The Rhode Island Commercial Driver's License (CDL) is a special license that gives you permission to drive a commercial motor vehicle or combination of vehcicles including semi-trucks and trailers weighing more than 26,000 pounds, buses, any vehicle capable of carrying 16 or more passengers, or vehicles transporting hazardous materials. You must pass rigorous written and road tests to earn the CDL and then adhere to all federal and state laws in order to keep it.
Unlike many other states, Rhode Island does not use a point system, but it does vigorously enforce the CDL laws. Drivers must comply with the Commercial Motor Vehicle Safety Act of 1986 and Rhode Island laws. Though the federal government has established safety regulations for states, only the state can actually issue the CDL.
CDL traffic violation penalties can be severe and some, like the DUI laws, are stricter than equivalent laws for operating an auto. Following are the major CDL specific laws and regulations concerning the CDL. You should consult Rhode Island's Commercial Driver's License Manual and the rules and regulations issued by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration in the Commercial Carrier Code for more detailed information.
Serious moving violations will lead to penalties. Serious moving violations are defined as:
You will lose your CDL license for a period of time if any of the following conditions exist:
You will lose your CDL license for a minimum of one year if you:
You will lose your CDL for three years if driving a CMV approved for transporting hazardous materials and you commit the listed offenses. If it's a second offense, you will lose your license for life. A conviction for committing a felony that involves controlled substances will lead to a permanent loss of the CDL.
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.
In Rhode Island, some bridges have a maximum posted weight limit for trucks. Crossing the bridge when the truck is overweight can lead to a $3,000 fine for a first offense and $5,000 for a second offense.
The law in Rhode Island 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 Rhode Island Department of Motor Vehicles.
Rhode Island has strict DUI laws. You give your consent to alcohol testing by operating a commercial motor vehicle (CMV). You will lose your CDL license for a minimum of one year if you:
If you are convicted of a DUI a second time, you will lose your CDL permanently. You will lose your CDL for three years if driving a CMV approved for transporting hazardous materials and you commit the listed offenses. If you take a breathalyzer test and there is a detectable amount of alcohol that is under .04 percent, you will lose your right to drive the CMV for 24 hours.
In addition to the penalties described, the law requires a CDL to be suspended or permanently revoked if the driver is convicted of serious moving violations as listed earlier while driving an automobile. If your regular driver's license is cancelled, suspended or revoked for a serious moving violation, you will also lose your CDL for 60 to 120 days.
You are only allowed to hold the Rhode Island CDL. You cannot be licensed out of state. If you are found to have multiple licenses, you can be fined an amount up to $5,000 or you can be given jail time and lose all your licenses.
A commercial truck driver should contact an attorney as soon as possible if faced with a substantial penalty for moving violations or CDL specific violations. You can plead guilty, not guilty or nolo contendere (no contest) in Rhode Island. If you plead not guilty, the attorney can attempt to have the charge dismissed based on the evidence or circumstances. This will prevent an offense being recorded against your CDL license. In some cases, even when guilty, the fine can be reduced.