Commercial Driver License holders (CDL drivers) receive citations every day. Unfortunately, in Florida CDL drivers can no longer get a withhold of points, so they have to fight every ticket or pay it. The situation is worsened when a CDL driver receives a citation under Florida Statute 316.1576(2), namely “Insufficient clearance at a railroad-highway grade crossing.” This situation comes up when a CDL driver, for example, crosses the railroad and is not able to make it through, basically getting stuck. It is never intentional, and most of the time the CDL driver either did not see the signs for low clearance or the railroad was not clearly marked.
There are 3 rules that every CDL driver must follow when they are approaching a railroad crossing:
1. What law applies to CDL drivers and railroad crossings?
When a CDL driver gets cited and he has a Commercial Driver License, Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) also applies to the regulation of the CDL. In 2013, the Florida Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) published the Highway-Rail Grade Crossing: Safe Clearance Final Rule. This rule applies to any driver with a CDL in the United States.
In essence, no CDL driver operating a commercial motor vehicle may enter a railroad-highway crossing unless there is enough room and has sufficient undercarriage clearance to completely drive through the crossing without stopping. Violating this rule comes with harsh penalties and fines.
2. What are the fines for CDL drivers in violation of the railroad crossing statute?
If a commercial driver violates the Florida Statute 316.1576, both the employer AND the driver can face Federal Civil penalties. If a CDL driver is convicted for a railroad crossing violation, he can be subject to both civil and disqualification penalties. FMCSA provides that a violation of the above-mentioned rule can result in Federal civil penalties of up to $2,750 for drivers and up to $11,000 for employers who allow or require drivers to operate commercial motor vehicles onto a rail crossing without having enough room to clear the tracks completely without stopping.
3. Driver's license suspension that CDL drivers face
Federal law provides that CDL drivers, who are convicted of violating State traffic laws (in Florida 316.1576) concerning the failure to have sufficient space to clear the railroad tracks completely without stopping must be suspended for at least 60 days for a first offense, and 120 days for the second offense in a 3-year period, and 1 year for a third offense in a 3-year period.