Commercial Drivers Defense

No driver likes getting pulled over for an alleged traffic offense. But for commercial drivers, the stakes are very high.

Commercial drivers are typically held to a higher standard under Florida law, and penalties for violations are severe. The risk goes beyond the loss of money for fines or a stain on your driving record. Your job may be in jeopardy. Your career could be on the line.

You need to fight these traffic charges.

At The Ansara Law Firm, our Fort Lauderdale Commercial Drivers Defense Attorneys will work to protect your license – and your livelihood. In many cases, particularly when the citation is issued to an out-of-state driver, our lawyers can appear on your behalf so you don’t have to return to Florida for court.

Our attorneys have in-depth knowledge of the specific state and federal laws and regulations applicable to drivers of trucks, delivery vans, taxis and buses. We work to defend professional drivers against a range of traffic offenses, including:

  • Speeding tickets;
  • Drunk driving;
  • Racing;
  • Careless driving
  • Log book violations;
  • Truck lane violations;
  • Overweight load violations;
  • Illegal tag violations;
  • Failure to stop;
  • Driving on a suspended license;
  • Following too closely;
  • Stop sign/ red light violations;
  • Reckless driving;
  • Railroad crossing violations;
  • Equipment violations.

If you possess a commercial driver’s license and are cited for a traffic offense, a guilty plea could immediately and directly halt your professional prospects.

We recognize that with an aggressive defense, many of these charges may be reduced or even dismissed. If an opportunity exists to negotiate a favorable resolution with prosecutors, we’ll help you identify and take advantage of it. However, we are prepared to fight in court if necessary.

Higher Standards for Commercial Drivers

Commercial drivers in Florida are held to a higher standard of conduct behind the wheel because, the thinking goes, they are responsible for larger vehicles and/ or human passengers. Thus, they need to be more cautious because there is greater potential for serious damage.

As the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV) spells out, commercial drivers have to pass certain testing to obtain certification, depending on the type of vehicle they drive.

  • Class A – For operation of trucks weighing 26,001 pounds or more and towing units over 10,000 pounds, drivers are required to pass a general knowledge test, combinations vehicle test, air brakes, pre-trip and basic skills test, CDL road test and applicable exams for desired endorsements.
  • Class B – For operation of straight trucks and buses 26,001 pounds or more, drivers are required to pass a general knowledge test, air brakes (if applicable), pre-trip and basic skills tests, CDL road tests and applicable exams for endorsements.
  • Class C – To operate vehicles transporting amounts of hazardous materials or those that carry more than 15 people (including the driver) or with a gross vehicle weight of less than 26,001 pounds, drivers need to pass a general knowledge test, air brakes (if applicable), pre-trip and basic skills tests, CDL road tests and applicable exams for endorsements.

Endorsements may be necessary for placarded hazmat vehicles, tank vehicles, passenger vehicles, school buses and double/ triple trailers.

CDL Disqualification for Traffic Violation

Commercial drivers in Florida can lose their commercial driver’s license on either a temporary or permanent basis for violation of traffic laws. Much of it depends on the severity of the violation. There are three basic types:

Major – First violation is one-year disqualification (or three years if the driver was transporting hazardous materials required to be placarded). A second violation is a lifetime disqualification, with possible reinstatement after 10 years, assuming certain conditions are met. Examples include:

  • Driving under the influence (BAC of 0.08 or higher).
  • Having a BAC of 0.04 or greater while operating a commercial vehicle.
  • Driving under the influence of a controlled substance.
  • Refusing to undergo an alcohol test per Florida’s implied consent regulations.
  • Leaving the scene of an accident.
  • Using a commercial vehicle to commit a felony.
  • Causing a fatality via negligent operation of a commercial vehicle.
  • Using a commercial vehicle to commit a felony of manufacturing, distributing or dispensing a controlled substance.

Serious – First violation generally will not result in disqualification. A second violation in three years will result in a 120-day disqualification, with each additional violation to be served consecutively.

  • Excessive speed of 15 mph or more above the posted speed.
  • Reckless driving.
  • Following too closely.
  • Driving a commercial vehicle without having actual possession of your CDL.
  • Driving a commercial vehicle without the proper class or endorsements for your vehicle type.

Railroad-Highway Grade Crossing – First violation is minimum 60 days’ disqualification. Second violation within three years is a minimum 120 days’ disqualification. Third and subsequent violations within three years will result in minimum one year of disqualification.

  • Driver fails to stop or slow down and ensure the tracks are clear.
  • Driver fails to obey a traffic control signal.
  • Driver fails to negotiate a crossing due to not having enough undercarriage clearance.

In addition to these, there are also CDL-specific violations that could result in federal-level penalties, which can range from license suspension to jail time. These include offenses like violation of grade restrictions (steepness) for his or her vehicle, falsifying log books (up to six months in jail) and driving a vehicle that’s overweight.

Personal Violations

Commercial drivers who are cited for traffic violations while they are operating their personal vehicles could also face penalties or disqualification of their commercial license. Some examples of personal violations that can result in commercial driver’s license penalties are:

  • Driver’s license to operate a personal vehicle is suspended, canceled or revoked and the cause was a serious speed violation. (60 to 120 days CDL suspension)
  • Driver’s license to operate a personal vehicle was revoked or suspended due to a DUI offense. (1 year CDL suspension)
  • Driver’s license to operate a personal vehicle was revoked or suspended due to a second alcohol-related conviction. (Lifetime revocation).

Bear in mind that if you receive a traffic citation for anything other than violation of a parking law, you have to disclose this to your employer within a month.

If you need assistance fighting your commercial driver’s license citation – or a personal traffic citation that threatens your commercial driver’s license – we can help.

Contact the experienced Fort Lauderdale criminal defense lawyers at The Ansara Law Firm by calling (954) 761-4011 or toll-free at (877)-ARREST-0 (277-3780).