A second conviction on a DOT FMCSA “serious offense” within three years of the first will lead to a 60-day driver’s disqualification period, severely damaging your career as a commercial driver’s license (CDL) holder.
The DOT FMCSA warns fleet managers:
“…a conviction for a disqualifying offense automatically disqualifies a driver from driving for the period specified in the regulations. Thus, so long as a motor carrier knows, or should have known, of a driver’s conviction for a disqualifying offense, it is prohibited from using the driver during the disqualification period.”—DOT FMCSA.
What the DOT FMCSA Considers a Serious Offense?
The CDL holder must hire a traffic attorney to vigorously defend any accusation involving a serious offense, which includes all the following:
- Following too closely.
- An unsafe lane change.
- Speeding fifteen or more mph over the state speed limit or any speeding within a construction zone.
- Reckless driving.
- Illegal cell phone use.
- No commercial driver’s license (CDL), commercial learning permit (CLP), or the correct endorsement for the vehicle you are operating or necessary Hazardous Material.
- Failure to obey a traffic control device that leads to a fatal accident.
Although the fine for some of these could be as little as $237, for CLD holders, they are considered a serious offense with a conviction or paid fine. The second serious offense for the same violation within three years could lead to a 60-day driver’s disqualification if convicted. A CDL holder’s best option is to hire a CA traffic attorney to dispute their first and subsequent tickets so that there is never a second conviction.
It used to be in CA, you could get multiple cell phone violations in your truck, and the DOT FMCSA was not notified because it wasn’t considered a moving violation. Since AB-47 was approved and enforced starting in July of 2021, a second cell phone conviction or paid fine by any driver will be assessed one negligent operator treatment system (NOTS) point for a Class “C” driver and 1.5 NOTS points for a Class “A” or “B” commercial driver.
“…a violation point shall be given only for a conviction of a violation of CVC Section 23123, occurring on or after July 1, 2021, that occurs within 36 months of a prior conviction for the same offense.”—CA AB-47.
It could be dangerous to your career to leave a ticket for a serious offense unresolved, which will likely lead to a failure to appear (FTA) charge, just pay the fine, or represent yourself.
According to CVC Section 40508, Release Upon Promise to Appear, an FTA could lead to a bench warrant, a misdemeanor charge, additional fines, and more trouble.
Some might think paying the fine for a first offense is the most convenient and least expensive, but what if that was the easier of the two to dispute and get a dismissal? You could box yourself into a corner and a 60-day unpaid vacation, remaining on your Pre-employment Screening Program (PSP) record for three years.
Then, if your fleet manager replaces you behind the wheel while you serve the 60-day disqualification, it could be nearly impossible to get another firm to take you on even after serving your 60 days. Even those that would still take you on will probably not pay as much per mile.
Representing yourself is not a good idea either. First, you are taking yourself off the road for one or two days to dispute the ticket, which could be more costly than the attorney who knows what elements of the traffic code the law enforcement officer (LEO) must prove to the judge “beyond a reasonable doubt.”
Second, when the LEO doesn’t show up or can’t meet the reasonable doubt standard, the judge must dismiss the charge if you know when and how to request a dismissal.
Just as you wouldn’t let just anyone drive your truck, you shouldn’t let just anybody defend your CDL!
When You Need a Traffic Attorney for Roseville Traffic Court in Placer County, Call Bigger & Harman
Anytime you are accused of a serious offense violation in Roseville, CA, call Bigger & Harman (661) 349-9300 for a free consultation.
The best method to avoid a second conviction of a DOT FMCSA serious offense in your commercial vehicle is never to have a first. Give us a call to discuss your options.
Se habla Español (661) 349-9755.
The DMV Portal CA Commercial Driver Handbook Copyright 2022.
CVC Section 40508, Release Upon Promise to Appear.
The FMCSA CFR 49 Part 383.51, Driver DisqualificationsThe Balance article, What Do CSA Point Values Mean to Me.