19 Jun 20 Things You Need to Know about a Truck Driver Ticket
20 Things You Need to Know about a Truck Driver Ticket
If you are a truck driver, your commercial driver’s license (CDL) is your livelihood, and a truck driver ticket can pose a serious threat to your driving privileges, affecting your employment as discussed at ny-defense.com. Here are some of the things you need to know about a truck driver ticket.
Lower threshold for serious violations
The penalties for a ticket are more severe when you are driving a vehicle with a CDL according to ny-defense.com. What might normally be considered a “moderate” offense with a standard driver’s license will be treated more sternly in the context of a CDL.
You may lose your CDL
You may lose your license either on a temporary or permanent basis depending on the type and degree of the violation. Commercial drivers depend on keeping their CDL to keep their job and earn a living, which makes this a serious threat.
Characterization of violations
Truck driver violations are characterized as either:
Serious traffic violations (resulting in cumulative disqualifications)
Major traffic violations (resulting in immediate disqualifications)
Serious traffic violations
In New York, 8 traffic violations are considered serious, and the penalties depend on how many times you have broken the law as covered at ny-defense.com. They include:
Speeding 15 + mph over the posted limit
Erratic/improper lane changes
Reckless driving, as defined by New York Law (that is, disregard for the safety of others and/or property)
Driving a commercial motor vehicle (CMV) without a CDL
Driving a CMV without a CDL currently in your possession
Driving a CMV without the appropriate class of CDL
Violating a New York traffic law in connection with a fatal accident
Penalties for a serious violation
Truck drivers risk losing their license for 60 days if they are convicted of two serious traffic violations within 3 years while operating a commercial vehicle. If a truck driver is convicted of 3 serious traffic violations within 3 years, the suspension will be increased to 120 days.
Will a first-time serious violation lead to suspension?
No. A first-time serious traffic violation does not result in disqualification. A second offense within 3 years, however, as already mentioned and captured at ny-defense.com, will result in a 60-day disqualification, and a third offense in years will result in a 120-day disqualification.
The convictions must be the result of two separate incidents
It is important to note that the convictions discussed in the previous point must be the result of two (or three) separate incidents for the suspension to kick in. If the two violations happen at the same time, then the 60-day (or 120-day) suspension will not be applied.
Major traffic violations
In New York, as articulated at ny-defense.com, there are 6 types of major violations for commercial drivers, and they include:
Driving under the influence of alcohol or a controlled substance
Refusing to take a chemical test like an alcohol test
Prematurely leaving the scene of an accident
Using the vehicle to commit a felony (including manufacturing, distributing, or dispensing a controlled substance)
Driving under a revoked/suspended/canceled CDL, or during a disqualification period
Negligent operation of a CMV that causes a fatality
Penalties for major traffic violations
Unlike serious traffic violations, there is no respite for a first-time major violation, as a first-time offense results in an automatic 1-year disqualification. If you were transporting hazardous materials, it will be even worse for you as you will face a 3-year disqualification instead. A second major traffic violation results in a lifetime disqualification.
Will I ever be eligible for reinstatement in case of a lifetime disqualification?
It depends on what your conviction was about. After 10 years, you may be eligible for reinstatement after receiving a lifetime disqualification, unless you used your vehicle to illegally manufacture, distribute, or dispense a controlled substance.
Railroad-highway grade crossing offenses
If you are operating a CMV and you violate railroad-highway grade crossing laws, then you can have your CDL disqualified as well. From discussions on the same at ny-defense.com, disqualifications include 60-days for the first violations, 120 days for the second violation, and 1 year for the third violation.
What do railroad-highway grade violations include?
These violations include failing to:
Slow down and check for an approaching train
Stop if required by the specific crossing
Stop if the tracks are not clear
Stop if you don’t have enough space to drive completely through the crossing
Have sufficient undercarriage clearance allowing you to cross the tracks
Obey a traffic control device or a law enforcement official’s directions
As is the case for many states, in the state of New York, an overweight violation is issued to the driver of a truck who is operating a vehicle that weighs more than legally permitted. As per ny-defense.com, a truck may not weigh more than 80,000 pounds when fully loaded. How much a specific truck is permitted to weigh depends on axle spacing.
The legal weight for trucks with pneumatic tires
The legal weight for trucks with pneumatic tires is as follows:
Per inch of tire width – 800 pounds
Any one wheel – 11,200 pounds
Any one axle – 22,400 pounds
Any two axles – 36,000 pounds
3 or more axles – 80,000 pounds
What about trucks with solid rubber tires?
Trucks that are equipped with solid rubber tires are permitted to weigh up to 80% of the legal weight permitted for trucks with pneumatic tires. Drivers are expected to weigh their vehicles at specific points during their routes and can be stopped and ticketed for not doing so. It is possible to fight an overweight violation in court.
Truck driver ticket convictions
Truck drivers need to be particularly careful when they have been charged with a driving-related violation or misdemeanor because:
Convictions are more severe
Convictions for truck drivers can carry more severe penalties than the same violations for non-commercial drivers according to ny-defense.com. This is because commercial drivers are considered to have an extra responsibility for traffic safety. It is, therefore, easier for a commercial driver to lose CDL privileges than a non-commercial personal license holder.
Lack of safety nets
Commercial drivers also don’t have the same safety net that non-commercial drivers do in the event their privileges are suspended. If a non-commercial driver loses his/her privilege to drive, he/she is eligible for a restricted-use license to get to and from work. When a commercial driver loses his/her privilege to drive, he/she will not be eligible for a restricted-use license to drive a commercial vehicle.
You don’t have to have your license suspended to suffer adverse consequences
Even traffic tickets that do not result in a loss of the privilege to drive a CMV can be extremely harmful. Many commercial drivers are covered by an employer insurance policy, and you may end up getting fired as your employer may claim that you have become too expensive to insure as a result of your conviction as highlighted at ny-defense.com.
Personal driving can impact your CDL
Although the general rule is that traffic offenses committed while driving one’s personal vehicles do not affect a CDL, there are a few notable exceptions to that rule. Convictions for leaving the scene of an accident, violations related to alcohol and drugs, and felonies involving a motor vehicle will result in a one-year suspension of a CDL for a first-time offense and a lifetime CDL ban for a second offense. This is in addition to the consequences on one’s personal driver’s license.
Your employer needs to know about your ticket
If you receive a ticket with a CDL, your employer must legally be informed about the situation within thirty days if you are convicted or plead guilty. This can lead to you losing your job as most private employers can legally fire a driver over a traffic infraction.
If you are handed a truck diver ticket, you should fight it given the consequences that come with pleading guilty. Your chances of getting a positive outcome when fighting your ticket will be greatly enhanced by hiring an experienced and skilled CDL lawyer like ny-defense.com, who is always ready and willing to help.