Commercial Driver's License Defense

Protect Your Driving Privileges in Jacksonville, FL

Commercial drivers license holders have the most to lose when they are cited with a traffic ticket. In most cases, CDL driver, in addition to facing potential points on their license, also face complications or even job loss. This is why most of the traffic ticket trials our Jacksonville criminal defense lawyers handle are for CDL drivers. Remember, in Florida the only way to get a traffic ticket dismissed is to take it to a trial. If you want points withheld (and CDL drivers are finally entitled to do this!), that does not require a trial, but a hearing in most counties.

Call The Law Offices of Kate Mesic at (904) 615-8950 to discuss your matter today.

Below is a summary of traffic law that applies to CDL drivers. Every CDL driver should be aware of this and understand their options when it comes to a traffic ticket. Please note that this is not just Florida law but Federal law as well. Even if Florida law will not disqualify you, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration can.

Disqualification of a Commercial Driver License

Disqualification of a commercial driver license can result from any of three classes of offenses: (1) Major offenses, (2) serious traffic offenses, or (3) railroad-highway grade crossing offenses.

Major offenses:

  • Driving under the influence
  • Refusal to take blood/breath alcohol test
  • Conviction for any other alcohol-related traffic offense
  • Leaving the scene of an accident
  • Any felony involving a motor vehicle
  • Negligent homicide while operating a commercial motor vehicle
  • Driving a commercial vehicle with a revoked license

Penalties include 1-year disqualification (or 3 years if Hazmat certified driver) for a first violation. For a second violation, you may get a lifetime disqualification.

Serious Traffic Violations:

  • Speeding at least 15mph over the limit
  • Reckless driving
  • Improper lane change
  • Following too closely
  • Driving a commercial vehicle without a CDL
  • Not possessing one’s CDL
  • Incorrect class/endorsement on CDL
  • Any conviction for a violation when involved in a fatal accident

Penalties for a first violation is a mere warning. A second violation leads to a 60-day disqualification if both violations were within 3 years. A third violation can result in a 120-day disqualification.

Railroad-Highway Grade Crossing Violations:

  • Failure to slow down or stop at railroad crossing
  • Failure to obey a traffic control device (crossing arm)
  • Failure to ensure proper undercarriage clearance

Penalties for a first violation is a 60-day disqualification. A second violation leads to a 120-day disqualification if both violations were within 3 years of each other. Finally, a third violation may result in a 1-year disqualification if all three violations occurred within 3 years.

New Rules for CDL Holders & CLP Holders

On December 18, 2015, the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles implemented new rules for processing traffic tickets for commercial driver license (CDL) holders and commercial learner permit (CLP) holders. They basically went back to what the rule was before – bottom line judges and hearing officers can now withhold points for CDL Drivers. These rules apply to the traffic tickets as early as January 1, 2016.

If the Court Withholds Adjudication for a CDL Driver

The outcome of the traffic ticket hearing (also called “disposition”) will be added to the commercial driver license holder’s history and transcript with the phrase “ADJ WITHHELD BY JUDGE with CONV-FED Purposes Only.” This outcome will be considered a conviction for federal purposes, but points will not be assessed for Florida CDL drivers; however, you must look at disqualifying offenses listed above because, it will go through the disqualification process and may count toward disqualification even though adjudication was withheld. The disposition will also be reported to other states through the Commercial Driver License Information System (CDLIS) as a conviction.

Can CDL Drivers Exercise a Driving School Election?

The State of Florida does not provide this option to drivers who hold a CDL or CLP or who were driving a commercial vehicle. If the State receives a school election disposition for any CDL driver of CLP driver, the disposition will be converted to “guilty” and posted to the CDL driver’s history. So, basically if you elect school as a CDL driver, you are pleading guilty and will receive points. Don't do this!

If you are in that situation and elected traffic school as a CDL driver, please know there are options. There are ways our Jacksonville criminal defense attorney can still go in and set aside the ticket and work towards a withhold of points. This also depends on how old is the ticket.

Call (904) 615-8950 for a free legal consultation with a Jacksonville defense lawyer.

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