Can I get a traffic charge dropped to protect my CDL?


Can I get a traffic charge dropped to protect my CDL?


Traffic ticket laws that apply to drivers with a commercial driver's license, or CDL, are more stringent than the laws that apply to drivers of passenger vehicles. A commercial driver's license gives a driver the legal right to drive a vehicle with passengers (like a bus) or to drive large vehicles (like a semi truck). Obviously, driving large vehicles and driving passengers around requires you to be more careful, and if you do not follow the rules of the road and the laws associated with having a CDL, you can face suspension or loss of your license.

If you find yourself dealing with a citation, such as for speeding, running a red light, tailgating or violating any of the other rules of the road, you may wish to try to get the citation dismissed. If you find yourself dealing with criminal charges like DUI charges or reckless driving charges, you may also want to try to get those charges dropped.

The only way you are going to be able to get charges or citations against you dismissed is to make it so the prosecutor cannot prove his or her case, or to raise a valid affirmative defense against those charges. Typically, there are two main methods that are used to prevent a prosecutor from successfully proving your guilt:

  • You can argue that the actual evidence against you was faulty. If the officer used a radar gun, for example, you can argue that the gun wasn't properly calibrated. If the officer used a breathalyzer and he did not maintain it according to the manufacturer's instructions, you can argue that it too was not properly calibrated and didn't give an accurate reading. When you raise an argument such as this, it is going to be your burden to prove that the evidence is faulty and that it doesn't prove what the prosecutor is trying to show. 
  • You can argue a problem with collection of evidence and have it suppressed. For example, the Fourth Amendment protects you against unreasonable search and seizure. If the police pull you over for absolutely no reason and decide to give you a breathalyzer, you can argue that this was a violation of your Fourth Amendment rights. If the judge agrees, the prosecutor's evidence will not be permitted to be introduced since it was collected illegally. Without evidence, the charges will be dropped. 

Raising an affirmative defense on the other hand, involves arguing that you did break the law but that you needed to. For example, if there is a law against speeding but you had to temporarily go over the speed limit in order to avoid being hit by an oncoming vehicle, then you could argue necessity. You sped because you had no choice and thus shouldn't face charges because of it. Again, proving the affirmative defense is your burden.

If you do hope to defend yourself against a traffic citation or charges, you should strongly consider getting legal help. A qualified lawyer familiar with commercial driver's license laws can assist you in exploring your options for how to defend yourself and keep your CDL record clean.

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