A commercial drivers license (CDL) holder in Maine might find their commercial license in jeopardy for committing traffic violations, regardless of whether the infraction occurred while he or she was driving a commercial vehicle. The rules that establish prohibited actions while driving are contained in Title 29-A, Chapter 19 of the state's statutes.
Violations Occurring Outside of Maine
Maine law allows its criminal courts to consider traffic violations occurring out of state when punishing an offender. This means that a CDL holder in Maine might find themselves treated as a second-time offender, and therefore subject to higher penalties, for having a previous traffic infraction in another state.
Commercial Vehicle Operation Irrelevant
Maine also allows its courts to disregard whether the CDL holder was driving a commercial vehicle at the time of the offense. Therefore, even if a moving violation occurred while the offender was operating a private vehicle, the use of his commercial license might be affected.
Maine Moving Violations
According to Maine's statutes, moving violations include speeding, illegal lane changes and failing to yield or stop at a red light or sign. Speeding is penalized by a progressive fine system. Exceeding the posted speed limit by up to nine miles per hour carries a $109 fine, up to 14 miles per hour a $172 fine and up to 19 miles per hour a $201 fine. Drivers may have points levied against their private and commercial license. Points are also ascribed on a progressive system, with one point being levied for each 10 miles per hour the driver exceeded the speed limit. If the offender was driving a commercial vehicle at the time of the infraction, these penalties apply regardless of whether the vehicle was towing a trailer. Failing to stop and illegal lane changes are punished by a fine of $100.
Maine CDL-Specific Violations
Maine considers breaching grade or weight restrictions and log book violations as CDL-specific infractions, because they can only be committed by CDL holders while they are driving a commercial vehicle. Each of these violations is considered a class E misdemeanor, which carries a maximum of six months imprisonment and a $1,000 fine.
DUI Laws in Maine
Sometimes Maine refers to driving under the influence as "operating under the influence." These terms are used interchangeably in the state's statutes. A first DUI carries a penalty of a 90-day license suspension and a $400 fine. A second DUI carries a penalty of an 18-month license suspension, a minimum of 7 days in jail and a $600 fine.
CDL holders convicted of a first or second DUI automatically have their commercial license suspended. A first-time CDL holder convicted of DUI has their commercial license suspended for a year; a second-time offender has their commercial license permanently revoked.
Defending against Traffic Charges
Maine allows CDL holders charged with a traffic violation to plead guilty, not guilty or enter into a plea agreement with the state prosecution. However, because the penalties for these infractions are established by statute, the penalties for pleading guilty or entering into an agreement will usually be the same. Maine does not allow CDL holders to attend driving school to mitigate their sentence.
Pleading not guilty takes the case to trial, during which the CDL holder must prove that the evidence does not support the allegations against them. A case will not be dismissed unless it completely lacks any evidence, such as when the arresting agency or prosecution did not file any evidence. An attorney hired to defend a CDL holder will likely try to prove that the evidence does not support the accusations against their client.
Maine does not allow CDL holders charged with a DUI to plead no contest or enter into a plea agreement with the state's prosecution. It also does not permit CDL holders who permanently lose their license to petition for its reinstatement at any time.
Obtaining Legal Advice
If you believe that your CDL is in jeopardy because of traffic violations or a DUI, seek the advice of a lawyer. An attorney will review your case and discuss the best way to defend yourself.