last known address.
The most troubling part of this, to me, is that they say you have 3 moving violations that you don't know about. This could be an assumption made by a new clerk who doesn't check facts, but tries to be a know-it-all...or it could be that someone is using your name if they get pulled over for violations. If you DO have moving violations that you have not personally been cited for, find out from the court where they are, go to those courts and ask to see a copy of the citation. If it is not your vehicle, look at the vehicle identification and you think you know who it is? Then you need to report them and follow through...
It is a pain in the rear, to say the least...but, by speaking with the judge, you MAY be able to lower the fine...however, if you have paid already, the court will probably just close the case and send you to the DMV to clear up the license issue.
It is a mess, for sure...but it is just that you, a normal person, have been caught up in a system that is riddled with people taking advantage of circumstances and a court that has come to expect the worst in people...unfortunately.
Feel free to PM me if you would like to ask me about procedures...I can't, of course, help with legal advice, but I can usually help with the procedures.
So sorry that you are caught in this...(by the way, I used to be a traffic I am one of THEM... LOL)
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hahahaha...well, if it improves the, um, is pretty inexpensive! :lol:
But you are so is the ones who break the law that make it so bad for those of us who just fumble though it, not knowing what the deal is! (And how could we know when we are always doing our best to be law abiding?)
Anyway, enjoy your hubby's response and don't let it get you down. :wink:
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