Commercial Drivers - CDL holders - face a lot of unique and challenging circumstances out on the roadways. We have been handling legal cases for commercial clients, both infractions and misdemeanor charges, for well over ten (10) years now.
There are many ways a CDL holder may be disqualified from operating a commercial motor vehicle (CMV).
The first, and most common, are the accumulation of Negligent Operator Points on a motor vehicle record. "Points" can be acquired as a result of being convicted of a variety of offenses. The most common charges under the California Vehicle Code (CVC) that we handle involving CMVs and CDL holders are as follows:
CVC 22406(a) - Speeding in a CMV (Infraction)
CVC 22406.1(a) - Speeding in a CMV - 15 MPH or More Above the Posted Speed Limit (Misdemeanor)
CVC 22407 - Decreasing CMV Speed Limit [45 MPH Zone: Cajon Pass] (Infraction)
CVC 21655(b), 22348(c) - Out of Designated Lane (Infraction)
CVC 34506.3 - Log Book Violation (Infraction)
CVC 35550, 35551, or 35551.5 - Overweight Violations (Infraction)
CVC 35400(a), 35401(a) - Overlength Violations (Infraction)
CVC 21461(A)- Failure To Obey a Posted Sign - Weigh Station Violation (Infraction)
CVC 23123(a) - Cell Phone Use w/out a Hands Free Device (Infraction)
CVC 23123.5(a) - Texting w/out a Hands Free Device (Infraction)
CVC 353, 15278(a), 27903 and Section 32000.5 - Hazardous Material Violations (Infraction)
We have had a lot of success handling these types of charges for our CDL clients over the years - visit our Winning Traffic Cases for a detailed listing of many of the case successes!
In California, you would also lose your license for "serious traffic" violations for at least 60-days for 2 serious traffic violations within a 3-year period involving a CMV, and for at least 120-days for 3 or more serious traffic violations within a 3-year period involving a CMV. Serious violations are as follows:
1. CVC 22406.1 - Excessive speeding (15 mph or more above the posted limit);
2. Reckless driving, improper or erratic lane changes;
3. Following a vehicle too closely;
4. Traffic offenses committed in a CMV in connection with fatal traffic accidents;
5. Driving a CMV without obtaining a CDL or having a CDL in the driver's possession; and
6. Driving a CMV without the proper class of CDL and/or endorsements.
In California, you would lose your CDL for at least 1 year for a first offense of any of the following:
1. Driving a CMV if your blood alcohol (BAC) is .04 percent or higher - in a private vehicle (PV) you be allowed a BAC of .08 prior to being a candidate for any type of automatic DMV driving suspension.
2. Driving a CMV under the influence of alcohol.
3. Refusing to undergo blood alcohol testing.
4. Driving a CMV while under the influence of a controlled substance.
5. Leaving the scene of an accident involving a CMV.
6. Committing a felony involving the use of a CMV.
7. Driving a CMV on a suspended/revoked CDL.
8. Causing a fatality through negligent operation of a CMV.
The ultimate results of each traffic matter (Infraction or Misdemeanor) are dependent upon a variety of factors, such as: driver's motor vehicle record, type of offense(s), the location of the violation, experience level of the citing officer(s), court location, the judicial officer assigned, the evidence and testimony presented at the court trial, cross examination questions posed, witness statements, and the relationship with the citing officer(s) out on the highway.
There are a number of negative consequences which may be faced if you simply post your bail - and do not contest the charges. These can include...
• Paying a fine you can barely afford;
• Suffering an insurance premium increase;
• Negligent Operator Points;
• Driver's license suspension;
• Impacts on your employment status or opportunities;
Negligent Operator Points can result from violations of the California Vehicle Code, as well as violations of city or county ordinances, OR any other code which relates to the safe operation of a motor vehicle. The California DMV does have the authority to either suspend or revoke a California driver’s license, if an individual incurs too many points within a specified period of time. As a result of the Interstate Driver's License Compact, the California DMV will also report convictions of violations incurred by out of state licensees to their home state. California Vehicle Code (CVC) section 12810.5(a) defines a Class C Negligent Operator as follows:
4 or more points in 12 months,
6 points in 24 months, or
8 points in 36 months.
Commercial Class A or B drivers, without a special certificate, may be allowed 2 additional points, if they request and appear for a hearing in front of the California DMV. However, per CVC section 12810.5(b), a violation which occurs while operating a commercial vehicle in California, carries 1.5 times the normal point count! So, a typical commercial violation, such as CVC section 22406(a) – Speeding in a Commercial Vehicle, would carry 1.5 points; any subsequent violation, such as CVC section 21655(b) – Failure to Use Designated Lane, would result in a total of 3 points assigned by the California DMV. Minor convictions (such as the foregoing) that occur while you are driving a commercial vehicle or as a holder of a CDL, are retained on your California driving record for three (3) years.
This is of course, in addition to any negative implications from an employer, insurance company, or the Department of Transportation, acting under the CSA 2010 regulations.
Also, if applying for a job as a commercial driver, the California DMV requires that you must give your prospective employer a 10-year employment history of commercial driving. As a result of the foregoing, CDL holders should always consider contacting an attorney anytime a traffic citation is issued to them in the State of California.