I want to introduce you to Barry, a typical CDL truck driver. Barry is hauling a load of building materials out of the Windy City . The lumpers were slower than usual and he needs to make up time. The speed limit is 55 and Barry’s truck is governed at 65. He’s pushing the pedal to keep up steam for the hills but four wheelers are a steady parade passing in the $100 lane.
He is a trained and safety conscious truck driver with no accidents in his 400,000-mile career. Barry uses his signals, maintains a safe distance, and keeps an eye out for vehicles in the no zone. He is a surprised and not so happy trucker when a DOT officer flashes the blues and pulls him over.
During the half hour detailed inspection of his rig and paperwork, Barry is polite and answers all the officer’s questions. Since there are no safety violations, he is visibly upset when the officer issues him a speeding ticket for 72 in a 55. The explanation that the truck is governed and that he was driving slower than other traffic falls on deaf ears.
Returning for court to contest an unjust ticket is not an option for most truckers. Since his last ticket was several years ago, the decision was made to just pay the ticket. Barry sends in his money order because of his mistaken assumption that he has no other option. Our safe driving trucker friend has just made a big mistake. He isn’t aware that a new Federal rule mandates a suspension for a CDL driver who receives two serious speeding tickets within a three-year period. Soon a letter arrives informing Barry that his driver’s license is suspended. When he informs his company they immediately terminate him.
Now there is a serious problem. There are still the mortgage payments, utility bills, grocery bills and a host of other bills that must still be paid.
Even if the company could use him in another position he has no transportation. The company has also told him that even when the suspension is over he will not be rehired. It is likely that Barry’s truck driving career is over since most insurance companies will not approve his employment until the suspension goes off his Motor Vehicle Report.
Like many truckers he was not aware of the consequences of just paying a speeding ticket. Many states DMV’s are also having problems trying to understand and implement these new Federal regulations. It will probably be several years before they have all the kinks are worked out.
Barry’s story does have somewhat of a happy ending. The first error by the DMV was that they suspended his driving license rather than just his CDL privileges. He was very relieved when we informed him that he was still entitled to drive his personal vehicle. The second error was that the suspension was based on a speeding ticket received before the new rules were implemented. We referred him to a local attorney and he was soon back in the driver’s seat and working with his old company.
What should you do to avoid a similar problem? Besides the obvious, it is important to contest any traffic ticket and you need to know which traffic violations are considered serious. Most officers are not aware of the new regulations and may be willing to change the citation to another statute. If found guilty your CDL license will not be at risk. Monitor your MVR so you know if there are any speeding tickets on your record and the dates. It may be possible to delay a trial until a previous traffic ticket goes off depending on how your state maintains their records.
By Wayne Patterson with special thanks to Laurie Neely. Wayne is a speeding ticket and CDL traffic attorney in Greenville, South Carolina. For legal representation for a Clemson speeding ticket, Duncan speeding ticket, Greenville speeding ticket and DOT violations call 864-270-7973.
Speeding excessively, involving any speed of 24.1 kmph (15 mph) or more above the posted speed limit. Driving recklessly, as defined by State or local law or regulation, including but, not limited to, offenses of driving a motor vehicle in willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property. Making improper or erratic traffic lane changes. Following the vehicle ahead too closely. Violating State or local law relating to motor vehicle traffic control (other than a parking violation) arising in connection with a fatal accident. Driving a CMV without obtaining a CDL. Driving a CMV without a CDL in the driver's possession. Driving a CMV without the proper class of CDL and/or endorsements for the specific vehicle group being operated or for the passengers or type of cargo being transported.
If you receive one of the above traffic violations your job is in jeopardy unless you can get the traffic ticket reduced or dismissed.
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