CA restricts most commercial vehicles to a 55 mph statewide speed limit. Commercial vehicle drivers that get caught driving 15 or more mph over that speed limit could receive a misdemeanor speeding ticket.
Some might wonder what’s the difference between the massive 2-bedroom RV and a tractor-trailer delivering America’s goods. Why is a trained and professional trucker limited to 55 mph on CA freeways, and the old retiree in the RV can fly by at 80?
What Is the Difference? Why a Misdemeanor Speeding Ticket in a Commercial Vehicle?
Why is it the only group of drivers threatened with a misdemeanor speeding ticket in CA is those drivers with a commercial driver’s license (CDL) in their commercial vehicle?
Even a noncommercial driver exceeding 100 mph does not face a misdemeanor charge.
Those convicted of a misdemeanor speeding ticket in a commercial vehicle in CA are subject to a “serious offense” violation for “excessive speeding” from the DOT FMCSA, which upon the second conviction of the same violation within three years will result in a driver’s disqualification of 60 days, and a third conviction within three years, 120 days.
But what about the seriousness of a conviction in CA? Why is it the two-axle RV driven by a 70-year-old driver with no special driving qualifications can get away with going 80 or 85 on the “five” when a trucker is subject to a misdemeanor speeding ticket?
The answer lies within CVC 22406, Speed Laws, which states, “No person may drive any of the following vehicles on a highway at a speed in excess of 55 miles per hour:”
- A truck, tractor-trailer, combination vehicle with three or more axles, or towing another vehicle
- A Bus or passenger vehicle hauling another vehicle
- Farm labor vehicle with passengers
- A school bus with pupils
- Any vehicle hauling explosives
So, you see, the key is three or more axles. That same RV towing a trailer or another vehicle is subject to the 55 mph speed limit as well. But not the misdemeanor speeding ticket unless it is also a commercial vehicle.
CVC Section 22406.1, Other Speed Laws, states explicitly, “A person who operates a commercial motor vehicle… upon a highway at a speed exceeding a posted speed limit…by 15 miles per hour or more, is guilty of a misdemeanor.”
Therefore, the RV towing their car behind is technically as heavy and dangerous as an empty semi-truck, but it is not a commercial vehicle and is not subject to CVC 22406.1.
Elements of Law
What many lay people fail to realize when deciding to hire an attorney is that the State has the burden of proof, and they must prove each “element of the law.”
When trying to prove someone is guilty of a misdemeanor speeding ticket, the State must prove:
- It was a commercial vehicle as defined in CVC 22406.
- The driver was “…exceeding a posted speed limit…by 15 miles per hour or more…”.
- That posted speed limit was 55 mph as prescribed in CVC 22406.
Therefore, the driver accused of a misdemeanor speeding ticket on the Grapevine where the speed limit dipped to 35 mph due to the grade would be found not guilty of a misdemeanor, even if the driver was going 50 or more, which is 15 mph over the posted speed limit because it does not meet all the elements or the intent of the law. However, potential DOT CSA score violations still apply.
That is why it is crucial to consult a traffic attorney when facing any traffic violation, particularly the CDL holder in a commercial vehicle. One moving violation could negatively affect your driving record, cause termination from your current fleet, and make it difficult to get new employment due to the conviction going on your Pre-employment Screening Program (PSP) record and your motor vehicle driving record (MVR) in CA.
Call the Bakersfield Attorneys, Bigger & Harman, When You Have a Misdemeanor Speeding Ticket
In fact, call Bigger & Harman, (661) 349-9300, when you have any traffic ticket.
We resolve traffic tickets for CA drivers, but we’re particularly proud of our reputation for excellence in assisting CDL holders with alleged violations. We offer a free initial consultation, special rates for truckers, and we use a flat fee. You will never get a surprise with our rate, only with our results. We have obtained dismissals and reduced no-point charges on cases other lawyers have turned down. Although there are no guarantees, we stand on our reputation of excellence.
Se habla Español (661) 349-9755.
The 2019-2021 CA Commercial Driver Handbook.pdf
Title 49 CFR Part 383.51, Paragraph 6.2.5, Driver Disqualifications