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Should I Fight a Ticket for Following Too Closely in My Commercial Vehicle

undefinedMany charter bus and truck drivers routinely ask their friends, “Should I fight a ticket for following too closely in my truck?” Other CDL holders often reply, “Just pay the fine, you can’t beat the law.”

However, many of these are truckers working for small trucking firms that do not pay very well because instead of fighting their traffic ticket, they paid the fine and got terminated by the high-paying trucking firm they were working for when they got the ticket.

Some others might have thought, “Well, I wasn’t following too closely until after that four-wheeler cut back in too soon, but how can I prove that?” You must consult a traffic attorney because it is not your responsibility  to prove your innocence. It is up to the state to prove your guilt. Sometimes, following too closely is just the subjective judgment of the law enforcement officer (LEO).

Is Following Too Closely a Judgment Call?

When the LEO issuing the following too closely ticket to a trucker cannot see the entire situation, it might be based on incorrect appearances. Therefore, they make the judgment that the truck driver was following too closely to be safe.

A large majority of these tickets go against the trucker only because they are the biggest vehicle involved, which often makes them an easy target. Truckers and charter bus drivers must fight these tickets vigorously with an attorney simply because they are a “serious offense” according to DOT FMCSA regulations. 

Following Too Closely a Serious Offense

According to the Motor Carrier Safety Planner and the DOT FMCSA CFR Title 49 Part 383.51, Chapter 6.2.5, 6.2.5 Disqualification of Driversthere are two types of disqualifying offenses, a “major offense” and a “serious offense.”   

A conviction for a “major offense” typically leads to an automatic one-year commercial driving disqualification, which includes:

  • DUI alcohol or controlled substance (these could include prescription or over-the-counter (OTC) medication).
  • Refusal of a toxicology test.
  • Hit & Run or leaving the scene of an accident.
  • Commission of a felony in a commercial vehicle (some cases could require a lifetime mandatory disqualification).
  • Driving with a suspended, revoked, disqualified, or canceled CDL.
  • Negligent operation of a commercial vehicle leading to a fatality.

Likewise, a conviction for “serious offense” usually requires a 60-day disqualification for the second offense and 120-days for a third within three years of the first, and include:

  • Speeding more than 15 mph over the speed limit.
  • Reckless driving.
  • Unsafe lane change.
  • Following too closely.
  • Disregarding a traffic control device that leads to a fatality.
  • No commercial learner’s permit (CLP) or CDL in possession.
  • Driving without the proper endorsement.
  • Use of a handheld device while driving.
  • Railroad crossing violations (this requires an immediate driving disqualification upon conviction of the first offense).   

CDL holders cannot afford to get even one serious offense on their MVR and PSP. Consult a traffic attorney immediately. 

What Is Following Too Closely According to CA Traffic Law

According to CA Vehicle Code (CVC) 21703Driving, Overtaking, and Passing, “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.” 

Since what is “reasonable and prudent” is often a judgment call, you need a traffic law professional to raise a legitimate “reasonable doubt” for the judge so that they can either dismiss the charge outright or accept a reduced no-point plea to keep it off your MVR and PSP.

Who Should You Call for a Following Too Closely Ticket in Riverside County, CA 

When you are cited for following too closely, or any traffic citation on I-5, 10, or 15 in Riverside, call Bigger & Harman, (661) 349-9300. Se habla Español (661) 349-9755.

We offer all CDL holders a free initial phone or email consultation (OK, we don’t exclude four-wheelers). However, the CDL holder has a lot more to lose than regular drivers, who face a $238 fine, one negligent operator treatment system (NOTS) point, and possible higher auto premiums.    

Email: attorney@biggerharmanlaw.com

References:

The 2019 CA Commercial Driver Handbook.pdf

CVC 21703Driving, Overtaking, and Passing

The Motor Carrier Safety Planner and DOT FMCSA CFR Title 49 Part 383.51, Chapter 6.2.5, 6.2.5 Disqualification of Drivers