Commercial Driver’s License

Maintaining a Commercial Driver’s License

Motorists maintaining a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) must be especially cautious when handling any citation issued against his or her Commercial Driver’s License. You will make an unnecessary mistake if you simply mail in payment for your citation. Anyone receiving a traffic citation written against his or her CDL, who does not have time to keep current with the law, and attempts to handle their case on their own, not only risks spending a great deal of time in Court, but also places their CDL, and livelihood, at risk.

The penalties for certain traffic citations issued against a Commercial Driver’s License, when operating a commercial motor vehicle (CMV, defined as any vehicle used in commerce with a gross weight rating of 26,001 pounds or more (49 CFR 383.5 / 42-4-402(4)(a)(1); 402(6)), or, in some instances, when operating a non-CMV while holding a CDL, are particularly strict, and may have adverse consequences for the CDL holder. The penalties are established by Federal Regulations, specific Illinois Statutes as well as the Illinois Administrative Code.

Motorists holding a CDL must be aware that the Illinois Secretary of State considers a sentence of Court Supervision as a conviction with respect to certain traffic citations issued against a Commercial Driver’s License. With respect to Commercial Driver’s Licenses, the law in Illinois defines a “conviction” as:

…an unvacated adjudication of guilt or a determination that a person has violated or failed to comply with the law in a court of original jurisdiction or an authorized administrative tribunal; an unvacated forfeiture of bail or collateral deposited to secure the person’s appearance in court; the payment of a fine or court cost regardless of whether the imposition of sentence is deferred and ultimately a judgment dismissing the underlying charge is entered; or a violation of a condition of release without bail, regardless of whether or not the penalty is rebated, suspended or probated. (625 ILCS 5/6-500, Emphasis Added).

Similarly, Federal regulations define a conviction as “An unvacated adjudication of guilt; finding by a court or an authorized administrative body of a violation; forfeiture of bail; plea of guilty or nolo contendere; payment of fine or court cost; or violation of a condition of release without bail. 49 CFR 383.5

You are risking your CDL and livelihood if you attempt to handle, on your own, citations issued against your CDL.

We can help you. We understand which traffic offenses, and whether or not a proposed plea agreement, may adversely affect your CDL. We will appear with you in Court and discuss your case with the prosecutor. We will protect your rights. We will protect your CDL.


Six Ways to Be Disqualified from Holding a CDL

1. Major Disqualifying Offenses

Major disqualifying offenses result in a 1-year loss for driving a regular CMV, and a 3-year loss when driving a HAZMAT vehicle. Second offenses result in a lifetime CDL ban.

a. DUI or refusal to submit to breath-alcohol testing in either a commercial motor vehicle (CMV) or non-commercial motor vehicle (NCMV) 49 CFR 383.51(b)(1)

b. A second DUI in a lifetime. No CDL for life. The offense does not have to be the same disqualifying offense. A DUI in a personal vehicle, prior to September 2005, does not count toward the 2 offenses resulting in a lifetime disqualification. 49 CFR 383.51(b)

c. Driving a CMV with a BAC of .04. 49 CFR 383.51

d. Leaving the scene of an accident in any vehicle. 49 CFR 383.51(b)(5)

e. Any felony involving a motor vehicle. 49 CFR 383.51(b)(6)

f. If the felony involves the manufacture, distribution or dispensing of controlled substances, no CDL for life on the first conviction. (Mobile Meth Labs) 49 CFR 383.51(b)(9)

g. Conviction for negligently causing the death of another person while driving a CMV. 49 CFR 383.51(b)(8)

h. Driving a CMV with a revoked or cancelled CDL, or while otherwise disqualified from driving a CMV. 49 CFR 383.51(b)(7)

2. Serious Traffic Violations

Serious traffic violations may occur in any vehicle. But if you are driving a non-CMV, this action is taken only if the triggering conviction also results in a restraint of regular driving privileges. (i.e., a points suspension). 49 CFR 383.51(c)

A 2nd conviction for violations occurring within 3 years requires a 60-day disqualification of CDL if and only if the conviction triggers the loss of regular driving privileges.

A 3rd or subsequent conviction for violations occurring within 3 years requires a 120-day disqualification of the CDL if the conviction triggers the loss of regular driving privileges.

Length of disqualification for serious traffic violations in a CMV. No affect on regular driving privilege is required. 49 CFR 383.51(c)

Note: Under Federal law, judges are not allowed to “mask” convictions. 49 CFR 384.226

Serious Traffic Violations

a. 15 MPH Over the Posted Speed Limit. 49 CFR 383.51(c)(1)

b. Reckless Driving. 49 CFR 353.51(c)(2) NOTE: Careless is not a serious violation due to vagueness.

c. Improper or Erratic Lane Changes. 49 CFR 383.51(c)(3)

d. Following Too Closely. 49 CFR 383.51(c)(4)

e. Driving a CMV Without Having Obtained a CDL. 49 CFR 383.51(c)(6)

f. No CDL in Possession. 49 CFR 383.51 (c)(7)

g. Having a CDL With Incorrect Class or Endorsement.

h. Being convicted of any motor vehicle violation  (non-parking), no matter how minor (e.g., burned out light bulb), when involved in a fatal accident. 49 CFR 383.51 (c)(5)

3. Railroad Grade Crossing Violations

49 CFR 383.51(d)

Railroad grade crossing violations apply only if you are driving a CMV. A railroad grade crossing violation will result in a 60-day disqualification for 1st conviction, and a 120-day disqualification for a 2nd conviction within 3 years. A railroad grade crossing violation will result in a 1 year disqualification for 3 or more convictions within 3 years.

4. Violations of Out-of-Service Orders

Applies when the driver, vehicle (49 CFR 396.7(c)(1)), or motor carrier is out-of-service. No conviction is required. The driver must be driving a CMV. The driver is placed out of service for 24 hours. 49 CFR 383.51(c)

a. Driver consumed alcohol within the preceding 4 hours. 49 CFR 392.5(a)(1)

b. Any detectable alcohol in system. 49 CFR 392.5(a)(2)

c. Driver “on duty” has personal possession of alcohol. “On duty” constitutes more than just driving. 49 CFR 392.5(a)(3)

d. Driver on duty refuses chemical test. This does not require Probable Cause to test. (e.g., Every driver at a weigh station could be asked to submit to a test).

e. Out of service for time violations. 49 CFR 395.3; 395.5; 395.13. The time is extended for adverse weather conditions. 49 CFR 395(1)(b)

Federal Sanctions

A 1st conviction will result in a 90-day to 1 year disqualification if driving a non-HAZMAT vehicle, and a 180-day to 2-year disqualification if driving a HAZMAT vehicle, plus fines ranging from $1,100 to $2,750. 49 CFR 383.51(c)(1)

A 2nd conviction will result in a 1 to 5 year disqualification if driving a non-HAZMAT vehicle, and a 3 to 5 year disqualification if driving a HAZMAT vehicle.

A 3rd or more conviction in 10 years will result in 3 to 5 year CDL disqualification regardless of what type of CMV you are driving.

5. Cancel / Deny Based on False Statement 49 CFR 383.73(g)

The only issues at the Hearing are:

a. Whether the driver falsified information;

b. Whether the driver was under restraint at the time of the application for the CDL.

If either issue is found, no CDL for 60 days. Any driving restraint whatsoever means no CDL.

6. Driver an Imminent Hazard: (By Federal Authorities)

42 CFR 383.5; 383.52; 386.72(b)(1); 392.3

Get the representation  you deserve with Attorney David Franks

Contact Franks & Rechenberg, P.C. today

(847) 854-7700