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The U.S. Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) estimates that over 5 million commercial vehicles (semi-trucks, cargo vans, buses, etc.) operate on our nation's highways each year. Commercial Drivers License (CDL) holders face a lot of unique and challenging circumstances out on the roadway. Our law office works directly with company safety departments, CDL employees, legal service plans devoted to commercial drivers, and individual owner-operators. Our clients are primarily located throughout the United States, and some are based in Canada and Mexico. We have been successfully defending commercial transportation clients in the State of California, against both traffic infraction and misdemeanor charges, for well over 12 years now.
You may view a sample of our recent (2017 - Present) CDL client case Success Stories from Barstow Superior, Fontana Superior, and various courthouse locations throughout California, and see what our clients are saying about our legal services on our Google Business Profile.
Contact Us Today for a Free Consultation & Fee Quote. Our office has been collectively practicing law for 35+ years in California and may be reached at (702) 817-4661, or via our Inquiry Form on our Contact Us page.
Common California CDL Violations
There are many ways a CDL holder may be disqualified from operating a commercial motor vehicle (CMV).
The first, and most common, are the accumulation of Negligent Operator Points on a motor vehicle record. "Points" can be acquired as a result of being convicted of a variety of offenses. The following are some of the most common charges under the California Vehicle Code (CVC) that we have handled over the years involving commercial motor vehicles and CDL holders. Many of these violations would result in Negligent Operator Points being assigned by the California DMV if convicted in a California court of law:
Negligent Operator Points and CSA 2010 Severity Points
Negligent Operator Points can result from violations of the California Vehicle Code, as well as violations of city or county ordinances, OR any other code which relates to the safe operation of a motor vehicle. The California DMV does have the authority to either suspend or revoke a California driver’s license, if an individual incurs too many points within a specified period of time. As a result of the Interstate Driver's License Compact, the California DMV will also report convictions of violations incurred by out of state licensees to their home state.
California Vehicle Code (CVC) section 12810.5(a) defines a Class C driver as a Negligent Operator when the following points are accumulated on a driving record:
The exception to this negligent operator criteria might be made for Commercial Class A or B drivers, without a special certificate or endorsement such as Hazardous Materials, allowing for an additional 2 points, if they request and appear for a hearing in front of the California DMV, and their accumulated points did not occur in a vehicle requiring only a Class C license.
California Vehicle Code section 12810.5(b)(1) defines a Class A or B driver meeting all the above criteria as a Negligent Operator when the following points are accumulated on a driving record:
However, per California Vehicle Code section 12810.5(b)(2), a violation which occurs while operating a commercial vehicle in California, carries 1.5 times the normal point count! So, a typical commercial violation, such as CVC section 22406(a) – Speeding in a Commercial Vehicle, would carry 1.5 points should you be convicted; any subsequent violation, such as CVC section 22348(b) – Failure to Use Designated Lane, would result in an additional 1.5 points upon conviction, for a total of 3 points assigned by the California DMV. Minor convictions (such as the foregoing) that occur from violations received while you are driving a commercial motor vehicle or as a holder of a CDL, are retained on your California driving record for a period of three (3) years.
In addition to the above, your CSA 2010 score may suffer as a result of Severity Points being added onto a commercial motor carriers' federal transportation record - see our Blog article on How CDL Violations Impact The CSA 2010 Score.
CDL License Suspension and Revocation
In California, you would also lose your license for "serious traffic" violations for at least 60-days for 2 serious traffic violations within a 3-year period involving a CMV, and for at least 120-days as a result of 3 or more serious traffic violations within a 3-year period involving a CMV. Serious traffic violations are categorized as follows:
1. CVC 22406.1 - Excessive speeding (15 mph or more above the posted limit);
2. Reckless driving, improper or erratic lane changes;
3. Following a vehicle too closely;
4. Traffic offenses committed in a CMV in connection with fatal traffic accidents;
5. Driving a CMV without obtaining a CDL or having a CDL in the driver's possession; and
6. Driving a CMV without the proper class of CDL and/or endorsements.
In California, you would lose your CDL for at least 1 year for a first offense of any of the following:
1. Driving a CMV if your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is .04 percent or higher - in a private vehicle (PV) you would be allowed a BAC of .08 percent prior to being a candidate for any type of automatic DMV driving suspension;
2. Driving a CMV while under the influence of alcohol;
3. Refusing to undergo blood alcohol testing after being stopped while operating a PV or CMV;
4. Driving a CMV while under the influence of a controlled substance;
5. Leaving the scene of an accident involving a CMV;
6. Committing a felony involving the use of a CMV;
7. Driving a CMV on a suspended/revoked CDL; and
8. Causing a fatality through negligent operation of a CMV.
CDL Employment and Insurance Considerations
In addition to any negative implications from an employer, insurance company, or the Department of Transportation (acting under the CSA 2010 regulations), when applying for a job as a commercial driver, the California DMV requires that you must give your prospective employer a 10-year employment history of commercial driving. As previously mentioned, minor convictions that occur as a result of operating a commercial motor vehicle or as a holder of a CDL, are retained on your California driving record for a period of three (3) years.
Potential Court Case Outcomes
The ultimate results of each CDL traffic case in the California Court system - Infraction or Misdemeanor - are dependent upon a variety of factors, such as a driver's motor vehicle record, the nature of the charges, the location of the violation, circumstances on the roadway that particular day, the experience level of the citing officer(s), court location, the judicial officer assigned, plea bargaining strategies, any witness statements, the type of evidence and testimony presented at a Court or Jury trial, cross-examination questions posed by a defense attorney, and the relationship with the citing officer(s) out on the highway. There are a number of negative consequences which may be faced if you simply post your bail - and do not contest or fight the charges in Court. These can include...
As a result of the foregoing, CDL holders should always consider contacting an attorney anytime a traffic citation is issued to them in the State of California.
Since everyone's case is unique to that individual and the specific circumstances, you should consult with a competent CDL attorney to determine your best course of action. Our office has expertise in this area of the law, and we encourage you to reach out for a FREE consultation.
"The ultimate results of a CDL traffic case in the California Court system - Infraction or Misdemeanor - are dependent upon a variety of factors including the nature of the charges..., experience level of the citing officer..., the judicial officer assigned..., plea bargaining strategies..., the type of evidence and testimony presented..."
Law Offices | Felicia Yates & Associates
P.O. Box 454, Needles, CA 92363, San Bernardino County, California
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