Commercial drivers are often placed under intense scrutiny. An offense that would earn a conventional motorist a hefty fine or community service can result in a lifetime revocation for a commercial driver license (CDL). Most revocations are not permanent, however, a one-year or 60-day revocation may be sufficient to put commercial drivers out of a job. If you wish to retain your CDL and remain employed, avoid all of the following actions.

1. Operate the commercial vehicle while intoxicated or under the influence of drugs. Drunk driving is illegal for all motorists, but for commercial drivers, it can result in more serious consequences, as any attorney from Pennsylvania dui lawyers to dwi lawyers in California will tell you. If a CDL-holder operates a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs or if they have a blood-alcohol content of .04 or higher, the driver license will be suspended for a certain period.

If it was the first offense and the driver was transporting non-hazardous materials, the driver will be disqualified for one year. Hauling hazardous materials while intoxicated will earn a three-year suspension for a first offense. A second offense will result in a lifetime disqualification, although reinstatement may be possible after 10 years. Refusing to provide a breath or alcohol sample carries the same penalties.

2. Use the commercial vehicle in connection with a drug-related felony. If you want to lose your commercial driver license, there are few surer ways to do so than distributing or manufacturing narcotics. If the vehicle is used in such an operation, the driver will be permanently disqualified from holding a CDL.

3. Use the commercial vehicle in connection with another felony. This will result in penalties similar to driving while intoxicated; first-time offenders face a one-year or three-year disqualification while repeat offenders get a lifetime disqualification.

4. Flee the scene of an accident. Fleeing the scene of an accident is treated in the same manner as inebriated driving and using the commercial vehicle in connection with a felony.

5. Kill someone. Commercial vehicles tend to be much larger and heavier than passenger vehicles; a mistake that might lead to a fender bender and bruised feelings in a passenger vehicle may lead to a fatality in a commercial vehicle. A CDL-holder who kills someone negligently while driving a commercial vehicle can count on a revocation in addition to a lawsuit and possible criminal charges. A CDL revocation does not require proof of criminal negligence.

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6. Repeatedly commit a serious traffic violation. Serious traffic violations while driving a motor vehicle include tailgating, speeding in excess of 15 miles per hour over the limit, reckless driving, and driving without a proper CDL. A first offense will not disqualify you from holding a CDL, but a second offense within three years will result in a 60-day disqualification.

This is not an exhaustive list. Drivers who violate out-of-service orders or travel through railway crossings without checking to see if it is safe also face suspension. Minor traffic offenses and equipment violations like a failure to secure the load may result in points added to your CDL. States may create other laws more strict than the federal standards. For example, California will suspend a CDL for repeated violations of its hands-free phone law. Fortunately, having a CDL revoked does not necessarily result in a revocation of a standard driver license or motorcycle license. Unfortunately, hardship waivers that are traditionally available for motorists with suspended licenses are unavailable to CDL-holders.

A suspended license can be a kiss of death for a commercial driver not only due to the time lost, but also because of his or her driving record. Companies rarely hire drivers with less-than-perfect driving records out of liability concerns. If you are accused of committing traffic violations or a serious offense while operating a commercial vehicle, find a lawyer experienced in handling cases in that jurisdiction. Fighting the charges may be the only way to avoid ruining one’s career. 

Author Georgina Clatworthy formerly worked for a national distribution company dealing with truck maintenance and driver records. The Law Offices of Steven E. Kellis, P.A. is a firm of Pennsylvania dui lawyers whose main focus is to help clients charged with driving under the influence. Because the firm specializes in handling all types of DUI cases they know how to build the best defense to achieve either reduced or complete dismissal of the charges against you.


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