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undefinedBelieve it or not, there are more than 350 misdemeanor hazardous material violations.

What Is a Hazardous Material

The Department of Transportation (DOT) defines hazardous material as:

“A substance or material that the Secretary of Transportation has determined is capable of posing an unreasonable risk to health, safety, and property when transported in commerce, and has been so designated.”

That definition or designation makes it easier to understand why the DOT FMCSA has made so many offenses misdemeanor hazardous material violations.

The Top 5 Misdemeanor Hazardous Material Violations

Rather than try to explain a myriad of misdemeanor charges, let’s look at the top five.

#1 — Speeding with Hazardous Material Cargo

Of course, speeding. It is the most common traffic violation worldwide. However, very few places make it a misdemeanor crime, and it’s rare for only commercial drivers to be saddled with a crime for doing their job. But it does make sense not to speed with hazardous material onboard.

CA Vehicle Code (CVC) Section 22406.1, Speed Laws, only applies to commercial vehicles subject to CVC Section 22406, which specifically pinpoints “A vehicle transporting explosives.”

This violation is also a DOT FMCSA “serious offense.” A second conviction will lead to a 60-driver disqualification.

#2 — Taking a Break in an Unauthorized Location

CVC Section 31602 (c), Transportation of Explosives, warns that stopping or allowing a stop in an unapproved area while transporting explosives is illegal. The CHP issues route maps with approved stops marked. A fine of $4,175 and three negligent operator treatment system (NOTS) points may be assessed for violations of this section that lead to a conviction.

#3 — Missing or Outdated Route Maps

CVC Section 31611, Transportation of Explosives, mandates that each vehicle hauling hazardous material carry an up-to-date route map approved by the CHP.

“…safe stopping places prescribed by the regulations of the Department of the California Highway Patrol for vehicles transporting explosives.”

Once again, a conviction under this section can result in a $4,175 fine and three NOTS points. There are also Compliance, Safety, and Accountability (CSA) severity points and possible civil penalties.

#4 — An Incorrect or Missing Endorsement to the Commercial Driver’s License (CDL)

The CVC Section 31602 (a), Transportation of Explosives, mandates that drivers hauling explosives musthave their CDL and the correct endorsement in their possession. A $4,175 fine, three NOTS points, CSA severity points, and FMCSA civil penalties are also possible if convicted.

#5 — An Hours of Service (HOS) Rules Violation

A conviction for violating the DOT FMCSA HOS rules while hauling hazardous materials is a misdemeanor crime. The driver will immediately be issued an Out-of-Service (OOS) Order and citation.

The wise driver will exercise their “right to remain silent” and contact Bigger & Harman before answering law enforcement or court officials' questions.

In many cases, we are able to get the prosecutor or judge to reduce the misdemeanor to an infraction based on the violation being a “wobbler or woblette.”

The Cornell Law School Legal Information Institute (LII) WEX defines a wobbler/woblette:

“Wobblers can be punishable as either a felonyor a misdemeanorand has been referred toas an ‘alternative felony/misdemeanor.’ Whether a wobbler should be treated as a felony, or a misdemeanor is up to a trial court's discretion.”

A wobblette under CA law is a violation between a misdemeanor and an infraction. It meets the legal definition of a crime but is not extreme enough to hang a criminal record on a driver because they left their hazardous material endorsement at home, had an outdated map, or whatever.

Contact Bigger & Harman If You’ve Been Charged with a Misdemeanor Hazardous Material Violation in Kern County, CA

Bigger & Harman is a traffic defense law firm that routinely practices in Bakersfield and other Kern County Courthouses, such as Mojave, Lamont, Ridgecrest, Delano, and Shafter.

It may sound cliché when we say to remain silent, but many cases we could have won were thwarted because the driver admitted guilt while explaining what happened to law enforcement.

Most law enforcement officers wear a body cam now, and when you make a statement trying to clear yourself, they can use your statement against you and even play the video in court if they believe it necessary. Just give us a fighting chance.

Call us at (661) 349-9300, utilize our handy online contact form or email us

Download our e-book, Protecting Your Commercial Driver License.

Se habla Español (661) 349-9755.


The DMV Portal CA Commercial Driver Handbook.

The DOT FMCSA 49 CFR Part 383.51, Paragraph 6.2.5, Disqualification of Drivers.

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