In New York State, drivers are required to have a commercial driver's license (CDL) to operate vehicles with a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of 26,001 lbs. or more; trailers with a GVWR of more than 10,000 lbs. or where the gross combination weight rating is 26,001 or more; vehicles designed to transport 15 or more passengers (not including the driver); vehicles used to transport hazardous material or where Homeland Security requires a background check and fingerprinting for a hazardous materials endorsement.
Vehicles that do not require a CDL are farmer-owned vehicles with a GVWR of more than 26,000 lbs. used to transport agricultural products; military vehicles operated by military personnel; emergency vehicles such as fire trucks engaged in emergency operations; or personal vehicles up to 26,000 lbs. used to transport personal possessions or family members for non-commercial purposes.
Drivers with CDLs in New York are subject to certain restrictions, and violations of these restrictions may result in suspension or revocation of the CDL. Even out-of-state violations may have serious consequences for CDL holders.
Certain moving violations will result in the suspension of CDL privileges. Such violations include operating a commercial vehicle at a speed of 15 mph over the limit, changing lanes illegally, tailgating, driving recklessly, operating a commercial vehicle without the proper CDL, and causing an accident that results in a fatality. Other violations include running a red light, not observing a stop sign or failing to yield. Even though some of these violations may seem minor, given the weight of the vehicle and the severe consequences of an accident, New York insists commercial drivers diligently follow all driving rules.
Fines and points are levied against CDL holders who violate driving laws. For example, a driver who exceeds the posted speed by 15 mph may face an average fine between $60 and $200 and at least four points or more. These additional points on your driving record may increase your insurance rate.
Convictions on these violations also may result in license suspension. A CDL will be pulled for a period of 60 days if you are convicted of two or more serious traffic violations within a 3-year period. If three or more violations, the suspension period is extended to 120 days.
Even if a traffic violation occurs out-of-state, you face penalties in New York. Failure to report a conviction on an out-of-state traffic violation is also a violation.
Specific CDL violations may also result in penalties. These include the following:
These violations may result in one and a half points against you.
Upon your first DUI conviction, you face license suspension for a year if your blood alcohol content (BAC) was 0.04 percent or above at the time of the occurrence. This is true whether the vehicle was a commercial or non-commercial vehicle. Even if the BAC was under 0.04, upon conviction, your CDL privileges will be suspended for 1 year. If the alcohol or drug violation occurred while you were transporting hazardous material, the suspension is a minimum of 3 years. A second offense results in lifetime revocation of CDL privileges.
As noted above, penalties for violations may be very severe. For certain violations, it does not matter if the violations occurred in the commercial vehicle or a regular car. Convictions for out-of-state traffic violations must be reported and will become part of your record. Multiple convictions within a 2- or 3-year period increase the suspension time. Additionally drivers only get a second DUI offense before all CDL privileges are revoked. In addition to suspension or revocation of your license, a spotty driving record makes you less employable as companies are hesitant to hire drivers who have proven to be a problem.
Pleading guilty on a minor ticket may seem an option, but if you plead not guilty, you can fight any tickets or charges. Since the loss of your CDL is the loss of your livelihood, it is a smart move to hire an aggressive attorney. An experienced attorney may know changes in the law that can aid your defense or will investigate the circumstances of your stop/arrest to ensure that your rights were not violated. Even such factors as a Breathalyzer not properly calibrated can aid in your defense. An attorney might also keep an arrest off your driving record which might impede future employment. Talk with a traffic violation attorney right away to defend against your charges.