Obtaining a commercial driver's license (CDL) requires additional skills on top of those needed to drive a regular passenger vehicle. Because commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) are significantly larger and heavier than passenger cars, because they can transport large numbers of people, and because they can carry hazardous materials, it is imperative that the people operating them have sufficient knowledge of how to do so. Drivers of CMVs are also held to higher standards than drivers of passenger vehicles. While some of these standards vary from state to state, many states have the same laws, as they have adopted the Federal Commercial Motor Vehicle Safety Act of 1986. Alabama is one such state that has adopted this act. The following gives some information about laws regarding commercial driver licenses in Alabama.
Alabama expects drivers to obey the rules of the road when they are driving a commercial vehicle. Failure to do so can result in violations or a record of offenses that can lead to loss of a commercial driver's license. For example, one type of violation is called a Serious Traffic Violation.
Alabama also imposes a point system on drivers caught violating traffic and driving safety rules while in a commercial vehicle. Under Alabama's point system, points assigned for various offenses include:
Drivers are also not allowed to have more than one CDL. If you are found having multiple CDLs from different states, you may be fined up to $5,000 and jailed. The court can also keep your home state license, and will return licenses from all other states.
Driving under the influence of alcohol is one of the most dangerous things a driver can do. If your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is .04 percent or higher in Alabama, operating a commercial vehicle is against the law. You will lose your CDL for at least one year for a first offense for driving with a BAC higher than the legal limit, driving a CMV under the influence of alcohol, refusing to be tested for alcohol in your bloodstream, driving a CMV under the influence of a controlled substance, leaving the scene of an accident involving a CMV, or committing a felony involving a CMV. Your license will be removed for at least three years if you commit any of these violations while operating a CMV placarded for hazardous materials.
Committing a violation in your personal vehicle can also affect your commercial driver's license. The Motor Carrier Safety Improvement Act of 1999 states that drivers with a CDL will have their CDL disqualified if they are convicted of certain types of moving violations in their personal vehicle.
If you are convicted of any traffic violation other than parking violations, regardless of what type of vehicle you are driving, you must tell your employer of that within 30 days.
If you have been ticketed or issued a CDL violation in Alabama, you may have defenses available to you. You may be able to argue that the issuance of the ticket was improper, for example, because it was a violation of your search and seizure Fourth Amendment rights, or because the officer used faulty equipment to test your sped. It is in your best interests to hire a lawyer as soon as you are facing a CDL violation, as an attorney can explain your options and help you to explore potential defenses.