If your job requires you to drive a school bus, an eighteen-wheeler, hazardous material transport, or any vehicle or combination of vehicles that total 26,001 pounds or more, you are required to have a commercial driver’s license (CDL). CDLs are required for many jobs, so suspension of a CDL — whether temporary or permanent — can have a huge impact on your ability to earn a living.

Drivers of commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) are subject to the same traffic laws as regular drivers, but due to the nature of their work, the size of their vehicles, and the potential presence of hazardous materials, CMV drivers may face more serious consequences for their actions, and those complications can include their CDL being suspended. Suspension of a CDL is known as “disqualification.” Disqualifications apply for a minimum of sixty days, but serious offenses can result in one to three years of suspension or a lifetime disqualification if charges are serious enough.

CDL offenses come in three broad categories:

  1. Major offenses — These include major traffic violations such as DUIs, refusal to submit to chemical testing like a breathalyzer exam, or leaving the scene of an accident. Similarly, using your CMV to commit a felony, especially one that involves controlled substances or results in someone’s death, is considered a major offense that can result in a lifetime CDL ban. A single conviction for a major offense is enough to suspend your license for one to three years.
  2. Serious traffic offenses — Serious traffic offenses (STOs) include speeding by 15 mph or more, driving recklessly, or driving a CMV without a CDL. Other violations, like using your phone while driving, endangering construction or maintenance workers, or otherwise violating relevant local traffic laws are all considered serious traffic offenses for CDL drivers. While no single STO is enough to disqualify your CDL, accumulating a history of STOs can result in suspension or revocation of your license.
  3. Railroad-highway grade crossing offenses — Due to the size and nature of CMVs, CDL drivers must pay special attention to railroad and highway crossings. A collision with a train or another CMV could be catastrophic for passengers and passersby, so failure to stop when required, slow down, and check for clear passage are considered CDL offenses. Like STOs, no single railroad-highway grade crossing offense will leave you without your CDL, but accumulating these offenses can lead to suspensions or a lifetime ban.

If you believe you are innocent of violations that threaten your CDL status, you need an attorney who handles hundreds of traffic violation cases each year like Matthew R. Zatko. To schedule a free consultation at my Somerset office, call today at 814-443-1631 or contact me online.