CDL Tickets and Disqualification
For most people, traffic tickets represent little more than a nuisance. Pay your fine, attend Defensive Driving School, and the situation quickly fades away. Someone with a commercial driver’s license (CDL), though, often faces much harsher consequences for these same moving violations, including possible CDL disqualification.
It is important to note that drivers may only carry a CDL from one state. If you have multiple state-issued CDLs, you face up to $5,000 in fines and possible jail time. Arizona courts may also choose to confiscate your Arizona CDL and return other CDL licenses to the states issuing them.
Violations Specific to CDL Operators
Certain violations only pertain to CDL operators.
- Outdated logbooks: The driver’s logbook must be up-to-date. Failure to update hours, or falsifying them, carries federal penalties, including possible jail time.
- Oversize loads: Commercial vehicle permits carry load specifications. Carrying an oversized load without the appropriate permit may result in a citation.
- Road grade permissions: Certain vehicles face restrictions due to road grade (how steep the road is). Penalties include a 60-day suspension for the first offense.
- Speeding: If you exceed the speed limit by 15 mph or more while towing a trailer, you face CDL suspension.
Since so many CDL drivers travel across state lines, most CDL-specific violations are federally mandated.
Consequences for Traffic Violations when Operating Your Personal Vehicle
CDL operators face disqualification or suspension for conviction of certain moving violations, even when said violations occur while driving a personal vehicle.
- If your license to operate your personal vehicle is suspended or revoked due to a serious speeding violation, you lose your CDL for a minimum of 60 days and a maximum of 120 days.
- If your license to operate your personal vehicle is suspended or revoked due to an alcohol violation, you lose your CDL for 12 months. A second alcohol-related conviction results in permanent disqualification.
- You may not receive a hardship license if you lost your license to operate a personal vehicle.
CDL operators have 30 days to notify their employers of any traffic violation (except parking violations).
Traffic Violation Categories and CDL Disqualification
In Arizona, disqualification may be permanent or temporary, depending on the violation. A major violation nearly always results in disqualification. Serious violations typically result in disqualification after multiple occurrences.
If convicted of operating a vehicle (commercial or otherwise) in the commission of a felony that entails the distribution or manufacture of controlled substances, penalties include lifetime CDL disqualification.
A first violation results in 12-month disqualification, unless the violation occurs while transporting hazardous materials. In this case, the penalty is three years. Second violations result in lifetime disqualification.
Arizona considers the following to be major violations:
- Causing a fatality through negligence while operating a commercial vehicle
- Committing a DUI (drugs or alcohol)
- Committing a DUI while operating a commercial vehicle (Arizona defines as having a BAC of 0.04 percent or higher)
- Driving a commercial vehicle on a suspended or revoked CDL, or when disqualified from driving a commercial vehicle
- Leaving the scene of an accident
- Refusing an alcohol test
- Using a vehicle in the commission of a felony
A first violation does not lead to disqualification. Two serious violations in a 3-year period results in a 60-day disqualification. Three serious violations in a 3-year period results in a 120-day disqualification (served consecutively). Sentencing includes all serious violations that occur while driving a commercial vehicle, but not those occurring while driving a personal vehicle (unless the violation leads to the suspension or revocation of the operator’s license).
Arizona considers the following to be serious violations:
- Driving a commercial vehicle without carrying the proper CDL class or endorsements
- Driving a commercial vehicle without obtaining a CDL
- Driving a commercial vehicle without possessing a CDL
- Excessive speeding, i.e. 15 mph over the posted speed limit
- Following too closely
- Making improper lane changes
- Reckless driving
- Violating state law regarding motor vehicle control in connection with a fatal accident (not including parking violations)
Railroad Highway Grade Crossing Offenses
Conviction of a railroad highway grade crossing (RRHGC) offense leads to a minimum disqualification of 60 days. Two convictions within three years results in a 120-day minimum disqualification. Subsequent violations within three years result in a minimum 12-month disqualification.
Arizona considers the following to be RRHGC offenses:
- The driver fails to slow and verify the tracks are clear (even when not required to stop)
- The driver fails to stop before the crossing when the tracks are not clear (even when not required to stop)
- The driver has insufficient undercarriage clearance to negotiate a crossing
- The driver ignores directions from an enforcement official or traffic control device at the stopping
- The driver is required to stop but fails to do so before entering the crossing
- The driver leaves insufficient space to drive completely through the crossing
How Can Liberty Law Help?
With CDL operators facing the loss of their livelihood, fighting traffic violations takes on greater importance than it does for non-commercial drivers. Schedule a free consultation with the defense team at Liberty Law today. We will discuss your case and explain your options.