How Traffic Violations Impact a Commercial Driver's License

From cargo semi-trucks and tractor-trailers to passenger busses and vehicles, a driver must possess a commercial driver’s license (CDL) to operate a commercial motor vehicle (CMV). Since these vehicles carry or transfer essential cargo or individuals, commercial drivers are subject to special driving regulations and harsher penalties for violations compared to drivers of regular passenger vehicles. 

There are two types of traffic offenses designated by the federal government: serious traffic violations and major violations. Each of these violations carries specific penalties that affect a driver’s CDL. 

Serious Traffic Violations 

If a commercial driver commits two serious traffic violations within a three-year period, his/her CDL will be revoked for a minimum of 60 days. Three violations within three years will result in CDL revocation for at least 120 days. 

According to federal law, common examples of serious traffic violations include: 

Major Traffic Violations 

If a commercial driver commits a major violation – even if it was committed in a non-CMV vehicle – his/her CDL will be revoked for a minimum of one year (unless the major violation involved a CMV transferring hazardous materials, then the revocation lasts at least three years.)  A second or subsequent violation is punishable by lifetime CDL disqualification. 

Common examples of major traffic violations include: 

  • DUI 

  • Chemical test refusal 

  • Leaving the scene of an accident (hit and run) 

  • Using a vehicle to commit a felony 

  • Driving a CMV with a revoked CDL 

  • Fleeing a law enforcement official 

  • Vehicular manslaughter 

Other Violations 

Not only are there standard traffic rules, but there are also additional “special rules,” specifically regarding temporary “out-of-service orders” and railroad crossings. Driving a CMV that is subject to an out-of-service order carries CDL revocation for between one year and five years, while failing to obey railroad signs or properly stop at a track can lead to CDL revocation for 60, 120, or 365 days. 

If you or a loved one has committed a traffic violation in New York City and risk losing the ability to drive a CMV, contact Stites Law today to discuss your case. Available 24/7!