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How to Avoid a Misdemeanor Record for a HazMat Violation in Kern County

undefinedMany novice drivers don’t realize there are more than 350 Hazardous Material (HazMat) violations that can result in a misdemeanor record.

When transporting hazmat, anything from improper shipping documents to stopping for a cup of coffee at an unauthorized spot could get you a misdemeanor hazmat violation. That’s right, the CA highway patrol control where you can stop for a break. Despite the DOT FMCSA requiring a 30-minute break within eight hours of starting your journey and the lack of parking spots in the overcrowded “approved” stopping areas, none of this will keep you from getting cited for the hazmat violation. 

What Are the Top HazMat Violations That Lead to a Misdemeanor Record

Although these hazmat violations could differ from one state to another, in CA, the top hazmat violations, with the base fine and negligent operator treatment system (NOTS) points, are:

CA Vehicle Code (CVC) Section 31602 (a–c)Transportation of Explosives begins each subparagraph with “It is a misdemeanor for any owner of a vehicle to drive or permit the driving of the vehicle…” and although this CVC deals only with explosives, several other CVCs identify hazmat violations that are also misdemeanor crimes if accused and convicted.

What’s more, those convictions carry a fine of $4,175 and three NOTS points, which could make you one violation away from maximizing your NOTS total for the year even with the additional leeway available from the DMV based on the added risk faced by a commercial driver who drives 60 or 70 hours per week.  Additionally, some endorsements carry even stricter point requirements. 

Other misdemeanor hazmat violations include: No accessibility to shipping papers; unsecured packages or packaging; improperly placed placards; placards obscured or unreadable; packages leaking; smoking in or around the vehicle or use of other flammables; and/or missing emergency response information. 

As you can see in the image above, you must check the route, have your hazmat endorsement with you, only stop in authorized rest stops, keep the shipping documents and maps within reach, check the placards for location and accuracy, and regardless of who loaded it, check to make sure it is secure before you drive away and at rest breaks along the way.

The best defense against a hazmat violation is proper preparation, attention to detail, and checking everything twice. However, even the most careful driver can have a bad day and wind up with a misdemeanor when hauling hazmat. You need the advice and counsel of a Kern County traffic attorney with courtroom knowledge and experience. 

Before you make a statement to a law enforcement officer or officer of the court, contact Bigger & Harman immediately. These are serious charges with severe penalties, so exercise your “right to remain silent,” and give us a call.   

Call Bigger & Harman When Charged with HazMat Violation in Kern County to Possibly Avoid a Misdemeanor Record 

Whereas there is no guarantee we can get a dismissal or reduced non-criminal charge, call Bigger & Harman (661) 349-9300. 

We have the traffic court knowledge and the criminal court experience you need to give an excellent chance of dismissal or a negotiated deal that doesn’t include a criminal record that will follow you for life. Give us a call to discuss your particular situation before you make a statement to law enforcement or court officials.   

Se habla Español (661) 349-9755.

Email: attorney@biggerharmanlaw.com

References:

The DMV Portal CA Commercial Driver Handbook Copyright 2022.

The FMCSA CFR 49 Part 383.51Driver Disqualifications