Serious Violations While Operating a Commercial Motor Vehicle
Driving a commercial vehicle is not the same as driving a standard passenger vehicle. For example, most commercial vehicles are several times larger than the standard passenger vehicle. However, just because they are larger does not mean that they are driving slower. Drivers still need to keep up with traffic, and in many instances, they might be moving faster than traffic. Accidents involving a commercial vehicle or a tractor-trailer are common and when they happen there are often injuries that accompany them.
Types of Commercial Drivers Licenses
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has noted that driving a commercial vehicle is not the same as driving a standard passenger vehicle. They have imposed their own licensing requirements for commercial drivers in n attempt to ensure that drivers are capable of operating such a large vehicle and they are equipped to handle the responsibility. There are three different types of commercial drivers licenses that a driver can obtain.
- Class A Licenses: For a driver to drive any combination of vehicles which have a gross combination weight rating or gross combination weight of 11,794 kilograms or more (26,001 pounds or more), they will be required to obtain a class A Commercial Drivers License whichever is greater, inclusive of a towed unit(s) with a gross vehicle weight rating or gross vehicle weight of more than 4,536 kilograms (10,000 pounds) whichever is greater.
- Class B License: Any single vehicle which has a gross vehicle weight rating or gross vehicle weight of 11,794 or more kilograms (26,001 pounds or more), or any such vehicle towing a vehicle with a gross vehicle weight rating or gross vehicle weight that does not exceed 4,536 kilograms (10,000 pounds).
- Class C: Any single vehicle, or combination of vehicles, that does not meet the definition of Class A or Class B, but is either designed to transport 16 or more passengers, including the driver, or is transporting material that has been designated as hazardous under 49 U.S.C. 5103 and is required to be placarded under subpart F of 49 CFR Part 172 or is transporting any quantity of a material listed as a select agent or toxin in 42 CFR Part 73.
These licenses have been put in place in an effort to document and maintain control over the trucking industry.
Serious Driving Offenses for Truckers
Because of the severity of an injury that can result from a tractor-trailer or any other commercial vehicle accident the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration provides for major and serious driving violations Major Violations While Operating a Motor Vehicle according to the Federal motor Carrier Safety Administration include:
- Being under the influence of alcohol as prescribed by State law.
- Being under the influence of a controlled substance.
- Having an alcohol concentration of 0.04 or greater while operating a CMV.
- Refusing to take an alcohol test as required by a State or jurisdiction under its implied consent laws or regulations.
- Leaving the scene of an accident.
- Using the vehicle to commit a felony other than a felony described in number 9 of this table.
- Driving a CMV when, as a result of prior violations committed operating a CMV, the driver’s CDL is revoked, suspended, or canceled, or the driver is disqualified from operating a CMV.
- Causing a fatality through the negligent operation of a CMV, including but not limited to the crimes of motor vehicle manslaughter, homicide by motor vehicle and negligent homicide.
- Using the vehicle in the commission of a felony involving manufacturing, distributing, or dispensing a controlled substance.
In addition to this category of major driving offenses the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration also has outlined a series of violations that they consider to be serious. These include:
- 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.
Penalties for Traffic Offenses
In addition to the penalties and fines that a state may impose for violating their own traffic laws, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration can also disqualify a commercial driver’s license. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, disqualifications apply to CDL holders and persons required to have a CDL. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration outlines penalties for major and serious violations as follows:
Disqualification for Major Offenses
The first violation for a major violation, in a Commercial vehicle or a non-commercial vehicle, will result in either a 1-year disqualification or a 3-year disqualification. A driver is more likely to receive a three-year disqualification if they are transporting hazardous materials. In the event that a driver receives a second violation then they can be subject to a lifetime disqualification. However, in certain circumstances, a driver may be eligible for reinstatement under certain conditions after 10 years.
Disqualification for Serious Traffic Violations
If a driver is found to have committed a serious traffic violation as outlined above, then the first violation for a serious violation does not result in a disqualification. However, in the event that a driver has a second serious violation within 3 years of their first violation, then they will be disqualified from driving a commercial vehicle for 60 days. If a driver has a third serious violation within 3 years, they will be disqualified from driving a commercial vehicle for up to 120 days. Serious disqualifications must be served consecutively. All serious violations in a CMV are included. Serious violations in a non-CMV must not be included unless it results in the revocation, cancellation, or suspension of the CDL holder’s license or non-CMV driving privileges.
Using a CMV or non-CMV in the commission of a felony involving manufacturing, distributing, or dispensing a controlled substance will result in a disqualification for life, without the possibility of reinstatement.
CONTACT OUR PENNSYLVANIA TRUCK ACCIDENT LAWYERS TODAY
To schedule a private, no-cost evaluation, call the law offices of Reiff & Bily Trucking at (800) 861-6708 or contact us online. If the statute of limitations expires, your window of legal opportunity will close and you won’t be able to pursue a claim.