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undefinedSince AB-47Distracted Driving, was enacted, the amendment to CA Vehicle Code (VC) Section 23123.5Driving Offenses, on 1 July 2021, commercial drivers with a commercial driver’s license (CDL) texting while driving ticket must dispute it every time.    

Before the amendment, drivers could pay the fine for an illegal cell phone use ticket without a negligent operator treatment system (NOTS) point, which meant the DOT FMCSA would never know about the violation.

However, since the AB-47 amendment mandates the DMV assess 1.5 NOTS points for a second cell phone use conviction, the driver doesn’t know which will be easier to get dismissed, if at all. There are no guarantees. 

A Second CDL Texting While Driving Ticket Is Now a Moving Violation

Although the fine for a first-time illegal cell phone use in a CMV is only $150 and the second $260, when the DMV is notified of a second cell phone use paid fine or court conviction, they assess the commercial driver’s license (CDL) holder 1.5 NOTS points and notify the DOT FMCSA.

Existing law provides an exemption for the electronic device violations described above from being counted as points against a driver’s record for purposes of suspension or revocation of the privilege to drive. This bill would instead make only those electronic device violations that occur within 36 months, beginning July 1, 2021, of a prior conviction for the same offense subject to a violation point against the driver’s record.”

Or a 1.5 point violation for commercial drivers, according to CA VC Section 12810.5Issuance and Renewal of Licenses. 

The FMCSA has developed a mantra, “No Call, No Text, No Ticket!”

“Multiple violations of State law prohibiting texting while driving a CMV that requires a CDL is a serious traffic violation that could result in a CDL driver being disqualified for up to 120 days.” — Cell Phone Use Fact Sheet.

When the FMCSA gets the notification, they will issue Compliance, Safety, and Accountability (CSA) severity points, which could trigger a $2,750 and a 60-day driver disqualification for a second conviction of a serious offense. 

However, the $2,750 civil penalty at the FMCSA is the maximum fine, not a mandatory amount.

These severity points are kept on the driver’s Pre-employment Screening Program (PSP) record for three years and the carrier’s DataQs for two years. 

“Penalties can be up to $2,750 for drivers and up to $11,000 for employers who allow or require drivers to use a hand-held communications device for texting while driving. Disqualification - Multiple convictions for texting while driving a CMV can result in a driver disqualification by FMCSA.” — No Texting Rule Fact Sheet.

Typically, the DMV will not specifically spell out “texting while driving.” They will only state that the CDL holder violated the State’s cell phone use policy for a second time. Both are serious offenses according to 49 CFR Part 383.51, Paragraph 6.2.5Disqualification of Drivers

Which Are FMCSA “Serious Offenses?”

“Serious offenses require a minimum disqualification of 60 days and include the following:

  • Violating laws relating to prohibiting texting or using a handheld mobile telephone while driving a CMV.
  • Speeding excessively (15 mph or more over the speed limit). 
  • Making improper or erratic traffic lane changes.
  • Driving recklessly.
  • Following the vehicle ahead too closely.”
  • And others.

In CA, three of the above-mentioned, including an unsafe lane change, tailgating, and hand-held cell phone use while driving, are common minor traffic infractions but are a serious offense at the FMCSA.

Speeding more than 15 mph over the statewide 55 mph speed limit is speeding excessively, a misdemeanor crime according to CA VC 22406.1, Speed Laws.

This information is for clarification purposes only and to show the severity the FMCSA has placed on cell phone use and CDL texting while driving.

You might think that law enforcement officers and inspectors at the Truckee, CA weight station on I-80 cannot see into the cab of your CMV, but the CHP at Truckee report they give out many tickets for seatbelt use, illegal cell phone use, and texting while driving, as they have you on camera as soon as you pull onto the exit ramp to the chicken coop. So, they have the video.

Always consult a CA traffic attorney before choosing to pay the fine or contest the ticket.   

Contact Bigger & Harman to Resolve a CDL Texting While Driving in Truckee Traffic Court 

Call Bigger & Harman, APC, at (661) 349-9300 — use the handy contact form and send us a picture of your citation or by email

We offer a complimentary consultation to CDL holders and always use a flat fee to resolve your traffic tickets. 

Se habla Español (661) 349-9755.

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


The DMV Portal CA Commercial Driver Handbook.

The DOT FMCSA Cell Phone Use Fact Sheet.

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

CA VC Section 12810.5Issuance and Renewal of Licenses & Section 23123.5Driving Offenses.

AB-47Distracted Driving.

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