Pennsylvania CDL Traffic Violations: Commercial License Issues

If you, as a commercial driver, receive a speeding ticket, there will be points assessed to both your driving record and your CDL. Your CDL is essential to your livelihood, so you need to avoid traffic violations as much as possible. Additionally, points on your CDL will lead to greater insurance costs and can also lead to job loss, license suspension and massive fines.

Intro to CDL Laws and License Issues in Pennsylvania

You need a Commercial Driver's License (CDL) in the State of Pennsylvania if you want to operate the following types of vehicles:

  • A combination of vehicles with a combined weight of at least 26,001 pounds
  • A single vehicle that weighs at least 26,001 pounds
  • A vehicle that is designed to transport at least 16 passengers, including the driver
  • A school bus that is designed to carry at least 11 passengers, including the driver
  • Any size vehicle that transports hazardous materials and that is required to be placarded according to federal regulations
  • Any size vehicle that is used to transport material that requires hazardous materials placards or material that is listed as a select agent or toxin 42 CFR 73

There are three classes of CDLs in Pennsylvania: A, B and C. The differences in classes lies in the types of vehicles each class of CDL driver can drive. “A” drivers can drive the heaviest vehicles (26,001 pounds and more, plus a gross vehicle weight rating GVWR of more than 10,000 pounds), while “C” drivers can only drive the lightest vehicles (26,000 pounds and less).

Moving Violations

Moving violations, also known as “Serious Traffic Offenses,” can cause your CDL to be suspended if you obtain two or three within a three-year period. You usually have to commit the violation while driving your commercial motor vehicle (CMV) to have it apply to your CDL, but this is not always the case, as driving recklessly in your own vehicle or violating state or local laws regarding fatal accidents in your own vehicle can also lead to violations applying to your CDL.

CDL Specific Violations

If you are convicted of two moving violations within a three-year period, you will be disqualified from driving a commercial motor vehicle (CMV) for 60 days. If you are convicted of three moving violations within a three-year period, you will be disqualified from driving a CMV for 120 days.

If your CDL has been suspended, you cannot gain a “hardship” license to drive your CMV during the suspension. If you are convicted of a “major offense” for the first time, your CDL will be disqualified for one year (three years if you were transporting hazardous material). If you are convicted of a major offense for the second time, your CDL is disqualified for life.

DUI Charges

As mentioned, if you are convicted of a DUI charge for the first time, you'll lose your CDL for one year or for three years if you were transporting hazardous material. If you are convicted a second time, you lose your CDL for life.

Two important things for you to note are:

  • You are considered driving under the influence if your BAC level is .04 or above.
  • DUI charges apply whether you are driving your CMV or your personal vehicle.

Impact on Commercial Drivers License

If you have been convicted of a DUI charge for the first time, you can regain your CDL, but you need to do the following:

  • Pass both the CDL knowledge and driving tests
  • Pass a separate knowledge test to gain a hazardous materials endorsement. You may also be required to show a letter from the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) that you've passed their background check.
  • Pay the re-qualification fee.

If this is your second or subsequent DUI offense, you will lose your CDL for life.

Options for Defense

Drivers have the right to request a hearing and a subsequent appeal of a disqualification. It is important to challenge the DUI charge, even if it is your first offense; while you will likely be able to regain your CDL after your first DUI charge, most trucking companies are very hesitant to hire a driver who has one DUI charge on his record, so it's important to have the disqualification overturned if at all possible.

When to Talk to a Lawyer

If you are a CDL driver and are accused of a DUI, you could lose your ability to drive a commercial vehicle for one to three years for your first offense, severely hampering your livelihood. It is vital that you talk to a Pennsylvania DUI attorney immediately, who will know the specific Pennsylvania CDL laws that apply to your case and present the strongest possible case to overturn the disqualification and enable you to drive your commercial vehicle again.

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