Traffic convictions can seriously affect all drivers, but the stakes are much higher for commercial drivers. A traffic conviction can affect a commercial driver's livelihood and ability to continue working.
In this blog post, we will examine the consequences of traffic convictions for commercial drivers, including serious offenses, CDL driver disqualifications, non-commercial traffic convictions, the likely outcome if the accusing law enforcement officer (LEO) does not show up for trial, and why it's vital to a commercial driver’s career to hire a traffic attorney.
The Department of Transportation Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (DOT FMCSA) considers certain traffic violations "serious offenses." A second conviction can result in a 60-day driver disqualification if received within three years of the first (from conviction date to conviction date).
These include reckless driving, unsafe lane changes, following too closely (tailgating), illegal phone use while driving, speeding 15 or more mph over the speed limit, and driving without a valid CDL. It's vital to note that other serious offenses can result in a driver's disqualification, depending on the specific circumstances.
Another serious offense is an improper railroad crossing, which, if convicted, will result in an immediate 60-day driver’s disqualification.
CDL Driver Disqualifications
A CDL driver can be disqualified for various reasons, including major violations and serious offenses, multiple traffic violations, or failure to comply with federal regulations, such as logbook and hour of service (HOS) violations. Depending on the offense, a CDL driver's disqualification can last for months, a year, or life.
A second conviction within three years of the first serious offense will result in an FMCSA driver’s disqualification for 60 days, a third, 120 days, a fourth, one year, and a fifth will result in a lifetime ban.
Non-Commercial Traffic Convictions
Non-commercial traffic convictions, such as speeding or running a red light, typically do not directly affect the Pre-employment Screening Program (PSP) record, but they must be reported to the driver's employer and the DOT FMCSA.
A pattern of non-commercial traffic convictions can lead to a negligent operator treatment system (NOTS) suspension and probation notice being issued by the DMV. The driver must then request a DMV NOTS hearing and try to get points removed from their motor vehicle driving record (MVR) in CA.
If they cannot get points removed, they might be deemed “negligent operator.” To operate a commercial vehicle, they must get a traffic court judge to give them a “restricted license.” These are difficult to get on your own but are usually easier for a knowledgeable and experienced traffic attorney. The best method is to avoid traffic convictions by commercial drivers, and the best way to do that is to challenge every violation with a traffic attorney.
When the Law Enforcement Officer (LEO) Doesn't Show Up for Trial
The driver or a traffic attorney can ask the judge to dismiss the case if the officer does not show up for trial. However, it's important to note that this defense is not always successful because some police departments pay their officers overtime for court dates. Plus some judges will find “good cause” to continue the case until the officer is present.
An attorney that only practices traffic law spends an inordinate amount of time in traffic court and knows many of the court personnel, judges, and LEOs. The attorney can ask for a dismissal if they see that the LEO is not in court when it is time for trial (it is not required for them to appear at arraignment). If the judge attempts to continue the matter, the attorney will have the best arguments to oppose a continuance and ask for an immediate dismissal. You are guaranteed by the constitution the right to face your accuser.
Hire a Traffic Attorney to Avoid Traffic Convictions for Commercial Drivers
If you are a commercial driver facing a traffic conviction, it's important to seek the guidance of an experienced traffic attorney. A traffic attorney can review the evidence and develop a strategy for defending the citation or negotiating with the traffic court judge for a reduced non-moving violation or dismissal. By working with a traffic attorney, you may be able to avoid a traffic conviction and protect your CDL and livelihood.
Click here and scroll to the bottom to download our e-book.
Consult a CA Traffic Attorney Who Practices in Woodland, CA
Traffic convictions can seriously affect commercial drivers, including fines, driver disqualifications, lost income, and termination. If you are a commercial driver facing a traffic conviction, it's important to consult with Bigger & Harman at (661) 349-9300 about your commercial vehicle traffic ticket. Use their user-friendly contact form or email email@example.com.
Se habla Español (661) 349-9755.
The DMV Portal CA Commercial Driver Handbook.
The FMCSA CFR 49 Part 383.51, Driver Disqualifications.