Hawaii CDL Traffic Violations: Commercial License Issues

In Hawaii, those who wish to operate commercial vehicles must be 21 years of age and hold a valid license issued in any state. A commercial drivers license (CDL) is required to operate the following: a single vehicle with a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of 15,000 pounds or less designed to transport 15 or fewer passengers, a single vehicle with a GVWR of 15,001 to 26,000 pounds, any combination of vehicles with a combined GVWR of 26,001 pounds, vehicles used to tow double and triple trailers, tank vehicles, vehicles used to transport hazardous materials that require placards, and any vehicles not otherwise categorized used to transport 16 or more passengers or transport hazardous materials that require placards. Diverging from laws in other states, Hawaii also includes motor scooters with 5 horsepower (HP) or less and motorcycles over 5 HP.

CDLs come with stringent requirements that include not violating any traffic laws. Doing so can disqualify the CDL from operating privileges for a set suspension period or in some cases total revocation of the commercial license.

Moving Violations

Under Hawaii's code (HRS 286-231) the following are serious traffic violations that may result in disqualification:

  • Speeding at least 15 MPH over the posted traffic speed limit
  • Making improper or erratic lane changes
  • Following another vehicle too closely (tailgating)
  • Generally driving in a reckless manner
  • Driving a commercial motor vehicle (CMV) without a valid or appropriately classified CDL

Hawaii section 286-240 issues disqualification if a CDL driver:

  • Causes an accident that results in a fatality
  • Leaves the scene of an accident
  • Commits a felony while operating

CDL-Specific Violations

In Hawaii, CDL holders also may be disqualified from privileges for violations relating to improper railroad-highway grade offenses (HR 286-240). These violations include the following:

  • Driver fails to stop before driving onto a railroad crossing
  • Driver fails to stop before reaching a crossing if the tracks are not clear
  • Driver fails to leave enough space to drive completely through the crossing without stopping
  • Before proceeding, driver fails to check to see if a train is coming
  • Driver fails to obey a traffic control device at the crossing
  • Driver fails to negotiate a crossing due to insufficient undercarriage clearance

Drivers are also prohibited from operating a CMV while the vehicle has an out-of-service order.

DUI Charges

Among the more serious traffic violations is operating a CMV while intoxicated. Hawaii prohibits a driver with a blood alcohol content of .04 percent from operating a commercial vehicle. This prohibition also extends to intoxicants other than alcohol. Refusing to submit to chemical testing is also a violation. DUI violations fall under Section 286-240 for penalties.

Impact on CDL

The aforementioned violations incur the following penalties:

A first conviction under HR 286-231 does not incur disqualification. A second conviction of a second offense under this section during a three-year period incurs a 60-day disqualification. A third or subsequent conviction of a separate offense under the section during a three-year period increases the disqualification period to 120 days.

A first conviction under HR 286-240 (including DUI violations but excluding railroad crossing violations) when not transporting hazardous materials incurs a one-year disqualification. If transporting hazardous material, then the disqualification is for a period of three years. A second and separate offense of any of the proscribed violations results in a lifetime disqualification. A driver may appeal for reinstatement; however, if reinstated and the driver commits another violation, the subsequent lifetime disqualification is not eligible for reinstatement.

Using the CMV for the commission of a felony results in a lifetime disqualification, not eligible for reinstatement for 10 years.

Railroad-highway grade crossing violations incur a minimum 60-day disqualification upon a first conviction. A second conviction within three years results in a minimum 120-day disqualification. A third or subsequent conviction within three years results in a minimum one-year disqualification.

Under HR 286-240, a first conviction for violating an out-of-service order while transporting hazardous materials or driving a passenger CMV is a minimum 180-day disqualification. The disqualification for a first conviction for a non-HAZMAT or passenger CMV is a minimum 90 days. A second violation within 10 years for a HAZMAT/Passenger CMV is a minimum three-year disqualification; non-HAZMAT disqualification is for a minimum one-year period.

A suspension or revocation for a violation in a personal vehicle results in a disqualification of CDL privileges for the same period.

Options for Defense

Pleading guilty to a traffic violation, no matter how seemingly insignificant, may result in a disqualification period upon conviction. If you drive a CMV for a living, the disqualification may prove onerous. Hiring an attorney is the best defense to fighting traffic tickets and other violations. An attorney will be able to investigate the circumstances and find evidence that can help you protect your CDL privileges.

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