The rules for moving and other violations of holders of a commercial drivers license (CDL) in New Hampshire are similar to the state’s laws regarding personal vehicles. In fact, except for CDL-specific laws and DUI laws, the majority of the rules are the same. These rules are established in Title 21 (XXI), Chapter 262 and 265 of the state’s Revised Statutes.
New Hampshire courts and its department of motor vehicles consider out-of-state violations when penalizing a CDL holder. This means that previous, out-of-state violations could result in an increase of punishments for the violation currently pending before the court or agency.
Operators of commercial vehicles guilty of speeding are subject to a $50 fine for exceeding the speed limit by 10 miles per hour. This fine increases to $75 for exceeding the limit by up to 15 miles per hour, $100 for 20 miles per hour, $200 for 25 miles per hour, and a minimum of $350 and a court appearance for more than 25 miles per hour. Failing to stop when directed, not heeding a stop sign, or proceeding through a red light is punishable by a $100 fine. Three demerits are placed on a CDL for speeding or failing to stop; four demerits are placed on a CDL for exceeding the posted speed limit by more than 25 miles per hour. These same penalties apply regardless of whether the commercial vehicle is towing a trailer.
While licenses are not revoked for a first moving violation, a driver is subject to a 60-day license suspension for a second revocation occurring within three years of the first. A third violation within three years results in a 120-day license suspension.
CDL holders are also subject to specific rules and penalties for violations occurring while driving a commercial vehicle. A CDL holder who violates the state’s weight or grade restrictions is subject to a 60-day license revocation. A second violation within three years is punished by a 120-day suspension, and a third by a year. There are no penalties for logbook violations in New Hampshire.
The punishments for a DUI apply to CDL drivers regardless of whether he was driving a commercial vehicle at the time of the offense. This means that if a CDL holder is convicted of DUI for his personal vehicle, the punishments apply to his CDL license. A first DUI results in the suspension of the CDL for a year and a second offense in its lifetime revocation. CDL holders convicted of DUI while driving a commercial vehicle containing hazardous materials receive a minimum of a three year license suspension.
A case can only be dismissed if the prosecution or police fail to provide evidence of the CDL holder’s violation. When defending a CDL holder in court, an attorney will attempt to prove that the evidence shows that no violation occurred or that the police violated state laws when issuing the citation.
A CDL license holder can plead guilty, not guilty or enter into a plea bargain with the state’s prosecuting authority. A guilty plea usually results in the CDL holder being unable to appeal the court’s punishments. A not guilty plea takes the trial to court, after which, if he is found liable, the CDL holder is sentenced to penalties of the jury’s choice. A plea bargain contains terms favorable to the license holder and the prosecution.
A CDL holder charged with violating the state’s motor vehicle laws can reduce the number of points on his license by attending traffic school. However, attendance will not reduce the length of time his license is suspended, if any.
If you are a CDL holder in New Hampshire and believe your license is threatened by charges of traffic violations, seek legal advice. An attorney will review the charges and discuss with you the potential punishments you could receive.