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Coach Driver with Red-Light Ticket

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A bus or coach driver in their commercial motor vehicle (CMV) will pay the same fine of $450-500 for a red-light ticket as they would in their personal vehicle. Whether it is a camera-enforced ticket or a face-to-face encounter with a law enforcement officer (LEO), the fine is the same. However, the coach driver will get assessed 1.5 Negligent Operator Treatment System (NOTS) points and five Compliance, Safety and Accountability (CSA) points, which will affect their chances of getting a better job and could lead to a termination by an employer concerned with an increase in fleet insurance.

The CSA BASICS

There are seven Behavior Analysis and Safety Improvement Categories (BASICS) which the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) considers under the CSA program:

  1. Unsafe driving – collisions or safety violations
  2. Hours of Service (HOS) – driving when fatigued or HOS violations
  3. Driver fitness – medical clearance, CDL expired, suspended, or revoked
  4. Alcohol or controlled substances -- use or possession by a driver, or fleet management does not have a written policy
  5. Vehicle Maintenance – usually identified during roadside inspections
  6. Cargo – HazMat requirements and unsecured loads
  7. Collision indicators – reportable collisions

CDL holders should be aware of the BASICS to avoid CSA and NOTS points against their driving record. Too many CSA points could lead to an FMCSA inspection or intervention for the driver, fleet management, or both.

Likewise, many fleet managers and CDL employers worry about increased fleet insurance premiums. Some of these increases are in the $10,000 range annually. Therefore, they develop a zero-tolerance policy for all traffic tickets, even those which their drivers receive in their private vehicles.

Even though there is a shortage of CDL drivers nation-wide, there is a 90 percent turnover rate at the larger, higher paying companies, with zero-tolerance likely contributing to that rate.

Possible Red-Light Ticket Consequences

As a bus or coach driver, the assessment of CSA points affects your job security. These accountability measures are collected on individual drivers and carriers and include collisions and moving violations while driving a CMV. No violations while driving a personal vehicle are gathered to assess CSA points, but a commercial driver’s license (CDL) holder must report all convictions (paying the ticket is the same as a conviction) to their employer within 30 days, regardless of whether it was in their CMV or personal vehicle.

Additionally, employers can request a Pre-Employment Screening Program (PSP) from National Information Consortium (NIC) Technologies who provide a safety violation and collision report on prospective drivers as a pre-hiring check for carriers and private coach contractors. Thus, the CDL holder with zero CSA points will likely receive hiring preference over another with one or more at-fault accidents or safety violations. Plus, there is the ten-year driving history requirement and Employer Pull Notice (EPN), which employers can use as pre-hire screening.

Avoiding the Consequences of a Red-Light Ticket

CA Vehicle Code (CVC) 21455.7, Offenses Relating to Traffic Devices provides that “the minimum yellow light change interval shall be established in accordance with the California Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices.” However, many instances of municipalities across CA manipulating that interval have been uncovered, whether intentionally or unintentionally, it is a violation of your rights and a safety concern. Consulting with a traffic ticket attorney could lead to an investigation of the yellow light interval, the viewpoint of the LEO who issued a red-light ticket, or whether proper procedures were used to issue the photo-enforced red-light ticket.

Traffic ticket attorneys are aware of the procedures required by LEO to issue a photo-enforced red-light ticket. An experienced LEO must review the circumstances before issuing a ticket. And, the state must prove that the owner of the vehicle was the driver at the time of the photo. It is not necessary for the owner to disclose to the court who that driver was.

A skilled and experienced attorney will ask:

  • Was my client driving?
  • Can the driver be clearly identified?
  • Was the yellow-light interval correct?
  • Was the camera working correctly?
  • Did an experienced LEO review the
  • images and video before issuance?
  • Was running the red-light the safer choice to avoid an accident?

Although you may be tempted to represent yourself in traffic court to fight the red-light ticket, that is not advisable because it is a complicated issue. A traffic ticket attorney can investigate areas you may not have ready access to, and if you plead not guilty at arraignment, you will need to take another day off from work to return to court. The fine and traffic school alone are over $500, and an increase in your auto insurance premium could make it closer to $2000 over the three-year timeframe the conviction will remain on your motor vehicle driving record (MVR). And, we already discussed the possibility of termination from your CDL employer. Talk to a traffic ticket lawyer.

Bakersfield Traffic Ticket Lawyers

Call Bigger & Harman, (661) 349-9300, to talk about your red-light ticket. Let them ask the tough questions and investigate the incident. CDL holders must challenge every traffic ticket, not just to avoid a significant fine, but possible NOTS and CSA points, which could jeopardize your driving career.

Bigger & Harman only practice traffic law and have gotten dismissals and no-point violations for thousands of California drivers. They will resolve your ticket using a flat fee so you always know exactly how much you will pay; no surprise fees or expensive hourly wages, just the skilled and experienced representation you deserve.

Email attorney@biggerharmanlaw.com or send a private message to our Facebook Business page. Include a description of the event and a scanned copy of the ticket so that we can get the ball rolling before you come in for an initial consultation. We will reply promptly with our suggestions for resolving the ticket.

Visit our Avvo, Nolo,or Yelp websites and read the feedback and endorsements left by our clients.

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References:

The 2018 CA Commercial Driver Handbook .pdf

CVC 21455.7, Offenses Relating to Traffic Devices

The 2018 California Superior Court Bail Schedule for Infractions and Misdemeanors.pdf