Arkansas CDL Traffic Violations: Commercial License Issues

While a majority of adults possess a driver's license, the average driver does not possess a commercial driver's license (CDL). You must meet more requirements to obtain a CDL, and the laws regarding them vary from state to state. A CDL allows you to legally operate a commercial motor vehicle (CMV), a vehicle that is large and/or used to carry many people. Drivers of commercial vehicles are held to a higher standard than other drivers under Arkansas laws.

CDL License Requirements

In Arkansas, you must have a CDL in order to operate any of the following:

  • Vehicle with a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of more than 26,000 lbs.
  • Trailer with a GVWR of more than 10,000 lbs. if the gross combination weight rating is over 26,000 lbs.
  • Vehicle made to transport more than 15 people
  • Vehicle requiring hazardous material placards

You can only have one CDL. If you move states, you should keep the license for your current state and turn in any old ones. Failure to do this can result in a fine of up to $5,000 and/or jail time.

Moving Violations

Like any driver, drivers with CDLs must obey the rules of the road. Failure to do so can result in penalties and loss of the license under Arkansas law. For example, in Arkansas, if a driver of a commercial vehicle has a moving violation for driving more than 15 miles over the posted speed limit, it is considered a serious traffic violation. Other serious traffic violations include changing lanes erratically, driving recklessly and following the vehicle ahead too closely.

If you commit 2 serious traffic violations in a 3-year period, the CDL license will be disqualified for 60 days. If 3 violations occur within a 3-year period, the license will be disqualified for 120 days.

CDL-Specific Violations

In addition to obeying the laws of the road, you must also observe laws that apply just to CDL drivers. Many of the violations that exist are governed by federal law, which means they apply not just to Arkansas but to all states in general. For example:

  • The International Registration Plan and the International Fuel Tax Agreement are federally mandated programs that CDL drivers must follow.
  • You must keep detailed logs of your fuel purchase locations and amounts, distances traveled and other matters. Logbook violations could result in fines, penalties, suspension or removal of a commercial driver's license.
  • When you violate grade restrictions, you can be subject to up to a 60-day license suspension even for a first offense.
  • Leaving the scene of an accident that involves a CMV, or committing a felony that involves the use of a CMV, can result in a license suspension of up to 1 year. If any of these offenses occur while you're driving a CMV carrying hazardous materials, your license will be taken for 3 years. If you commit a second offense, the license may be removed for life.

DUI Charges and CDLs

In Arkansas it is illegal to operate a commercial vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.04 percent or higher. Your CDL will be removed for at least 1 year for a first offense. If any alcohol under 0.04 percent shows up in your test, you are not allowed to drive the CMV for 24 hours.

The license will also be removed for at least 1 year if you operate a CMV while under the influence of any other controlled substances or if you commit a felony involving drugs and using a CMV. For second offenses of this type, the CDL is removed for life.

Violations in Personal Vehicles

You really only have one driver's license under the law. If violations occur while you're driving a private passenger vehicle and the result is suspended driving privileges, your CDL will be disqualified as well. Furthermore, because of an agreement between almost all 50 states, called the Interstate License Compact, wherein states share information about tickets and license suspensions, even out-of-state tickets can result in a license suspension--of your personal and commercial license--in your home state.

Defenses and Getting Legal Help

CDL citations can have a major impact on your ability to keep your license and thus on your ability to earn a living. Defenses may exist, such as arguing that there was a faulty test done when your ticket was issued (like a bad breathalyzer or a misread radar gun) or arguing that your Fourth Amendment rights against illegal search/seizure were violated. When you are charged with a violation or an offense, contact a lawyer to help you explore any possible defenses or other options you may have for reducing the penalties you face.

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