Ohio CDL Traffic Violations: Commercial License Issues

In Ohio commercial drivers must possess a commercial driver's license (CDL) to operate certain commercial or weight-based vehicles. CDLs are tiered from Class A through Class C based on the type of vehicle. Class A vehicles are any combination of vehicles with a combined gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of 25,001 lbs. or more if the gross vehicle weight rating of the vehicle or vehicles being towed exceeds 10,000 lbs. A Class B CDL includes any single vehicle with a GVWR of 26,000 lbs. or more or any such vehicle towing a vehicle having a gross vehicle weight rating that is not in excess of 10,000 lbs. Class C CDLs include any single vehicle or combination of vehicles not included under Class A or B but designed to transport 16 or more passengers (including the driver); or used to transport hazardous materials in an amount that requires placarding. Class C also includes any school bus with a GVWR less than 26,001 lbs. designed to transport fewer than 16 passengers (including the driver).

Exemptions include farm vehicles, emergency vehicles, recreational vehicles and certain non-business commercial vehicles.

Section 4506.12 of Ohio's statutes governs CDL restrictions and endorsements, and violation of the statutes is classified as a misdemeanor of the first degree. Therefore CDL holders must stay within the confines of all traffic laws or face criminal penalties and administrative penalties such as fines, points on their records and license suspensions. In Ohio a misdemeanor of the first degree incurs jail time up to 180 days.

Moving Violations

CDL privileges may be revoked for conviction of certain traffic violations. For example, going over 15 mph in a commercial vehicle in Ohio is a serious traffic offense. Other serious violations include improper lane changes, reckless driving, tailgating, causing an accident that results in a fatality or violating any other rule designated by the U.S. Secretary of Transportation. Administrative violations include driving without a valid CDL or operating a commercial vehicle without the CDL on the driver or in the vehicle.

CDL Specific Violations

CDL penalties accrue for CDL-specific violations. Among these violations are the following:

  • Exceeding any weight limitations on specified roads and highways
  • Exceeding 55 mph while towing a trailer
  • Violating lane regulations
  • Failing to follow logbook regulations
  • Violating downhill grade restrictions

DUI Charges

Driving under the influence with a blood alcohol content of 0.04 percent incurs a 1-year suspension of CDL privileges, even if the vehicle was not commercial. This suspension extends to driving under a controlled substance other than alcohol. Refusing to submit to a breath or blood test also incurs a 1-year suspension. If the vehicle contained hazardous materials, the suspension increases to 3 years. A second conviction of any of the aforementioned in a commercial vehicle results in a lifetime revocation.

Impact on Your CDL

CDL violations, whether general violations or CDL-specific violations, may result in certain penalties. Two general traffic or moving violations within a 3-year period that involve a commercial vehicle will result in loss of CDL privileges for a minimum of 60 days. Three violations within a 3-year period involving a commercial vehicle extends the suspension to at least 120 days.

CDL holders may also lose privileges for these same violations if committed in personal vehicles.

In Ohio going from 11 to 29 mph over the posted speed limit (whether below or at 55 mph and above) is generally a two-point offense for drivers with a non-commercial driver's license. The Ohio DMV website does not offer a point system for this violation on a CDL.

Additionally failure to notify an employer or the court about any prior traffic convictions that occurred out of state is also a violation.

As noted under DUI Charges, two DUI convictions result in a lifetime revocation.

Options for Defense

Pleading guilty to a traffic violation can have a devastating effect on your livelihood. Accumulation of points may diminish your employability because companies are hesitant to hire drivers with a faulty driving record. Your insurance premiums will go up as your points accumulate. Not the least of your problems is the possibility of doing actual jail time. The best defense against these penalties is to hire a skilled attorney who will zealously fight against any tickets or traffic charges in court. A good attorney can investigate the case and find any factors that are in your favor. Talk to an attorney as soon as possible to discuss your case.

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