When you get a ticket for speeding in a commercial vehicle, understanding your legal rights and responsibilities is crucial to navigating the slippery slopes of traffic court. Hiring an experienced and knowledgeable CA traffic attorney can help.
It is our experience that even attorneys in other areas of law consult with and hire us to resolve their traffic tickets. Traffic court can be a complicated and time-consuming endeavor for those unfamiliar with the system.
The California Economy from Its Ports
The transportation industry is a crucial backbone of the California economy and the country. Consider this, in 2022, $311 billion worth of cargo moved through the port of Los Angeles alone. That’s a 16% market share worldwide, and when combined with Long Beach, they make up a 29% market share—not to mention the other nine ports in CA, including the port at Oakland.
For those in the commercial driving sector, the struggle to meet tight deadlines often pushes drivers to speed and safety limits. If you're a commercial driver who has received a speeding ticket, you may feel overwhelmed by the potential consequences, which can be far more severe than for typical motorists.
The Nature of Speeding in a Commercial Vehicle
Speeding in a commercial vehicle carries a higher degree of risk and legal liability than in a personal car due to the size and weight of commercial vehicles.
Whether you're driving a semi-truck, a delivery van, or a charter/passenger bus, your vehicle's size magnifies the potential harm caused in an accident. This danger is reflected in the California Vehicle Code (CVC), where the penalties for speeding in a commercial vehicle are more severe than in a personal vehicle. CVC Sections 22406, Speed Laws restricts all commercial vehicles to a 55 mph statewide speed limit, and Section 22406.1 makes it a misdemeanor crime to speed 15 mph or more over that speed limit. Likewise, the DOT FMCSA considers excessive speed, 15 mph over the limit, a “serious offense.”
Violators convicted of exceeding those speeds can expect high fines, 50% more negligent operator treatment system (NOTS) points than their four-wheeled counterparts, higher insurance, and possible termination from fleet driving positions.
Commercial drivers must be aware of these increased risks and legal implications. A single conviction can lead to points on your commercial driving record, increased insurance premiums, job loss, or even a driver disqualification for 60 days for a second serious offense of excessive speed in your commercial motor vehicle (CMV).
These consequences could seriously affect your livelihood—especially if you are paid by the mile or load. Commercial driver’s license (CDL) holders, especially fleet drivers, must dispute every moving violation in court with a traffic attorney. It can be much cheaper than the alternative.
Legal Rights When Accused of Speeding in a Commercial Vehicle
When accused of speeding in a commercial vehicle, drivers have the same basic rights as any other driver. However, the judicial system often holds professional drivers to a higher standard.
You have the right to contest the ticket in court and present your case before a judge. Additionally, you're “presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.”
Many drivers treat traffic offenses differently than they would other offenses. They seem to think they can explain away the violation, and the traffic cop will let them off with a warning. That rarely happens in real life (IRL).
IRL, traffic enforcers often see commercial vehicle drivers as easy targets who make lots of money moving cargo. Then, during their “explanation” to the officer, they often admit guilt, which the cop catches on their bodycam to use against them in court. Exercise your “right to remain silent.”
Commercial drivers should be aware that their cases are often more complicated due to the CDL implications, such as potential driver disqualification periods established by the US DOT FMCSA.
You also have specific responsibilities, such as reporting out-of-state traffic convictions to your employer and the CA DMV within 30 days of a conviction, even in a personal vehicle and when unemployed.
“Each person who operates a commercial motor vehicle, who has a commercial driver's license issued by a State or jurisdiction, and who is convicted of violating, in any type of motor vehicle, a State or local law relating to motor vehicle traffic control (other than a parking violation), shall notify his/her current employer of such conviction. The notification must be made within 30 days after the date that the person has been convicted.”—Title 49, Part 383.31.
The Importance of Hiring a Traffic Attorney
Given the potentially severe penalties and complex legal landscape, why would commercial drivers try to navigate the judicial system alone? Hiring a traffic attorney to resolve your speeding ticket is convenient and often a more cost-effective choice.
While you continue to earn your pay by delivering cargo, an experienced traffic attorney can resolve your case. They can examine the circumstances of your charge, advise you on the best course of action, subpoena evidence, negotiate with traffic court judges, and represent you in court. It’s a fact that drivers represented by competent counsel get more dismissals and reduced convictions than those who pay the fine or represent themselves.
Without the assistance of a traffic attorney, commercial drivers run the risk of severe financial losses, such as turning down a load, increased insurance rates, and potential job loss. By contrast, a traffic attorney can help them protect their CDL, their job, and their family's financial stability.
In conclusion, speeding in a commercial vehicle in California can have serious consequences. But remember, you have rights, and experts are ready to assist. Employing the services of a seasoned traffic attorney can offer peace of mind, letting you focus on what you do best – keeping America’s products moving.
“The Uconnect connected-vehicle platform in over 1.8 million Chrysler, Dodge, Ram, and Jeep brand vehicles in North America include the Emergency Vehicle Alert System feature. This notifies drivers of active fire trucks, ambulances, and other roadway hazards. Future developments aim to expand the system's capabilities to include alerts for disabled passenger and commercial vehicles in proximity, further improving driver awareness.”—A public service announcement from Work Truck Online.
In Los Angeles, CA, Contact Bigger & Harman, APC
We routinely appear in Los Angeles Traffic Courts in LA County, CA, to assist commercial drivers with traffic tickets.
Se habla Español (661) 349-9755.
The DMV Portal CA Commercial Driver Handbook.
The DOT FMCSA CFR Part 383.31, Notification of Convictions for Driver Violations.
The CA DMV Employer Pull Notice (EPN) Program.
The worktruckonline.com article, Fleet Stories to Brighten Your Day: June 2023.