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4 Top Trucking Violations

Due mainly to their size, semi-trucks and trailers are regulated to protect other vehicle operators. Some truck drivers, if they weren’t prohibited from doing so, would drive 14 or 16 hours a day with nothing but short naps and gallons of energy drinks or coffee.

Truck drivers in California (CA), as in every other state, must follow the law. Failure to do so can result in tickets, penalties, fines, suspended licenses, and even jail time for major infractions, misdemeanors, and felony violations of the CA Vehicle Code (CVC).

Although there may be other authorities that claim a different top four, particularly nationwide or in other states, these are the top four trucking violations in CA.

#1 Trucking Violations - Speeding 1-15 MPH Over

For most drivers, a basic speeding ticket is $35 (with penalties, surcharges, and fees it is nearly ten times that amount, $360), one point on their license or traffic school, if eligible, and increased insurance rates. However, many of these minimum penalties go out the window for truckers and other commercial vehicle operators (CMV).

When a commercial driver’s license (CDL) holder is convicted of trucking violations in their commercial vehicle, such as 1-15 mph speeding over the limit, the Negligent Operator Treatment System awards them 1.5 points on their motor vehicle driver’s record (MVR), which the CDL holder may not have erased through traffic school because they are not eligible.

Plus, a CDL holder must notify their employer of any moving violation convictions within 30 days, even in their private vehicle. Many employers who want to keep a clean fleet driving record will let a driver go after a speeding ticket, even when their ticket was in their private vehicle, thinking they avoided a rise in their insurance premium and are unwilling to provide the driver a second chance.

#2 Logbook Discrepancies (Severe Violation)

All commercial truck drivers in CA are required to maintain an accurate log book and have it physically available for inspection if stopped by law enforcement (LE) officials, otherwise, these are trucking violations. Further, this is proof of compliance with the hours of service regulations. Maintaining an accurate log book is critical and any discrepancies can cause serious penalties and fines upward of thousands of dollars.

The willful entering of false information in a log book is a major breach of the law. The hours of service rules are there to prevent truckers from driving when tired and possibly causing an accident. A truck driver may only drive for a limited number of hours each day and the correct number of hours driven and required breaks (at least 30 minutes after 8 hours) must be entered in the log book.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has developed and published the Federal standard for Hours of Service Regulations, both property carriers, and passenger carriers; however, it is up to each state to enforce these standards.

Please note that there are lesser logbook violations that don’t have these horrible effects. But most of the time on the side of the road CHP writes out a more serious violation.

#3 Overweight Trucks

The legal definition of an overweight truck is contained in CVC Section 35550 - 35558. The acceptable weight of the vehicle is listed in these CVC. The weight is determined by the number of axles located on the truck and the distance between them. The acceptable legal weight begins at 20,000 pounds on a single axle, with other requirements for more axles and the space between axles. However, the total must never exceed the Manufacturer Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR), which can be found on the Vehicle ID Plate, normally on the driver’s door panel in the US.

Being stopped by LE officers with an overweight truck can result in fines that start at $1080 for 1,001 pounds’ overweight and up to $8,080.00 for 10,001 or more pounds’ overweight. The actual fines and penalties for these trucking violations can be found in The Uniform Bail and Penalty Schedules.

#4 Wrong Route

When a truck driver takes the wrong route, it can be dangerous, and these are serious trucking violations for which you could receive a ticket. The State of CA’s Department of Transportation (CALTRANS) conducts surveys and studies to determine the braking capability of trucks at various weights on various grades (normally 6% or higher) and when there is no possible slow lane for trucks, these vehicles might be prohibited for safety reasons. These routes do have signs stating this fact and most commercial route planners and CA native drivers know these restrictions.

Take for example, CVC 31602, Transporting explosives, explains the license requirements, the routes to be used, and stopping requirements specified. Violations of these CVCs can result in fines up to $4,075.00.

The laws pertaining to commercial truck drivers in CA are there for safety reasons and to ensure companies using CA roads pay the appropriate taxes/tolls to maintain our roads. All truck drivers must take care to follow these laws or face serious consequences.

California's Best Traffic Ticket Defenders for Truckers

All tickets for trucking violations can mean a loss of license and thus, unemployment. No matter which infraction you are facing, if you are convicted you must notify your employer. The best advice we can give any trucker or CDL holder is to consult a professional traffic ticket attorney before deciding on a course of action for your ticket. Is your ticket worth fighting? For CDL holders the answer to that question is almost always yes.

At Bigger & Harman, we have been protecting the rights of truckers in traffic court for decades. We know CA traffic law and we practice it nearly every day in the courtroom or in our office gathering evidence and preparing documents.

In courthouses throughout SoCal, such as Porterville in Tulare County, Lamont courthouse in Kern County, or Hanford, in Kings County, we defend accused trucking violations for speeding, overweight, wrong routes, improper permits, and many others. Call Bigger & Harman for a complimentary consultation, 661-349-9300. Or, send an email: attorney@markbigger.com

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