Following too closely is a “serious offense” for commercial motor vehicle (CMV) drivers according to the DOT FMCSA Regulations.
What Does the DOT FMCSA Say about Following Too Closely?
The FMCSA published an article, CMV Driving Tips - Following Too Closely, in which they provide their definition of tailgating or following too closely, “…situations in which one vehicle is following another vehicle so closely that even if the following driver is attentive to the actions of the vehicle ahead he/she could not avoid a collision in the circumstance when the driver in front brakes suddenly.”
Of course, what’s essential to note here is their article can only be considered as “advice” because commercial drivers are not ticketed or tried at the Federal DOT level. A ticket for following too close or tailgating does not even come to their attention until after a driver willfully pays the traffic ticket or is convicted in traffic court at the state level.
After the conviction or paid ticket, the state DMV or similar authority notifies the FMCSA, and Compliance, Safety, & Accountability (CSA) points are assessed for the carrier and the driver. Although a following too closely conviction is only five CSA severity points, it is a serious offense. A second within three years will result in a driver’s disqualification for 60-days, and a third will get the driver a 120-day disqualification.
That is why it is crucial for every CDL holder to challenge every allegation of tailgating or following too closely. You must not assume that because the law enforcement officer’s (LEO) perspective of the situation makes you look guilty, what matters is what they can prove. The burden of guilt is on the state. An experienced and knowledgeable traffic attorney can raise the “reasonable doubt” level with the judge to perhaps get the charge dismissed or a reduced no-point conviction.
With a no-point conviction, the driver will still pay a fine. Therefore, you might pay the fine and the lawyer, but what is your CDL worth? Since there are no points for the offense, it is like an expensive parking ticket, not reportable to the FMCSA. Thus, there is no “serious offense.” Keep in mind; there is no guarantee of dismissal or reduction. Consult a traffic attorney before you decide.
What Does the CA Traffic Code Say about Following Too Closely or Tailgating?
The CA Vehicle Code (CVC) Section 21703, Driving, Overtaking, and Passing states, “The driver of a motor vehicle shall not follow another vehicle more closely than is reasonable and prudent, having due regard for the speed of such vehicle and the traffic upon, and the condition of, the roadway.”
Many law professionals consider the wording in the code as subjective. What distance is “reasonable and prudent?” The LEO’s opinion of those two conditions might be quite different from what a traffic court judge might regard as reasonable. All a traffic attorney needs to do is raise a reasonable doubt with the judge.
Call Bigger & Harman When You Get a Following Too Closely Ticket in Riverside County, CA
No matter the circumstances, a four-wheel vehicle cutting in too soon, or in the LEO’s perspective, you were following too close for the weather conditions, give Bigger & Harman a call, (661) 349-9300. Se habla Español (661) 349-9755.
We offer all CDL holders a no-obligation, free initial consultation. Plus, we use a standard rate to resolve your traffic issue regardless of how many times we must appear in court.
The 2019 CA Commercial Driver Handbook.pdf
CVC Section 21703, Driving, Overtaking, and Passing
The Balance article, A Guide to CSA Point Values and Transportation e