Impact of Traffic Violations on CDL Holders
The continental United States of America is approximately 3.794 million square miles in size. We are the 4th largest country, as measured by area, in the entire world. We are also home to the largest economy in the world, as measured by our Gross Domestic Product (GDP). The size of our country coupled with the size of our economy means that our success as a nation is directly tied to our transportation industry. Goods and commodities must be transported reliably and inexpensively across the country in order for businesses to grow and prosper. Since our interstate highway system was created, the backbone of our domestic transportation industry has been, and continues to be, trucking.
Throughout the years, numerous laws have been passed to regulate the trucking industry. Some of these laws have resulted from lobbying by business, governmental, and environmental interests, while others have come from public safety advocates. For our purposes today, I will not cover the entire history of laws regulating the trucking industry, but I will give a bit of background for purposes of perspective.
The US Department of Transportation (DOT) was formed by Congress in 1967 and tasked with “Serving the United States by ensuring a fast, safe, efficient, accessible, and convenient transportation system that meets our vital national interests and enhances the quality of life of the American people, today and into the future.” On January 1, 2000, The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMSCA) was established under the umbrella of the DOT and constitutes the body charged specifically with overseeing and improving the safety of the commercial motor vehicle industry.
In 2002, the FMSCA made substantial changes to the rules governing commercial licenses. These rules are still in place today and must be understood by anyone that holds a CDL or anyone that represents clients who hold a CDL. Keep in mind that although a driver’s CDL is issued by a specific state, the driver must still comply with the FMSCA rules in order for his/her license to remain valid.
There are three major groups of offenses that may result in the disqualification of an individual’s Florida CDL for moving-type violations. (Note that a disqualification is defined as the temporary or permanent withdrawal of a person’s privilege to operate a commercial motor vehicle) The groups of listed offenses are Major Offenses, Serious Traffic Offenses, and Railroad-Highway Grade Crossing Offenses. A single violation or combination of violations of these offenses could result in disqualification. Below is an easy to follow list of the offenses and the potential penalties that may result from such a violation.
- Driving Under the Influence
- Refusal to Take Blood Alcohol Test
- Conviction for any other Alcohol-Related Traffic Offense
- Leaving the Scene of an Accident
- Any Felony Involving a Motor Vehicle
- Negligent Homicide while Operating a Commercial Motor Vehicle
- Driving a Commercial Vehicle with a Revoked License
1st violation for a major offense will result in a 1-year disqualification (3-year disqualification for a Haz-Mat certified driver). Subsequent violations will result in lifetime disqualification.
SERIOUS TRAFFIC VIOLATIONS
- Speeding 15 MPH over the Limit
- Reckless Driving
- Improper Lane Change
- Following too Closely
- Driving a Commercial Vehicle without a CDL
- Not Possessing one’s CDL
- Incorrect Class/Endorsement on CDL
- Any Conviction for a Violation when Involved in a Fatal Accident
2 serious violations within 3 years results in a 60-day disqualification. A 3rd (or subsequent) violation within 3 years will result in a 120-day disqualification.
RAILROAD-HIGHWAY GRADE CROSSING VIOLATIONS
This type of offense may vary based on the nature of the CDL, but typically includes behaviors such as failure to slow down/stop to ensure that tracks are clear, failure to obey a traffic control device (crossing arm), or failure to ensure proper undercarriage clearance.
1st violation will result in a 60-day disqualification. 2nd violation within 3 years will result in a 120-day disqualification. 3rd violation within 3 years will result in a 1-year disqualification.
Thanks for reading, next time I will discuss some Florida specific rules that are changing the way in which commercial drivers are forced to deal with traffic citations.