Unsafe lane change violations are common tickets issued to truck drivers in CA.
These types of tickets can be costly, especially for commercial drivers who may face serious consequences for convictions, including a DOT FMCSA “serious offense” on their Pre-employment Screening Program (PSP). If you're a commercial driver who has received an unsafe lane change ticket in CA, it's imperative to know your options.
What a Commercial Driver Should Do About an Unsafe Lane Change Ticket
As a commercial driver, your livelihood depends on your driving record. A conviction for an unsafe lane change violation can result in points added to your driving record, increased insurance rates, and even job loss. Therefore, taking an unsafe lane change ticket seriously and addressing it as soon as possible is essential.
One option is to dispute the ticket yourself in court. However, this is not always practical for commercial drivers who have tight schedules and cannot afford to take time off to appear in court.
Just as a traffic attorney may not know how to successfully navigate an 18-wheeler, a truck driver would be better served to hire a traffic attorney to navigate the legal system for them when charged with an unsafe lane change.
Another option is to hire a traffic attorney to represent you in court. A traffic attorney can help you navigate the legal system and increase your chances of getting the ticket dismissed or reduced.
What Not to Do
Whatever you do, do not ignore an unsafe lane change ticket. Failure to appear (FTA) in court or pay the ticket can result in additional penalties, including a misdemeanor charge for FTA after making a written promise to appear.
CA Vehicle Code (CVC) Section 40508, Release upon Promise to Appear, warns drivers that “A person willfully violating his or her written promise to appear or a lawfully granted continuance of his or her promise to appear in court or before a person authorized to receive a deposit of bail is guilty of a misdemeanor regardless of the disposition of the charge upon which he or she was originally arrested.”
Two things in that paragraph should stand out, “…willfully violating his or her promise to appear…” and “…is guilty of a misdemeanor…” Most knowledgeable and experienced attorneys can successfully raise an argument of “reasonable doubt” to a judge about what is a willful violation. Therefore, the judge must lower the charge from a misdemeanor or dismiss it entirely, though there is never a guarantee.
However, a conviction of any moving violation can lead to a loss of income and even damage the career of a commercial driver when the DMV sends the notification to the DOT FMCSA, and Compliance, Safety, and Accountability (CSA) severity points are added to the driver’s PSP record.
Additionally, politely do not admit fault when pulled over by the police, but do not argue and definitely do not lie! You have the right to remain silent as to the charge. CVC Section 22107, Turning and Stopping and Turning Signals requires drivers to signal at least 100 feet before changing lanes and then wait until it is safe. However, it's not uncommon for police officers to issue unsafe lane change tickets without sufficient evidence.
Therefore, it's important to remain calm and avoid admitting fault. Let a traffic attorney present your case in court to raise the level of “reasonable doubt” about your guilt or innocence. Typically, the results of a traffic trial have very little to do with guilt or innocence. The most significant factor is often the presentation of facts.
If, for instance, a vehicle that just passed you pulled back in prematurely, and you have to swerve from your lane without signaling to avoid hitting them, are you guilty of an unsafe lane change? Technically, you are. Logically, you are not.
Consequences of a Moving Violation Conviction for a Fleet Driver
As a fleet driver, you may face additional consequences for a moving violation conviction, including disciplinary action from your employer. Fleet companies typically have strict policies when it comes to driving records and may terminate drivers who accumulate negligent operator treatment system (NOTS) and CSA severity points. CSA severity points affect the fleet insurance premium.
Moreover, a conviction can also lead to increased insurance premiums, which can be a significant financial burden for both drivers and fleet companies. Therefore, it's crucial to keep a clean driving record to maintain your job and potentially receive higher pay and better benefits from larger trucking firms.
Likewise, an unsafe lane change conviction is a DOT FMCSA “serious offense.” A second conviction within three years of the first will lead to a 60-day driver disqualification. Fleet managers get genuinely skittish about retaining drivers with a serious offense conviction.
Therefore, receiving an unsafe lane change ticket in CA can have serious consequences for commercial drivers if convicted. It's imperative to take immediate action to dispute the ticket in court or hire a traffic attorney to represent you. Avoid admitting fault and keep a clean driving record to protect your livelihood as a commercial driver.
Remember, it's always better to be safe than sorry about traffic violations. Always consult a CA traffic attorney to assist you in Roseville Traffic Court for moving violations, such as an unsafe lane change.
Consult with Bigger & Harman, APC, to Resolve an Unsafe Lane Change Ticket in Roseville, CA
Call Bigger & Harman at (661) 349-9300 or email email@example.com.
Commercial drivers always receive a free initial consultation with us, by phone, Zoom, email, or our online contact form.
Se habla Español (661) 349-9755.
The DMV Portal CA Commercial Driver Handbook.
The FMCSA CFR 49 Part 383.51, Driver Disqualifications.