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

undefinedCommercial drivers must maintain a much larger gap between their vehicle and the vehicle directly ahead of them or risk a following too closely ticket. 

The distance will vary depending on speed, road conditions, weather, and traffic volume. 

Courts assess whether the distance was “reasonable and prudent” based on the prevailing conditions. If you receive a citation for tailgating and choose to contest it in court, the court will assess whether your following distance was, in fact, reasonable and prudent.

What Does the CA Vehicle Code Say About Following Too Closely?

CA Vehicle Code (VC) Section 21703Driving, Overtaking, and Passing, warns all CA drivers:

“The driver of a motor vehicle shall not follow another vehicle more closely than is reasonable and prudent, having due regard for the speed of such vehicle and the traffic upon, and the condition of, the roadway.”

The key phrase in this section of traffic code is “reasonable and prudent.” Although the law enforcement officer (LEO) who issued the ticket might have a set distance in mind, what is actually prudent for a tractor-trailer will vary from that of a bus or smaller vehicle and could become smaller as road and weather conditions deteriorate.

However, what is a reasonable distance is up to the traffic court judge when ticketed outside Roseville in Placer County, CA, on I-80 that leads to Sacramento. 

How Much Is the Fine if Convicted?

Following too closely in CA is a minor infraction. The fine for all drivers is about $238. However, the commercial driver who pays the fine for following too closely will be assessed 1.5 negligent operator treatment system (NOTS) points on their CA motor vehicle driving record (MVR), and then, the DMV will notify the DOT FMCSA of the conviction.

The FMCSA will assess five Compliance, Safety, and Accountability (CSA) severity points for this “serious offense.” Moreover, the conviction record will go on the commercial driver’s Pre-employment Screening Program (PSP) record, where it will remain for three years.

When a driver has a second conviction of a serious offense within three years of the first, the FMCSA will initiate a 60-day driver disqualification. The driver cannot operate a commercial motor vehicle (CMV) for 60 days.

This not only seriously affects their ability to earn a living, but it could threaten the driver’s career if the fleet manager terminates their driving position, as any new fleet that considers hiring them must examine their PSP.

Most high-paying fleets won’t consider a driver even after they’ve served their disqualification, and small fleets will likely only pay around 25 cents per mile with few or no benefits.  

A commercial driver’s license (CDL) holder’s best option is to dispute the charge in court with the help of a CA traffic attorney.

Consult Bigger & Harman About Challenging Your Following Too Closely Ticket in Court

When ticketed for following too closely, that must be resolved in Roseville Courthouse, contact Bigger & Harman for an initial consultation at (661) 349-9300 or email

Alternatively, you can use the convenient online contact form

Download our e-book, Protecting Your Commercial Driver License

Se habla Español (661) 349-9755.


The DMV Portal CA Commercial Driver Handbook.

The article, “Your CSA Score Chart: Your Free Guide to the 7 Behaviors, CSA Scores, and the Points.”

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