Indiana CDL Traffic Violations: Commercial License Issues

The Indiana Commercial Drivers License (CDL) is a license that gives an individual the right to drive or tow commercial vehicles (CV) based on specified gross vehicle weight limits or passenger totals. The CDL laws are strictly enforced and cover traffic violations in a personal vehicle in addition to a commercial vehicle (CV), serious traffic violations, CDL specific violations and driving under the influence of alcohol or a controlled substance.

Defining CDL Vehicle Requirements

You are required to have an Indiana CDL when operating one of the following vehicles:

  • Vehicle that has a gross vehicle weight (gvw) rating of more than 26,000
  • Trailer that has a gross vehicle weight rating of more than 10,000
  • Vehicle (bus or other carriers) that can hold 16 or more people
  • Vehicle that transports hazardous materials

To obtain a CDL, you must pass a rigorous general knowledge written test and a driving test in a commercial vehicle. You are agreeing to accept responsibility for adherence to state and federal laws when obtaining a CDL license.

CDL License Suspension or Revocation

Indiana adheres to the rules and regulations outlined in the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations and also has its own set of state laws. Some offenses lead to the suspension of the CDL license for one year on a first offense and revocation of the license on a second offense. There are also special rules governing the transporting of hazardous material. A CDL will be suspended for at least 3 years on a first offense and for life on a second offense involving hazardous materials.

In addition, there is a lifetime license disqualification if a driver was to use a commercial motor vehicle (CMV) to make or distribute controlled substances and is convicted of a felony.

Major offenses include the following:

  • Operating a CV while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
  • Driving with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .04% or higher.
  • Refusing to take a breathalyzer or substance test.
  • Leaving the scene of an accident in which you were involved.
  • Committing a felony and a CMV is involved.
  • Driving or towing a CV vehicle while your license is out of service, suspended or revoked.

Serious and Non-Serious Traffic Violations

There are some traffic violations that have been specifically defined by law as "serious", or major. You can read the detailed requirements in the Indiana Commercial Driver's License Test Booklet, the Motor Carrier Services Commercial Motor Vehicle Guidebook for Indiana and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration Commercial Carrier Code.

The rules require the following:

  • 120 days or more license suspension for second conviction for violating railroad-highway grade crossing rules.
  • One year or more license suspension for third conviction for violating railroad-highway grade crossing rules.
  • 60 day license suspension if you commit 2 serious traffic violations within a 3 year period.
  • 120 day license suspension if you commit 3 serious traffic violations with a 3 year period.
  • 60 days or more license suspension for first time conviction for violating railroad-highway grade crossing rules.

The serious traffic violations include operating a CMV without a proper license or possessing a CDL from more than one state. Other serious violations include:

  • Driving more than 15 miles over the speed limit.
  • Reckless driving.
  • Operating the commercial vehicle in a way that endangers others.
  • Making improper lane changes.
  • Tailgating another vehicle.
  • Being convicted of a traffic offense that leads to a fatality.
  • Violating railroad-highway grade crossing rules, including not slowing down and checking tracks for trains or running a crossing stop sign.

There are also penalties for violating out-of-service orders that include 90 days for first violation, 1 year for a second violation within 10 years, and 3 years for a third violation within 10 years. Traffic violations not considered major, like driving less than 15 miles over the speed limit will still earn you points on your driver's license. If convicted of 2 traffic offenses in a 2 year period, you will have to attend a driver's education class. If you earn more than 18 points on your license in 2 years, then your license is suspended.

Violations Specific to the CDL

In Indiana, violating the following rules may result in tickets and/or fines:

  • Not placing a placard on a hazardous materials truck as required.
  • Exceeding the legal weight of the truck or trailer.
  • Not obtaining required permits for oversized or overweight vehicles.
  • Running stop sign or red light.
  • Driving without required minimum carrier and driver insurance.
  • Exceeding the federal Hours of Service limitations.
  • Loading cargo in a hazardous manner.
  • Not securing cargo properly.
  • Failing to file required Motor Carrier Quarterly Tax Report.
  • Overloading the truck and/or trailer based so that the gross vehicle weight, gross combination and/or axle weight exceeds maximums allowed by law.
  • Failing to keep logbooks as required by law.

Maintaining required permits and all required documentation, such as the Individual Mileage Record, is essential to avoid CDL suspension or revocation.

Indiana DUI Charges

Indiana has very strict Driving Under the Influence (DUI) laws and imposes severe penalties that can impact your ability to earn a livelihood. You are automatically giving consent to be tested for alcohol or other substances by accepting a commercial driver's license. You may lose your CDL license for a minimum of one year for a first offense if you are convicted of the following:

  • Driving with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .04 or higher.
  • Refusing to take a blood alcohol test.
  • Driving while under the influence of alcohol or a controlled substance.

A CDL holder who gets a first conviction for driving with a BAC of .04 percent or higher and is transporting hazardous materials will get a 3-year license suspension. If you are convicted of a DUI a second time at any point and under any circumstances, you will lose your CDL for life.

Personal Driving Violations

In addition to the penalties described, the law requires a CDL to be suspended or permanently revoked if the driver is convicted of serious moving violations as listed earlier while driving an automobile. If your auto driver's license is cancelled, suspended or revoked for a serious moving violation, then you will also lose your CDL for 60 to 120 days.

Consult an Attorney

A CDL license suspension or revocation is distressing because it means you have lost your ability to earn income or support a family. You will need to attend an administrative hearing to contest violation, where you will plead guilty, not guilty or nolo contendere. It is critical to have an experienced attorney assist you with your hearing. The attorney may be able to get the charges dismissed or lowered or prevent the suspension or revocation of license. Even if your CDL is suspended, the attorney may also be able to help you get approval for a hardship license so that you can continue earning a living. It's important to not attempt to handle your case alone because the end result will determine if you will get to continue using your CDL license and the amount of the fines assessed. In the case of a DUI, you are facing a lifetime loss of your license and possible jail time.

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