Protect Your Driving Privileges Fight Your Ticket With Bigger & Harman Today

undefinedCommercial driving is a demanding job, requiring the utmost attention and skill to keep the roadways safe. Yet, in the blink of an eye, a ticket for a seemingly minor traffic violation can turn into a DOT FMCSA serious offense, jeopardizing your livelihood as a professional driver. 

In CA, once the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) is notified by the court of a conviction, it assesses the appropriate negligent operator treatment system (NOTS) points, either 1.5 or three for a violation in a commercial motor vehicle (CMV), and then notifies the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), triggering the possibility of federal penalties.

These penalties, at minimum, will include Compliance, Safety, and Accountability (CSA) points that will be retained on the driver’s Pre-employment Screening Program (PSP) record for three years.

A second conviction of “serious offense” within that three years, will result in a minimum 60-day driver disqualification. If you are terminated, all fleets that consider hiring you must view your PSP before hiring. They will very likely use that information to determine your per-mile pay and benefits.

DOT FMCSA Serious Offense #1—Excessive Speeding

Speeding may be a common traffic violation, but it could be a serious offense under the DOT FMCSA regulations. Excessive speeding—driving 15 miles per hour or more above the posted speed limit—can swiftly lead to harsh penalties. Likewise, any speeding in a construction zone is also a serious offense. A second conviction within three years mandates a minimum 60-day disqualification of your commercial driving privileges.

Likewise, 15 mph over the statewide 55 mph speed limit for commercial vehicles is a misdemeanor. Consult a traffic attorney immediately if ticketed.

DOT FMCSA Serious Offense #2—Following Too Close

Commercial drivers are expected to maintain a safe following distance at all times. Falling short of this expectation and following another vehicle too closely is a DOT FMCSA serious offense. The potential risks this behavior poses, particularly in the context of large commercial vehicles, underscore the severity of the consequences.

Always consult a CA traffic attorney before deciding between paying the fine or disputing a serious offense.

DOT FMCSA Serious Offense #3—Unsafe Lane Change

Although an unsafe lane change is a minor infraction in CA, at the FMCSA, it's another serious offense. Improper signaling, failing to ensure the lane is clear, or changing lanes in an unsafe manner can put your CDL at risk, especially if repeated within a three-year period.

Often, these alleged violations are subjective and depend on the viewpoint of the law enforcement officer (LEO). Consult a traffic lawyer about the circumstances. 

DOT FMCSA Serious Offense #4—Illegal Cell Phone Use

With distracted driving a leading cause of traffic accidents, the DOT FMCSA has cracked down on illegal cell phone use while operating a commercial vehicle. If convicted, it's a DOT FMCSA serious offense that can lead to steep fines and potentially jeopardize your CDL.

Prior to 1 July 2021 and AB-47, Distracted Driving, the first conviction or paid fine was $150 and nothing more. However, with AB-47 came the directive for the DMV to assess commercial drivers 1.5 NOTS points for a second illegal cell phone use conviction after the court ordered a $250 fine.

That means the DMV will notify the DOT FMCSA of the conviction. If there are no points, the FMCSA is not notified. Therefore, it is wise to consult a traffic attorney about every illegal cell phone use ticket to ensure none goes on your record.  

DOT FMCSA Serious Offense #5—Reckless Driving

Reckless driving is a misdemeanor crime in CA and a DOT FMCSA serious offense. As a commercial driver, exhibiting such conduct places you and others in danger and signifies a breach of the professional trust bestowed upon you.

All CDL holders must exercise their “right to remain silent” and consult an attorney if charged with this serious offense.

Final Thoughts About DOT FMCSA Serious Offenses

These serious offenses may appear intimidating, but it's crucial to remember that a traffic ticket does not automatically translate to a conviction. With the right legal guidance, contesting these charges and safeguarding your career is possible.

Consulting with an experienced commercial driver's traffic attorney like those at the Bigger & Harman CA Traffic Attorney Law Firm can make all the difference in preserving your livelihood. 

We are committed to guiding and representing you in the face of these challenges. Don't let a DOT FMCSA serious offense threaten your commercial driving career—contact us today for a free, no-obligation consultation.

Consult a CA Traffic Attorney Firm That Practices in Woodland, CA

Consult with Bigger & Harman at (661) 349-9300 about your commercial lane violation tickets. Use their user-friendly contact form or email

Se habla Español (661) 349-9755.


The DMV Portal CA Commercial Driver Handbook.

The FMCSA CFR 49 Part 383.51Driver Disqualifications.

Share To: