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undefinedCommercial vehicle speeding tickets are very common on the Grapevine, the section of road through the Fort Tejon Pass between the San Joaquin Valley in Kern County and LA County, CA. 

The reason for the high number of speeding tickets is the reduced speed limits due to the steep grade on the Fort Tejon Pass. 

The Grapevine is a busy stretch for commercial vehicles but has a 6% grade. Northbound lanes out of LA County have a 35 mph, strictly enforced speed zone for commercial vehicles and 40 mph for the southbound lane from Kern County. 

Why Not Go to Traffic Violator School?

If you’re not a commercial driver, you’re probably thinking “Why don’t they just go to the Lamont or Chatsworth court clerk, pay the fine, and attend traffic violator’s school (TVS) for their commercial vehicle speeding ticket and be done with it?”

First of all, if you’re ticketed in a commercial motor vehicle (CMV), you’re not eligible for TVS; second, you must plead guilty to a moving violation. 

That could lead to job termination if you are a fleet driver and the fleet manager fears for their job because the fleet insurance premium is already high, or their Safety Measurement System (SMS) percentile is marginal.

According to the SMS, a percentile of 74 to 100 will lead to DOT FMCSA interventions, such as all vehicles using that DOT number will get pulled into weight stations for roadside inspections, and fleet HQ is subject to policy and procedure inspections that could lead to civil fines and sanctions. 

A failed inspection could lead to the driver getting an Out-of-Service (OOS) Order and the carrier receiving a cease-and-desist order from the DOT, which will likely put them out of business.     

Are the CHP Targeting Trucks with Commercial Vehicle Speeding Tickets? 

In an article by Land Line Media“Troopers tally 500 tickets on California’s I-5 Grapevine,” Chuck Robinson reported:

“The California Highway Patrol recently issued 500 citations to commercial vehicles on the Grapevine at the end of March. There was a Facebook post letting the world know that yes, indeed, they did it. To someone on the sidelines, it seems unsporting, but for a commercial driver having to negotiate the steep grade and traffic of that stretch of I-5, the enforcement blitz illustrates so many things that are wrong. Among them, California’s insane split speed differential for cars and big trucks, the stupid and dangerous lane restrictions for tractor-trailers, and the gotcha mentality of speed traps like this one.”    

Although this article seemed biased against the CHP, who were hopefully only doing their jobs, the reporter makes three valid points that we will expound on in this blog post.

  1. The CA speed limit differential makes issuing commercial vehicle speeding tickets much easier.
  2. Paragraph (c) of CA Vehicle Code (VC) Section 22348, Speed Laws, restricts commercial vehicles subject to VC Section 22406 to CA freeways' first or second lane.
  3. The law enforcement “gotcha mentality” that allows law enforcement to target commercial vehicles.  

#1 — Does the Statewide Speed Limit Differential Unnecessarily Target Commercial Drivers?

CA VC Section 22406Speed Laws, restricts commercial vehicles to a statewide 55 mph speed limit, regardless of weather and road conditions. It states:

“No person may drive any of the following vehicles on a highway at a speed in excess of 55 miles per hour:

(a) A motortruck or truck tractor having three or more axles or any motortruck or truck tractor drawing any other vehicle.

(b) A passenger vehicle or bus drawing any other vehicle.

(c) A school bus transporting any school pupil.

(d) A farm labor vehicle when transporting passengers.

(e) A vehicle transporting explosives.

(f) A trailer bus, as defined in Section 636.”

Therefore, despite clear skies and open roads, any commercial vehicle caught exceeding 55 mph is subject to a moving violation that could threaten their career and livelihood. 

#2 — Is It Necessary on All CA Highways to Restrict Commercial Vehicles to Certain Lanes     

CA VC Section 22348 (c), Speed Laws, authorizes a restriction of the commercial vehicles identified above to the first two lanes on the right:

“A vehicle subject to Section 22406 shall be driven in a lane designated…, or if a lane has not been so designated, in the right-hand lane for traffic or as close as practicable to the right-hand edge or curb. When overtaking and passing another vehicle proceeding in the same direction, the driver shall use either the designated lane, the lane to the immediate left of the right-hand lane, or the right-hand lane for traffic as permitted under this code…” 

Therefore, a commercial driver whose vehicle is subject to 22406, may not use the third or further left lanes on multilane highways in CA, regardless of traffic and visibility, without facing a lane violation ticket.

This also makes it difficult for any driver to see the reduced speed warning signs and since most vehicle enter and exit from the right side, trucks driving in the right lane bumper to bumper can hold up all traffic. But the most critical issue with this is that one of the emergency ramps for runaway trucks is on the left side of the freeway, so a truck with no brakes must maneuver across lanes to get to the ramp.

#3 — Does CA Law Enforcement Have a “Gotcha Mentality” for Commercial Drivers?

We hear from I-5 commercial vehicle speeding ticket holders about how the CHP stopped them for going nine to eleven mph over the speed limit while four-wheel motorists fly by doing 80 to 90 mph without being stopped.

We feel that law enforcement has the mentality that commercial vehicles are easy targets for speeding tickets.

Given the increased fines and negligent operator treatment system (NOTS) points allowed by the State of CA, it seems true. A commercial vehicle speeding ticket fetches $486 or more at just 10 MPH over, whereas their noncommercial driving peers are normally fined $237 and are assessed 50% less NOTS points for the same offense. How is that fair?

What’s more, a commercial driver speeding 15 mph over the statewide 55 mph speed limit or is a misdemeanor offense. The only misdemeanor offense for speeding in CA. Imagine being subject to jail time or probation and a $1,000 or more fine for doing your job and going the same speed as a recreational driver out for a Sunday drive. 

That’s correct. A noncommercial driver is allowed to go 70 mph on many CA highways, but for a commercial driver, it is a jailable offense if convicted. 

The Truth About Commercial Vehicle Speeding Tickets on the Grapevine

The CHP replied in their defense:

“One of the priorities of the CHP Fort Tejon Area is to ensure the safe travel of the motoring public through the Grapevine. A major concern has been the increasing number of commercial vehicles and passenger vehicles towing trailers that are traveling at unsafe speeds and within the wrong lanes.” — CHP - Fort Tejon - Grapevine Facebook.

What’s more, the CA Department of Transportation (Caltrans) roads and traffic authority conducts surveys of these roadways with a nearly 6% grade, determines the safe stopping distance, and proposes a safe speed limit.

There are no misdemeanor commercial vehicle speeding tickets for going 55 in a reduced speed zone of 40 or less, though it could still be seen as a “serious offense” at the FMCSA. A second conviction will result in a 60-day driver disqualification.

Regardless of your situation, commercial drivers must consult a traffic attorney who represents commercial drivers in LA County and Lamont Courthouse.

REMINDER: “A CDL holder must notify their employer(s) within 30 days of conviction for any State or local law pertaining to motor vehicle traffic control (other than a parking violation). The notification must be in writing and include all information outlined in 49 CFR 383.31(c).”

Consult Bigger & Harman, APC, When Facing a Commercial Vehicle Speeding Ticket

Typically, drivers with commercial vehicle speeding tickets from the north end of the Grapevine must resolve their tickets in Lamont Courthouse in Kern County, while commercial drivers with tickets on the southern end must appear in Chatsworth Courthouse in LA County.

Call us at (661) 349-9300. Likewise, you can use the convenient contact form or email

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

Se habla Español (661) 349-9755.


The DMV Portal CA Commercial Driver Handbook.

The Land Line media article, Troopers tally 500 tickets on California’s I-5 Grapevine.”

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

CVC Section 22406Speed Laws.

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