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Protecting Your CDL

All my life I have wanted to be a long-haul trucker, well, ever since I can remember. My grandfather was a trucker and I so wanted to be like him. I was so amazed he even had a bed in his truck. We lived right beside the overpass on SR-99 when I was a kid. My best friend and cousin, Matt, used to run up there on the overpass whenever the parents were gone, which was just about every day because everyone worked. We’d stand up there and wait for one of those 18-wheelers to come along and we’d pump our fists, imitating the motion it took to pull the air horn. And, when they’d give us a hoot, we would laugh like crazy and high-five each other. Then, we’d run across the street to the other side and wave and pump our fists some more hoping for another hoot-hoot!

My cousin Matt is still a long-haul trucker and single, living in Colorado. He has a huge house in Colorado Springs that he doesn’t spend much time in, but his parents live there and take care of it for him. He always said he only wanted to be a trucker and that’s no life for a married man. He said, “I don’t need no woman tying me down.” Hey, don’t shoot me, I’m just relaying his message.

Anyway, I was a trucker once, ever so briefly. I had so many tickets my first two years, they took my commercial driver’s license (CDL) and I just stopped trying to get it back. It hurt too much whenever I got my hopes up and got rejected. If I had it to do all over again, I would protect my CDL and concentrate 100% of my energy on not getting a single ticket, that’s what Matt says he does.

The Four CA Vehicle Code Violations Every Trucker Should Avoid

If you think I am going to tell you about driving under the influence or speeding over 100 mph, you would be mistaken. Every trucker already knows to stay away from those two. Those are both a death sentence/career ender for a trucker. When you get a ticket for one of those, you better find another line of work.

The four I am referring to are Logbook infractions (cooking the books), wrong routes, overweight trucks, and speeding, 1-15 mph over the speed limit. Let’s take a closer look at each of these individually, so you’ll understand that CDL holders are held to a much higher standard than every day drivers, oh wait, that’s backward because truckers are every day drivers. I should have said occasional drivers.

Speeding 1-15 MPH Over the Limit

Most drivers that get stopped for 15 mph over the limit, figure, “Well, that’s going to cost me a couple hundred dollars here in CA. Do you know what a trucker or other commercial motor vehicle (CMV) driver thinks? “Expletive, I hope I will be able to keep my job.” Most people do not even realize there are employers that have a ZERO tolerance for drivers in their fleet who get a moving violation because the amount of fleet insurance they pay is based on the collective driving record of all their drivers.

Another concern for a CDL holder is the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regulation. That regulation makes 15 mph over the speed limit a “serious offense” subject to a 60-day suspension or more appropriately, an “out-of-service” order, which amounts to the same thing, except their CDL is a privilege granted by the state of CA and can only be suspended by a CA judge or the DMV. Therefore, if you are convicted of two serious offenses, yes there are more, such as improper lane change and tailgating among others, within two years you will be under an out of service order for 60-days. Imagine getting laid-off from your job for 60 days? Do you think your job would still be there when you get back?

Overweight Trucking

The fines for overweight trucking can be huge. Overweight tickets are approximately by-the-pound, so you can figure $1.00 for every pound overweight your truck was at the inspection station, which is run by CHP officers, by the way. Those others you see out there along the freeway are private weighing stations, there are 50 or more within just a few miles of Long Beach and Los Angeles, the two busiest seaports in the USA.

These private weigh stations are optional stops and will cost the driver money, but the public weigh stations or "Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Facilities" are not optional and CMV drivers must stop, submit to inspection, and if found overweight it will likely cost you a lot more. Two thousand pounds overweight for an 80,000-pound vehicle does not seem like much but could cost you $2000. We represented one trucker whose fine would have been $25,000, but we were fortunate enough to get it dismissed. Call us before you just pay the fine.

Log Book Infractions

Every time a trucker or CMV driver takes a rest or makes any changes, such as rest stops, a break in the sleeper, or time off for rest or sleep must be annotated in an “Hours of Service” log. You can see an example here. In addition, there are apps on smart phones that can be used if the trucker has it where they can see it and it is readily available for inspection, like on the dashboard. Most drivers are very attentive of their log books and make changes before they move the vehicle. The ones that don’t are usually trying to hide something, like driving more than FMCSA regulations allow, only 14 hours after a ten-hour rest period and you must take a 15-minute break after 8 hours of driving.

Wrong Routes

Most CDL holders or CMV drivers do not have to worry too much about this regulation, but holders of special permits such as explosives or hazardous material (HAZMAT) must. These drivers must stay on the route unless told by a law enforcement officer to change routes because of a road closure or municipal regulation change that makes it unlawful to proceed through their city with the material the driver is carrying. However, the driver must call it into the company dispatcher so it is logged there too and they must get back on the scheduled route as soon as possible after a detour. It is unlawful for a driver to arbitrarily change routes because there’s too much traffic on the route they are directed to travel.

Hire a Local Traffic Attorney

Choose Bigger & Harman. I chose these traffic attorneys, Bigger & Harman because of what I read in a comment on Yelp, “I'm a truck driver. Mark Bigger told me from the very beginning that he would do his best to reduce my moving violation to a non-point violation... he then did exactly what he said he'd try to do and got it reduced to a zero points violation...”– Michael K., Reno NV.

Call Bigger & Harman when you receive a ticket in Central Valley, including Kern, Fresno, Kings, Tulare, Mono, and others. Bigger & Harman has an excellent reputation with traffic court judges in Delano, Visalia, Bishop, Lamont, LA, and Santa Clarita.

Call Bigger & Harman today, 661-349-9300. Or, send an email: attorney@markbigger.com. For confidential and convenient appointment set up, use their website contact form.

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En español, llame al 661-349-9755.