Whether you are a long-distance trucker, a regional carrier, a bus driver or even a delivery driver, the act of driving is more than a method of getting from one destination to another, it's your whole livelihood. The obtainment of a commercial driver's license (CDL) gives motorists access to various industries to build a career, however, it also subjects CDL owners to strict regulations and traffic laws upheld on both a federal and statewide scale.
Aside from the pressures that commercial drivers experience due to the nature of their job - long hours on the road, tight deadlines, congested traffic, the lives of the elderly, children or disabled in their hands - you must live up to the high expectations placed on them. One mistake on the road may not only lead to rising insurance premiums and fines, but it could also jeopardize your entire career. This is why it's important that you contact an attorney to help you weigh your options and advise you how to approach traffic citations appropriately.
It's also important for you to have a basic understanding of the traffic violations in the state that could possibly compromise your driving privileges and ultimately cost you your career. For the purposes of this article, we will address (1) CDL traffic violations that lead to a license suspension or revocation, (2), the state's point system, and (3) the national driver registry.
CDL Violations in Pennsylvania
In order to obtain a CDL and start a commercial driving career, motorists are required to take a knowledge test that can only be passed with a clear and coherent understanding of state and federal driving regulations. Once this test is passed, drivers are granted a learning permit. While driving with a learning permit, they are given a trainer to teach them about maintenance and help motorists who drive large vehicles to sharpen their skills.
Since commercial are required to undergo more training than the typical licensed motorists, the traffic laws enforced upon motorists are more stringent, resulting in harsher legal repercussions. Even for a first-time offense, your CDL may be suspended or revoked for a minimum duration of a year if you are found guilty of any of the following violations:
Driving a commercial motor vehicle under the influence of drugs or alcohol
Under Pennsylvania law, commercial drivers are prohibited from driving a commercial vehicle with a blood alcohol level of 0.04% or higher and/or with any controlled substances in their system. A conviction for a DWI will result in a one-year suspension of a CDL license (a 3-year suspension if the vehicle contains hazardous material), and mandatory jail time, even for a first-time offense. Subsequent DWI convictions will result in a lifetime CDL ban.
Refusing an alcohol blood test
Pennsylvania has legislation known as the “implied consent” law, that requires licensed motorists to give a breath, blood or urine test for calculating blood alcohol concentration or the presence of drugs in a commercial driver's system. As long as an officer has a reasonable suspicion that a commercial motorist is under the influence of drugs or alcohol, he is legally allowed to request that a driver take a test. Once an officer has warned of the repercussions and a driver still refuses, he or she will be guilty of violating the implied consent law. As a result of this violation, a CDL will be disqualified for a duration of time.
Leaving the scene of an accident and failing to report it
All licensed motorists in the state of Pennsylvania must stay at the scene of an accident if they are involved and report to authorities. This obligation also rests on commercial drivers. If law enforcement is notified with information that a commercial driver left the scene of an accident, they may be facing criminal charges, and face the administrative penalty of a license suspension. If a person is injured or killed in an accident involving a commercial motorist and he or she leaves the scene, elevated criminal penalties may be imposed, as well as a potential lifetime CDL ban.
Pennsylvania's Point System
Commercial drivers should also be aware of the state's point system. Acquiring one too many traffic tickets could also jeopardize your livelihood. Pennsylvania's Department of Transportation, commonly referred to as Penndot, accounts for the driving records of licensed motorists in the state. Each time a motorist is found guilty of a traffic offense (paying a fine is an admission of guilt) a series of points is added to a driving record. The number of points marked on a person's record depends on the traffic offense. For example, failing to stop at a sign is 3 points. Once a driver reaches the six-point mark, administrative corrective actions like a license suspension or revocation may be imposed depending on the circumstances.
The National Driver Registry
Maintaining a squeaky clean driving record is essential to achieve longevity in the commercial driving industry. The existence of traffic violations on an individual's record may hinder potential job prospects or cause a person to lose his or her current job at a commercial driving company. Some people may be under the impression that getting infractions within a state won't matter if a driver relocates, but this couldn't be further from the truth.
Once a driver receives their CDL, they are automatically listed in a computerized database called the National Driver Registry (NDR). In the event that he or she gets their license suspended or is convicted of a serious traffic violation, records of these instances will be documented in the registry. This registry follows drivers wherever they go, as employers in all states have access to this information.
Philadelphia Traffic Attorney
Traffic offenses could endanger the livelihood of CDL holders. If you are a commercial driver who has been cited with a traffic offense, you need the help of a skilled traffic attorney who can help you appropriately respond to a ticket. Contact legal professional Joseph D. Lento today for assistance.