Delaware CDL Traffic Violations: Commercial License Issues

A commercial drivers license, or CDL, allows a driver to operate a commercial motor vehicle (CMV). These are vehicles that are large and/or used to carry a large number of people. Less than five percent of drivers in Delaware are qualified to drive commercial vehicles, and these drivers are held to a higher standard than others because of the dangers associated with careless driving of passengers or large vehicles. The Delaware laws reflect this increased responsibility for those with a CDL, imposing stricter penalties for violations.

General Violations and CDL Drivers

CDL drivers are expected to obey Delaware driving laws. When a driver with a CDL fails to obey these laws, he puts his commercial driver's license at risk. Under the rules of Delaware law:

  • A CDL driver may have his or her license suspended immediately for committing "major" violations. This includes violations like driving drunk, causing a fatal accident and/or otherwise causing a death while driving a commercial vehicle.
  • "Serious" but not "major" traffic offenses can also result in the loss of a CDL. If a driver commits two serious traffic violations in a three year period, his or her commercial driver's license will be disqualified for 60 days. If three or more violations occur within a three year period, the CDL will be disqualified for 120 days.

Examples of "serious" offenses include:

  • Driving more than 15 miles over the posted limit
  • Erratic lane changes
  • Driving a commercial vehicle while not licensed to drive that particular vehicle

The Delaware DMV also explains that a person really has only "one" driver's license total. In other words, if violations occur while driving a private passenger vehicle and your standard license is suspended because of it, you will lose your CDL as well.

CDL Specific Violations

In addition to general violations that apply to all Delaware citizens, there are also some specific requirements under Delaware and federal law that apply only to drivers of commercial vehicles. Violations of these laws can also cause consequences. For example, Delaware became a member of the International Registration Plan (IRP) in January of 1995. Because Delaware is a member of the IRP, drivers who intend to drive in more than one location and who meet the applicable criteria must meet the IRP reporting requirements. Drivers required to comply with these requirements are those who:

  • Drive vehicles with two axles and with a gross weight above 26,000 pounds
  • Drive vehicles that have three axles (or more than three)

Detailed logs must be kept tracking fuel purchase locations and amounts, distances traveled and other matters. Multiple logbook violations could result in fines, penalties, suspension or eventual removal of a license.

DUI Violations

Driving under the influence of alcohol is especially dangerous when done by a driver with a commercial license. As such, the laws for Delaware for those with a CDL are again more stringent than laws for standard vehicles. While Delaware law normally charges an individual with a DUI if his or her BAC exceeds .08, it is illegal in Delaware to drive a commercial vehicle with a BAC as low as .04. In fact, if a person's blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is .04 or higher, or if certain other criteria are met, it is illegal to operate a commercial vehicle. Furthermore, if any alcohol under .04 shows up in a driver's blood during a test, that driver is not allowed to drive a CMV for 24 hours.

Under the Delaware law, the driver's CDL will be removed for at least one year for a first offense for:

  • Driving with a BAC of .04% or higher
  • Operating a CMV while under the influence of alcohol or controlled substance
  • Refusing to take a blood alcohol test
  • Leaving the scene of an accident that involves a CMV
  • Committing a felony that involves the use of a CMV
  • Causing a death

Because it is so dangerous to be even a little intoxicated while driving a CMV, the penalties are strict. They become stricter as well with subsequent offenses or in certain circumstances. For example:

  • A driver's CDL will be taken for at least three years if a DUI offense is committed while driving a CMV carrying hazardous materials.
  • If a driver commits a second offense or commits a felony involving drugs using a CMV, the CDL is removed for life.
  • If someone's driving privileges are removed due to a violation committed in a personal vehicle, his/her CDL is removed for year.
  • A second violation in a personal vehicle causes it to be removed for life.

Talk to a Lawyer

Many laws are imposed on people with a CDL, and for good reason; these laws are necessary to keep the streets safe. However, if you have been accused of a violation of the law and do not believe you are guilty, you should strongly consider speaking with a qualified lawyer who can help you to deal with the charges and protect your commercial driver's license.

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