The State of Kentucky requires drivers of specific commercial vehicles to carry a commercial drivers license (CDL). Kentucky classifies these vehicles A through C with each class varying by type and weight. Class A includes any class of vehicle with a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of 26,001 pounds or more. Class B vehicles include any straight truck with two or more axles and a GVWR of 26,001 pounds or more, as well as vehicles with two or more axles and a GVWR of 26,001 pounds or more that pull a vehicle with a GVWR of 10,000 pounds or less. Vehicles classified as a C CDL are vehicles with a GVWR of less than 26,001 pounds used to transport hazardous material that require placarding and vehicles with a GVWR of 26,001 pounds or less that transport more than 15 passengers including the driver.
Exemptions to CDL requirements include farm vehicles, emergency vehicles, military vehicles and recreational vehicles. CDL privileges are particularly restrictive. Therefore, those who are convicted of certain traffic violations may face disqualification of their CDL privileges. Disqualification may run for months or for more serious violations may be for a lifetime.
Serious violations such as those listed below may result in disqualification of CDL privileges:
- speeding 15 MPH over the posted speed limit
- improper lane usage/changes
- following too closely behind another vehicle (tailgating)
- reckless driving
- any other wanton action that shows a total disregard of any person or property
If a driver's privilege to operate a personal vehicle is revoked, canceled or suspended because of traffic violations (these do not include parking violations), the driver will also lose his CDL driving privileges.
CDL Specific Violations
CDL specific violations include the following:
- violation of out-of-service orders
- railroad-highway grade crossing
- having more than one license
- not notifying employer within 30 days of any traffic violations whether a commercial or personal vehicle
- not notifying motor vehicle licensing agency within 30 days of any out-of-state traffic conviction
- driving a commercial vehicle without a license
Railroad-highway grade crossing include the following six violations:
- failing to stop when the track is not clear
- failing to slow down to check to make sure tracks are clear
- failing to stop before proceeding onto the tracks
- failing to have sufficient space to drive completely through the crossing without stopping
- failing to obey traffic control devices or directions from an enforcement officer at the crossing
- failing to negotiate a crossing because of insufficient undercarriage clearance
Any of these violations may result in a period of disqualification.
Alcohol-related violations are very serious CDL violations. In Kentucky, it is prohibited for a CDL holder to operate a commercial vehicle with any amount of alcohol or controlled substance in the blood, urine or breath. A blood alcohol content (BAC) of .01 percent to .039 percent will place the driver out of service for 24 hours. Drivers whose BAC tests at .04 percent will be disqualified for a year. A second conviction on separate similar violations result in a lifetime disqualification. Penalties apply only to operation of a commercial vehicle.
Impact on Commercial Drivers License
CDL violations incur the following:
- Two serious moving violations in three years - 60 days
- Three serious moving violations in three years - 120 days
- First conviction for driving a commercial vehicle with a BAC of .04; leaving the scene of an accident; refusing to submit to chemical testing; using the commercial vehicle in the commission of a felony--one year (three years if transporting hazardous material)
A CDL holder will be disqualified from operating a commercial motor vehicle for life if he uses the vehicle in the commission of a felony that involves the manufacture, distribution, or dispensing of a controlled substance, or possession with the intent to manufacture, distribute or dispense a controlled substance.
Options for Defense
If you are a CDL holder, the disqualification of your privileges can impede your ability to earn a living. Even if you receive a ticket for what seems like a minor traffic violation, the consequences may not be minor. Additionally, violations in your personal vehicle may disqualify you from operating a commercial motor vehicle. The best defense is to ensure that your legal rights and CDL rights are sufficiently protected by legal representation. An experienced attorney will be able to investigate the circumstances regarding the violation to determine your best defense.