Commercial Driver's License CDL Suspensions everything you need to know truckers wiki

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What are CDL Suspensions

Certain circumstances can lead to a CDL suspension, effectively halting a driver’s ability to legally operate a CMV. This article explores common reasons, implications, and processes surrounding CDL suspensions.

Reasons for CDL Suspension

CDL suspensions are primarily due to violations of traffic laws, though the specific reasons can vary. Some common reasons include:

  1. Serious Traffic Violations: These include speeding 15 mph or more above the limit, reckless driving, erratic lane changes, and any traffic violation involving a fatality.

  2. Driving Under the Influence (DUI): Operating a CMV with a Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) of 0.04% or more, or refusing to undergo alcohol testing. Remember that for a CDL holder, DUI regulations apply regardless of whether they’re driving a commercial or a personal vehicle.

  3. Drug Violations: Use of controlled substances while operating a CMV can result in a CDL suspension.

  4. Railroad-Highway Grade Crossing Violations: This includes violations such as failing to slow down or stop at a railroad crossing when required.

  5. Out-of-Service Order Violations: Operating a CMV during a period when the driver or vehicle has been declared “out of service” can lead to a suspension.

  6. Excessive Traffic Violations: Multiple serious traffic violations within a certain period can lead to a CDL suspension. Serious violations include excessive speeding (15 mph or more above the limit), reckless driving, improper or erratic lane changes, and following a vehicle too closely.

  7. Drug Violations: Use of controlled substances while operating a CMV is prohibited and can result in CDL suspension.

  8. Leaving the Scene of an Accident: If a driver involved in an accident leaves the scene without stopping and complying with reporting requirements, their CDL can be suspended.

  9. Railroad-Highway Grade Crossing Violations: Failing to stop or slow down at a railroad crossing when required can lead to suspension.

  10. Out-of-Service Order Violations: Operating a CMV during a period when the driver or vehicle has been declared “out of service” can result in suspension.

  11. Using a Vehicle in the Commission of a Felony: A CDL can be revoked if the driver uses any vehicle to commit a felony, including the manufacturing, distributing, or dispensing of a controlled substance.

  12. Negligent Operation Resulting in a Fatality: If a CDL holder’s negligent operation of a commercial vehicle results in a fatality, their CDL can be suspended.

  13. Violating Overweight Laws: Repeatedly violating state laws for carrying overweight loads can lead to a suspension.

  14. Failing to Pay Child Support: In some states, failing to comply with child support orders can lead to a CDL suspension.

  15. Failing to Meet Medical Standards: CDL drivers must meet certain medical standards, as defined by the FMCSA. Failing to meet these can result in suspension.

  16. Violation of Out-of-Service Orders: Violating out-of-service orders can lead to suspension of a CDL.

  17. Accumulation of Points: Some states use a point system for traffic violations. If a driver accumulates a certain number of points within a specific period, their CDL could be suspended.

  18. Failure to Appear or Pay Fines: Failing to appear in court or pay fines related to traffic violations can lead to a CDL suspension in some states.

  19. Failing a Drug or Alcohol Test: This includes failing a test conducted by an employer, even if it doesn’t result in a DUI charge.

  20. Traffic Violations in a Personal Vehicle: Even when not driving commercially, serious traffic violations or DUI charges in a personal vehicle could lead to CDL suspension.

  21. Failing to Notify Employer of a Conviction: Drivers are required to notify their employer of any traffic convictions within 30 days, regardless of the type of vehicle they were driving at the time of the violation.

Consequences of CDL Suspension

1. Inability to Operate a Commercial Vehicle Legally

First and foremost, a CDL suspension means you’re not legally permitted to operate a commercial motor vehicle (CMV). Driving a CMV while your CDL is suspended could lead to more severe penalties, including longer suspensions, hefty fines, and in some cases, even imprisonment.

2. Notification of Employer

You must notify your employer of the suspension immediately. Under FMCSA regulations, you are required to inform your employer of any traffic violations (except parking violations) within 30 days, regardless of the type of vehicle you were driving when the violation occurred. In case of a suspension, however, you should inform your employer right away.

3. Impact on Employment

The suspension of your CDL could affect your current employment status. Depending on your employer’s policies, a suspension might result in temporary reassignment to non-driving duties, loss of job, or difficulty finding employment in the trucking industry.

4. Record of Suspension

The suspension will be recorded on your driving record. Future employers conducting background checks will be able to see this suspension, which could affect your chances of securing a job that involves driving a CMV.

Dealing with a CDL Suspension

CDL Reinstatement

Once a suspension period is complete, drivers often must go through a reinstatement process. This usually involves paying a reinstatement fee and providing proof of future financial responsibility, often in the form of a SR-22 filing. Drivers may also need to retake CDL knowledge and skills tests.
Click hear to learn more about CDL reinstatement.
Progressive explaining SR-22.

Preventing CDL Suspension

The best strategy is to avoid behaviors that could lead to a CDL suspension. Adhere to all traffic laws, do not operate a CMV under the influence of alcohol or drugs, comply with all regulations concerning railroad crossings, and observe any out-of-service orders.

The list provided covers many of the main reasons a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) might be suspended or revoked, but it is not exhaustive. The exact circumstances that can lead to a CDL suspension can vary from state to state, as each state has its own specific regulations that can complement or go beyond federal regulations. Additionally, the reasons can change as laws and regulations are updated over time.

NOLO article on CDL restrictions.

Click here to learn more about CDL Reinstatement Process.

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