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Is Paying a Monthly Fee for CDL Protection Worth It?

undefinedSome truckers are saying that CDL protection could be worth it for the first-year driver, depending on how much you pay. You can make some expensive mistakes in the first year. But otherwise, it is probably not worth it unless your fleet pays it as part of a benefits package. Particularly because how good of a lawyer you get from those services is often dependent on the area.  You also don’t get the personalized attention from a pre paid service that you would get from a full service traffic ticket law firm. 

What might be wiser is to take a portion (say $5,000) of the sign-on bonus some trucking companies are paying and put it in an emergency fund that draws interest. Some are paying $10 or $20,000 for signing up with them. That way, you have an emergency fund for any eventuality, including a lawyer if you get a ticket.     

Let’s Do the Math on CDL Protection Coverage 

One thing most truckers agree on is that you need to contest or challenge every moving violation, roadside violation, at-fault accident, or significant CSA severity points with an attorney. Chances are it will cost less for an attorney than for your to turn down a load to attend traffic court and have a lesser chance of avoiding the points. 

Some call it a CDL Legal Plan or CDL Insurance. If you are paying $100 per month, there are cheaper plans, but you might as well get the best package. OK, so that’s $1,200 a year, and there’s no guarantee they will get your ticket dismissed or reduced. The only one that can dismiss or reduce your ticket is the judge. 

Plus, no matter which plan you get, they don’t handle previous convictions. What that means is if you were convicted for an unsafe lane change before you got the CDL protection, they would charge you to appeal or reopen that conviction. You should appeal it if you have a good procedural way of reopening it, though, because a second conviction means a 60-day driver’s disqualification under the FMCSA “serious offense” rule.

Most commercial drivers know they must contest a traffic violation every time. 

What’s more, if your fleet is paying, you will have to notify them whenever you get a ticket. Now, you could be terminated because they have a zero-defect mentality when it comes to moving violations. Therefore, whether they get a dismissal or not, you will be looking for another trucking company. If you handle it and there’s no conviction, you don’t even have to notify your employer, according to DOT FMCSA rules.

DOT FMCSA Employer Notification Requirement 

The FMCSR Part 383.31, Notification of Conviction for Drivers, states, “…you must report all convictions to your employer within thirty days.” If there’s no conviction, there’s no violation, so no need for CDL protection.

So, let’s say that you get a ticket for an overweight truck. You were 1200 pounds over at the weigh station on I-80 in Truckee, Nevada County, CA. If the CDL protection gets the case dismissed, you’re even for the year (typically, in CA, an overweight truck works out to $1.00 per pound overweight). 

However, a local CA traffic attorney might charge quite a bit less than $1,200. They would be in a better position, usually, to get a dismissal because they know the judge and how they rule on overweight trucks, the law enforcement officers (LEO), and whether they will typically be in court or not, where to go to file court documents. They know the court staff so that they can collect subpoenas and other evidence more readily.    

But, what if you don’t have a ticket for five years? You gave the CDL protection personnel $6,000. Wouldn’t it make more sense to put $100 a month in the bank and take it out to hire a CA traffic attorney if you need one? This is especially true if you get a sign-on bonus.

Whether You Use CDL Protection or Hire a CA Traffic Attorney, Challenge Every Violation

You might think you cannot afford an attorney. Still, most CA traffic attorneys use a flat fee to resolve traffic tickets, at-fault accident determinations, and DMV NOTS hearing to get an allowance for more NOTS points before suspension based on more risk due to miles driven.  

Trucking Tickets in Nevada County 

Whether you have a speeding ticket on I-80 or an overweight truck at the Donner Pass Weigh Station in Truckee, Nevada County, CA, call Bigger & Harman, APC, to discuss your specific circumstances (661) 349-9300. 

We handle CDL violations for what will probably amount to a lot less than the monthly payment for CDL protection. We’re not saying it is not wise to carry CDL protection — It might be good for you, especially if your fleet management is paying for it.

However, you should always consult a CA traffic attorney before deciding to pay the fine, accept responsibility for an accident, or let the DMV or FMCSA disqualify you from driving. It’s your livelihood, after all. 

Se habla Español 661.349.9755.

Send them an email, attorney@biggerharmanlaw.com.

References:

The 2019-2021 CA Commercial Driver Handbook.pdf

FMCSR Part 383.31, Notification of Conviction for Drivers