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.
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:
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.
A CDL license will be suspended for one year or more on a first offense if the driver:
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.
In addition, you may be ticketed or fined for:
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.