When a commercial vehicle is stopped, there are two things that may result.
- A Traffic Ticket and Complaint
- A Driver/Vehicle Examination Report
These two things have different options available, as discussed below.
Traffic Ticket and Complaint
This is, as the name states, a traffic ticket. The traffic ticket is filed with a court, and the driver can challenge the ticket through the court process. The driver has certain rights, particularly in a criminal case. If the driver loses in court, he or she may be able to appeal the decision to another court. The important part here is that the ticket may be litigated in a theoretically neutral forum (court). The driver may negotiate with an attorney for the state (the prosecutor) and the officer who issued the ticket does not decide the outcome.
Driver/Vehicle Examination Report
The examination report is in many ways much more irritating, and potentially damaging, than a traffic ticket. It is very difficult to successfully challenge an examination report. The only way to challenge an examination report is through DataQs. This is a federal website where a driver, or the driver's attorney, can ask for a review of the examination report. And guess who does the review? Yep, the same law enforcement entity that conducted the inspection. So as you might imagine, the law enforcement agency that conducted the examination in the first place is unlikely to admit they made a mistake.
Any violations reflected on the examination report will be reflected on the driver's record, and can result in CSA points.
When a traffic ticket and an examination report are issued together, this can actually be a good thing. If the driver challenges the ticket in court and wins, the driver can then have the report updated (through DataQs) to reflect the outcome of the ticket. In other words, if a charge is dismissed in court, then the driver can get that violation removed from the examination report.
Cops know this though. Sometimes cops will only issue an inspection report, and not ticket, thereby depriving the driver of a meaningful opportunity to challenge the violations. Frequently, the officer will issue a ticket in conjunction with an inspection report, but only include one or two violations on the ticket while the inspection report contains 4 or 5 violations. This makes it nearly impossible for the driver to challenge the violations that are not on the ticket.
Fighting the examination report
If a driver has just received an examination report and no ticket, there is little an attorney can do to help. We can help submit a request for review through DataQs, but the outcome will almost certainly be negative.
If there is a traffic ticket though, fight it. Whether it is a logbook violation, using a mobile phone, or some other charge, any positive results that you achieve fighting the traffic ticket can be used to improve the examination report.