If you drive a vehicle for a living, then a minor traffic offense can potentially be a big deal because it can result in some serious consequences for your Commercial Driver’s License (CDL). Below is a summary of issues facing those folks with a CDL who have been given a ticket for a traffic offense. If you are a commercial driver and have received a ticket, call us today to discuss your rights and legal options.
Many people who are charged with a crime, including traffic offenses, can qualify for a number of “deferred prosecution” programs, such as Pre-Trial Intervention or Drug Court. See our page on those programs for more information. These programs allow a person to admit guilt, yet still have the case dismissed after completion of a few classes and programs. For CDL holders, deferred prosecution programs are not available.
According to Alabama Uniform Commercial Driver’s License Act (§32-6-49.1, et. seq.), those persons holding a CDL are not eligible to have their criminal cases resolved through any deferred prosecution or diversion program, including Pre-Trial Intervention or Drug Court.
Further, even if the case against a CDL holder is “dismissed upon payment of court costs”, federal regulations still consider that a conviction for purposes of license suspension or disqualification under 49 CFR 383.5.
Major Disqualifying Offenses
First convictions of certain major offenses listed in Code of Alabama 32-6-49.11 will result in the suspension of a CDL for a period of at least one (1) year. A second conviction for any major offense will result in a lifetime suspension of a CDL. Those offenses are:
- Driving Under the Influence – Applies to a DUI in a commercial or non-commercial vehicle
- Driving a commercial vehicle with a BAC of .04 or above (The threshold is .02 if the commercial vehicle is a school bus)
- Refusal to take an alcohol breath test
- Leaving the scene of an accident – Applies to commercial and non-commercial vehicles
- Any felony involving a motor vehicle – If the felony involves the manufacturing or distribution of controlled substances, then a conviction will result in a lifetime disqualification according to 32-6-49.11(d)
- Negligently causing the death of another person while driving a commercial vehicle
- Driving a commercial vehicle on a revoked, cancelled or suspended CDL
Convictions of other traffic violations can lead to the suspension of a CDL, if there are enough convictions within a certain timeframe. If a CDL holder has 2 convictions for any serious traffic violation within 3 years, then the CDL will be suspended for 60 days. If there are 3 convictions within 3 years, the suspension is 120 days according to Code of Alabama §32-6-49.11(e). Unlike the major disqualifying offenses above, the serious violations must occur while the person is operating a commercial vehicle to count toward the CDL suspension.
- Excessive speeding – 15 or more mph over limit
- Reckless driving
- Any violation of state or local law related to motor vehicle traffic control, other than a parking violation, arising in connection with a fatal accident.
- Any violation of Title 32, Chapter 5A, Article 9 (traffic laws regarding trucks, trailers and semi-trailers), or any state or local law relating to motor vehicle traffic control, other than a parking violation, which the Director of Department of Public Safety deems to be serious.
Specific CDL Violations
You may also face a suspension of your CDL if you commit any of the following specific offenses that only apply to drivers with CDLs. The length of the suspension will depend on your driving record and similar past offenses committed within 2 years.
- Railroad Crossing Violation
- Out of service Violation
- Weight Violation
- Grade Violation
Not only will major disqualifying and serious traffic offenses affect your CDL license, but there are a number of specific trucking offenses that will result in points being placed on your license. An accumulation of 12 points in a 2 year period will start to trigger the suspension of your CDL. Those offenses and points include the following:
2 Point Offenses
- Improper Placard
- Improper Brake Equipment
- Improperly Flagged Load
- Improper Tires
- Hours of Service Violation
3 Point Offenses
- Following Too Closely
- Disregarding Traffic Signal
4 Point Offenses
- Driving on the Wrong Side of Road
- Illegal Passing
5 Point Offenses
- Failure to Yield Right of Way
- Passing a Stopped School Bus
6 Point Offenses
- Reckless Driving
For any suspension of a CDL, lasting more than one (1) year, the driver must be retested in order to receive his or her CDL again. Any suspension lasting one (1) year or less will result in the automatic reinstatement of the CDL without any further testing. CDL drivers have the same rights to contest their license suspension through the appropriate administrative procedures, a summary of which can be found on our site regarding License Suspension.
If you are facing a suspension of your CDL, do not wait to contact a lawyer. You will need quick and competent representation to help you avoid consequences that could hurt your livelihood. Contact us today.