Massachusetts CDL Traffic Violations: Commercial License Issues

If you're a commercial driver and receive a speeding ticket, your livelihood could be in jeopardy; you will have points added to your commercial drivers license (CDL), which can lead to CDL suspensions and even job termination. Additionally, you'll pay higher insurance rates and face massive fines for each traffic violation you commit, whether it's in the commercial motor vehicle (CMV) or in your personal vehicle.

Intro to CDL Laws and License Issues

You need to have a CDL to drive any of the following vehicles:

  • A single vehicle with a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of over 26,000 pounds
  • A trailer with a GVWR of over 10,000 pounds and a gross combination weight rating (GCWR) of over 26,000 pounds
  • A vehicle designed to transport 16 or more persons, including the operator
  • A vehicle that has hazardous materials placards

There are three classes of CDLs in Massachusetts--A, B and C:

  • A can drive vehicles with GVWRs of over 26,000 pounds and GVWRs of vehicles being towed over 10,000 pounds (and all of those vehicles in classes “B” and “C”)
  • B can operate a single vehicle that has a GVWR of over 26,000 pounds and GVWRs of vehicles being towed up to 10,000 pounds (and vehicles in class “C”)
  • C can drive all vehicles not in class “A” or “B” and that are designed to transport 16 or more passengers, including the driver or those placarded for hazardous materials

Moving Violations

Moving violations, also known as “Serious Traffic Violations,” will disqualify your CDL for specified periods of time, with longer periods of time being imposed for more moving violations within a three year time period. While these violations are normally applied when you are driving your CMV, you can still have them assessed to your CDL in certain situations if you are driving your personal vehicle and commit a moving violation.

CDL Specific Violations

If you are convicted of two moving violations within a three year period in the state of Massachusetts, your CDL will be disqualified for a minimum of 60 days. If you are convicted of three moving violations within a three year period, your CDL will be disqualified for a minimum of 120 days. Such violations include driving 15 or more MPH over the posted speed limit, improper or erratic lane changes, and following vehicles too closely.

If you are convicted of a major offense in Massachusetts, your CDL will be suspended between 1 to 3 years, depending on whether you were transporting hazardous materials when you committed the major offense or not. If you are convicted of a second major offense in the Massachusetts, your CDL will be suspended for life throughout the entire United States. Such major offenses include leaving the scene of an accident (either operating a CMV or your personal vehicle), using a CMV or another vehicle in the commission of a felony, and causing a fatality through the negligent operation of a CMV.

DUI Charges

DUI charges are another major offense that can do major damage to your commercial driving career. As mentioned above, if you are convicted for the first time, you'll lose your CDL for one year (three years if you were carrying hazardous materials at the time of your arrest); if you are convicted for the second time, you lose your CDL for life.

You should note that a BAC level of .04 or more makes you legally intoxicated when it comes to commercial driving. You should also note that you can be driving your personal vehicle and have a BAC level of .04 or above and still have the DUI charge be applied to your CDL.

Impact on Commercial Drivers License

If you've been convicted of just one DUI charge, you can regain your CDL through the following process:

  • Pass both the CDL knowledge and driving tests
  • Pass a separate knowledge test to gain a hazardous materials endorsement. You may also need to present a letter from the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to show that you've passed their background check
  • Pay the re-qualification fee to reinstate your CDL

As mentioned earlier, this only applies to first-time DUI offenders; those with two or more DUI charges lose their CDLs for life.

Options for Defense

Commercial drivers have the right to request a hearing and challenge a disqualification. It is in your best interest to challenge a disqualification, even if it's just your first DUI offense. While you may be able to regain your CDL after one DUI offense, your chances of being hired by a trucking company are much slimmer because of trucking companies hesitating to hire commercial drivers who have DUI charges on their records. Therefore, it is imperative that you overturn disqualifications whenever possible.

When to Talk to a Lawyer

If you are a commercial driver and have been accused of a DUI, you could lose the ability to drive a commercial vehicle for a period of one to three years, which can severely damage your livelihood and reputation as a commercial driver. It is imperative that you talk to a Massachusetts DUI attorney immediately, as he will know the specific Massachusetts CDL laws that apply to your case and will present the strongest possible case to overturn the disqualification so that you can once again drive commercial vehicles.

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