You never intended to pass that school bus, the one with the flashing amber lights and extended stop arm. But it happened. In fact, it happens to the very best drivers across the state every day.
The police officer hands you a citation with a court date and says something about probably paying a small fine. You make your court date and the judge mentions the fine again. You plead guilty and pay the clerk of court on your way out. Walking back to your car, you say to yourself, “That wasn’t so bad.”
Then, a week or so later, you get a letter from the DOT.
That’s when you discover your driver’s license will be suspended for 30 days for pleading guilty. What? No one ever mentioned that! Also, in order to reinstate your privileges, you must pay a $200 civil penalty and file proof of high risk (SR-22) insurance for the next two years. How much does that cost?
And if that wasn’t enough bad news, you will further be placed on driving probation with the DOT so that any moving violation for the next year can be used to suspend your license again. I need a lawyer now.
This is when the attorneys at GRL are often first contacted for advice on school bus passing cases. While we typically can’t change your plea, even if you were uninformed of the possible DOT sanctions, GRL can help you avoid the stiff administrative penalties that typically follow.
In one recent case, we appealed the DOT suspension notice and presented a very persuasive case of mitigating factors during a hearing before an administrative law judge. Although the judge exercised discretion in imposing the suspension, we appealed the decision knowing that notice of a change in the rules for first-time offender sanctions had just been published in the Iowa Administrative Bulletin on April 8, 2020 and would take effect on May 13. The timing of our discovery of this little gold nugget couldn’t have been better. On May 22, 2020 the DOT unwound the 30-day suspension, which eliminated all the hardship and financial consequences that normally follow, and allowed our client to complete a driver improvement program instead. That is a great result!
This is just another in a long line of examples of how GRL stays on top of every new legal development (even as most firms were closed for business during the COVID-19 shutdown) to the benefit of our clients. If you or anyone in your family is facing a school bus passing charge or a DOT suspension notice, then please reach out to us. We can’t change the past, but we can certainly change your future.