For many, having a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) is their livelihood; Florida and many other states offer lucrative jobs for truck drivers, and the transportation of commerce is always in high demand.
Yet, as important as a CDL is to those who possess it, it is equally important to the State of Florida to ensure highway safety. Due to the potentially catastrophic impact of large vehicles, the standard for receiving – and keeping – a commercial driver’s license is higher than the requirements for a regular class E license. Below are 5 ways to protect your CDL.
Get a Commercial Motor Vehicle License. Believe it or not, you can lose your CDL before you even get one. Driving a commercial vehicle without a commercial driver’s license is not only a crime punishable by a year in jail and a $1000 fine; it is also a strike against you in your future endeavor to get a CDL. Driving a commercial vehicle without a CDL is considered a “serious traffic violation” per Florida Statute 322.61(1), and two serious violations within a 3-year period disqualifies a driver from operating a commercial vehicle for 60 days. Three convictions for serious traffic violations triggers a 120-day ban from operating a commercial motor vehicle. A simple way to avoid getting a ticket for No CDL is to get a CDL!
Keep in mind that you must also get the proper class license for the type of vehicle you wish to drive. There are three classes of commercial driver licenses:
- Class A – for trucks with a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of up to 26,001 pounds
- Class B – for trucks with a GVWR of 26,001 pounds or more.
- Class C – for vehicles transporting hazardous materials or more than 15 people
Even if you have a valid commercial driver’s license, you can be criminally cited for having the wrong class CDL for your type of vehicle.
Drive Carefully. The list of serious traffic violations that could suspend your CDL include Reckless Driving, exceeding the speed limit by 15 miles per hour or more, Improper Lane Change, and Following too Closely (commonly known as “tailgating”). Reckless driving is a criminal offense; the others are traffic infractions. Regardless, any two of these offenses (or a combination) within 3 years will result in a 60-day suspension of your CDL. Three offenses within 3 years is a basis for a 120-day suspension.
Note that you do not necessarily need to be driving a commercial motor vehicle for CDL suspensions to apply. However, if the offenses were committed with a commercial motor vehicle, and the convictions for these offenses result in suspension, revocation or cancellation of your regular driving privileges, the CDL suspension rises to 1 year.
Don’t Drink and Drive. It may seem obvious that a DUI would hurt your CDL. What is less commonly known is that you do not need to exceed the legal limit to get in trouble. Driving a commercial motor vehicle with an alcohol concentration of .04 percent or higher is grounds for losing your commercial driver’s license for 1 year. The blood/breath alcohol concentration (BAC) required for a DUI in Florida is .08. This is a clear example of how the standard is higher for those who operate a commercial motor vehicle.
Fight your Tickets. If you do find yourself in the unfortunate situation of a traffic ticket, DON’T PAY THAT TICKET without attempting to fight it. Payment of a traffic ticket in Florida constitutes an automatic plea of guilty and, in most cases, an automatic conviction and points on your driving record. By electing court for your traffic ticket, you have a chance of requesting a dismissal, reduced or amended charges, or no points. If your citation is criminal, the need to fight your case is even greater.
Get a Lawyer. Along with the decision to fight your traffic infraction or criminal traffic charge, you should strongly consider hiring a criminal defense or traffic ticket attorney to strategize about your defense. An attorney experienced in CDL-related traffic violations will increase your chances of a favorable result. The law, procedure, and courtroom personalities are critical to your case; hire someone who can give you the advantage in court.
Protect Your CDL. Losing your CDL can have a devastating impact on your ability to support yourself and your family. For this reason, protecting your commercial driver’s license is vital. At Casanova Law, a Wellington criminal defense and traffic law firm, we understand that it’s personal. Leading attorney Lourdes Casanova is a former prosecutor for Palm Beach County with experience in handling CDL-related violations. A native Floridian, Casanova grew up in Palm Beach County. Her familiarity with the geographic area, along with her love for family and her legal skills, combine to form a highly-skilled attorney with the drive to help those fighting for their livelihood.
Call Casanova Law today to find out how we can help save your CDL.