Croc's Thoughts

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Guilty before proven? That's Un-American.


Are we guilty until we prove our innocence or innocent until our guilt is proven? Despite what some might think, the Constitution of the United States makes no actual mention of this but it is generally accepted that a reference is made in more than one amendment. Presumption of innocence is widely held to follow from the 5th, 6th, and 14th amendments. The accuser has the burden of proof; the accused remains innocent until proven guilty.

The basic right under English law goes back to Magna Carta but it has been proven far into antiquity, even to the writing of the Old Testament.

It seems that some States no longer consider Truck Drivers protected under a law which requires due process. t is possible that someone be tried in absentia even to be found guilty but in these cases the absent defendant is usually aware of the charge against them.

Let us take a hypothetical and say that Joe Trucker is pulled over by an Officer and allowed to leave after an inspection in which no defects were found. No ticket has been issued but later, unknown to the driver, an adverse entry may have been made into the driver's record without their knowledge. Some States mandate that there must be a reason to pull a vehicle over in the first place and quite often the reason given for the stop is entered into the driver's record without their knowledge even though no ticket was issued. You can fight a ticket but you can''t fight a claim. The Department of Transportation, Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration's pre-employment screening program (PSP) is relatively unknown to most drivers but that is where some of this information is being stored, unknown and unchallenged.

Sure, a professional driver can submit a challenge to something listed in their PSP but first the driver has to know it is there, even then it will cost the driver $10.00 to look, even if nothing is there. After a challenge there is no guarantee of a resolution and in the case of Pennsylvania no challenge is possible after 30 days, even if the driver had no idea that it was there. What this amounts to is being guilty without the knowledge of a charge and certainly a lack of Due Process which is required, indeed demanded, under the laws of these United States.

In the United States of America you have an absolute right to Due Process. The Government may not in any case accuse you of anything without giving you an opportunity to dispute their claim. It is always up to the Government to prove their case, not for any American to prove their innocence. When a Police Officer suspects someone of a crime, speeding for example, they can issue a warning ticket but that information will be transferred to the PSP. Unproven, unsupported claims by State Officials are being included in the PSP without an option for Due Process.

It can be argued that the DataQ's system provides an option to allow challenges but the system is inadequate and even the company I drive for, Con-way Truckload, has difficulty using the system and rarely has success with it. The Department of Transportation is allowing unsupported allegations against Drivers to be entered in the PSP which is against the law. State Officials are inspecting trucks and entering unproven information into the Driver's PSP. Officers can enter anything they want but they are required under the law to provide proof and the accused must always be given a chance to defend themselves.

After 9-11 everyone sat around while the Government made new regulations which restricted Americans a little. Many raised their voices in protest but most sat around and allowed the changes because the reason made sense. We have to protect ourselves from those who would do us harm. In the interest of safety the DOT is now allowing laws fundamental to American Freedoms, to be ignored and trampled upon. Yes, we have to be safe but flaunting American Law to accomplish it is not right. The FMCSA is working illegally in this instance. Allowing them to continue is a failure by the citizenry who should be keeping an eye on the Government.

Where is the ACLU on this one I wonder?

If you agree with my observations please reference this blog and let your Government representative know how you feel.

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Anyone who spends time on the road behind the wheel has time to think. Thinking can be dangerous. Well it is for me and it gets me into trouble more than I would wish.

That said, perhaps publishing my thoughts isn't a good idea; certainly these thoughts have caused more than one argument. Still, good idea or not, these are some of my thoughts.

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