Oklahoma CDL Traffic Violations: Commercial License Issues

The Oklahoma Commercial Driver's License (CDL) is a specialty driver's license for those driving a commercial motor vehicle (CMV). A CMV is defined by federal law and includes trucks or other large vehicles or combinations of vehicles weighing more than 26,000 pounds, any vehicle able to carry 16 or more passengers, buses or vehicles transporting hazardous materials. You must pass a comprehensive written test in addition to a road test to earn the CDL.

Adhering to federal and state laws on driving, vehicle and trailer loading, record keeping and many other CDL specific laws is necessary in order to keep the CDL. The rules are more stringent than rules for automobile drivers in many cases.

Following are the major CDL specific laws and regulations. You should consult Oklahoma's 2005 Commercial Driver's License Manual and the rules and regulations issued by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration's in the Commercial Carrier Code for more detailed information.

Moving Violations

Federal law imposes a duty of care on any person in possession of a CDL. The duty of care establishes an obligation to follow all road laws and to never act in a way that endangers the lives or property of others. There is a list of what are called "serious violations" that will lead to a license suspension or loss of license. Serious violations are:

  • Failing to obtain and have in possession a valid CDL
  • Speeding more than 15 miles over the speed limit
  • Following another vehicle too closely
  • Reckless driving
  • Unsafe or erratic lane changes

A first offense will lead to a fine. A second offense within a three-year time period will lead to a 60-day license suspension. A third offense within a three-year time period will lead to a 120-day license suspension.

Oklahoma has a points system for certain driving offenses. The CDL penalties just described are more stringent than those for a personal driver's license, but points apply to both the personal license and the CDL. One point is the penalty for operating a defective vehicle. You will be penalized two points for speeding, failing to stop at a stop sign or traffic light, or failing to yield a right of way. You are penalized three points for speeding more than 25 mph (personal auto) over the posted limit. Four points are given for reckless driving and failing to stop for a school bus. An accumulation of 10 or more points within five years will lead to a license suspension.

CDL Specific Violations

A CDL license will be suspended for one year or more on a first offense if the driver:

  • Knowingly leaves the scene of an accident while driving a CMV
  • Uses a CMV for the commission of a felony
  • Drives a CMV without a valid CDL in force
  • Is negligent while driving and a manslaughter homicide occurs

The CDL will be suspended for three years or more for a second offense of any of the listed charges.

There are also separate laws concerning railroad crossing offenses. A CDL holder is required to obey all railroad crossing signs, stop or slow down at a crossing, and to never stop on the tracks.

A first offense will lead to a 60-day suspension of driving privileges (out-of-service order). A second offense within three years will lead to a 120-day license suspension. A third offense within three years will lead to a license disqualification for one year.

Violating an out of service order will result in the following penalties.

  • 1st offense – 90-day suspension
  • 2nd offense within 10 years – 1-year suspension
  • 3rd offense within 10 years – 3-year disqualification

In addition, you may be ticketed or fined for:

  • Exceeding the legal truck weight
  • Running a red light
  • Driving without insurance
  • Driving a truck that is over length or width
  • Failing to placard a hazardous materials truck on all four sides
  • Loading cargo in a way that creates a hazard or not securing cargo properly
  • Overloading the truck and/or trailer based on current state maximums for gross vehicle weight, gross combination and/or axle weight
  • Violation of logbook record keeping requirements per the Commercial Motor Vehicle Safety Act of 1986 (CMVSA/1986)
  • Failure to follow federal Hours of Service limits

The CMVSA/1986 requires a logbook as the record of duty to be current for the previous six days and the day of examination at any time. The driver is expected to comply with the Hours of Service limits defined by federal law.

The law in Oklahoma requires the CDL holder to notify his or her employer within 30 days of a traffic violation conviction. In addition, if you get a traffic ticket in another state, you are required to inform your employer and the Oklahoma Department of Motor Vehicles.

DUI Charges

At the time you qualify for a CDL, you are also agreeing to take a blood alcohol test if an officer requests it. Anyone operating a vehicle with a Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) of .04 or higher is considered to be driving under the influence (DUI).

The CDL will be suspended for one year or more if the driver:

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

The CDL will be suspended for three years or more for a second offense of any of the listed charges. The CDL license will be suspended for life if the driver is convicted of a felony involving a controlled substance, if the felony act occurred while operating a CMV.

Impact on Commercial Drivers License

In addition to the penalties described, a CDL will be suspended or revoked if you are convicted of a violation of traffic control laws while driving your personal vehicle and the conviction leads to a suspension or revocation of your personal vehicle driver's license. If the charge is a DUI, you will lose your CDL for a period of one year if your personal license is suspended or revoked. It it's a second violation in your personal vehicle, your CDL is revoked for life.

Options for Defense

It is critical to consult with an attorney whenever you are ticketed or charged with a misdemeanor or felony, because the CDL represents your livelihood. It is often necessary to deal with the courts and the Department of Public Safety Motor Vehicle Division. You can plead guilty, not guilty or nolo contendere. Nolo contendere means you are not pleading guilty or not guilty, but the Oklahoma Department of Public Safety court can actually treat a nolo contendere as if you are pleading guilty, putting your CDL license at risk of suspension or revocation. Though you always have the right of appeal, you only have 15 days from an arrest to request an administrative hearing with the DMV.

An attorney experienced in CDL offenses can work to have your charges dismissed or to obtain a lesser charge. There are also situations in which the attorney can get approval for you to obtain a modified driver's license should you be facing conviction and suspension or revocation of your CDL.

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