CDL Traffic Tickets in New York

If you are a commercial driver’s license (CDL) holder, you know that your CDL is your ticket to work, the key to ensuring your family’s financial security, and that any traffic ticket you get can compromise your ability to work and put food on the table.

The State of New York holds CDL drivers to a higher standard than the average driver. Accordingly, CDL drivers are subjected to various restrictions and violating them can result in the suspension—and even revocation—of your commercial driver’s license (VTL 510-a).

Background Information

You will need a CDL if you drive a commercial motor vehicle. The State of New York defines a commercial motor vehicle as:

  • A single vehicle with a gross weight rating of 26,001 pounds or more
  • A trailer with a gross weight rating of 26,001 pounds or more
  • A vehicle designed to transport 16 or more occupants (including the driver) or a bus
  • Any vehicle that requires hazardous material placards

Remember, driving a commercial motor vehicle without a CDL is a crime in New York and you could face a $5,000 fine or even go to jail.

Under the Commercial Motor Vehicle Safety Act of 1986, it is illegal for you to have more than one driver’s license of any kind. If you originally had a regular NY driver’s license and now have a CDL, you must surrender your old regular license. Failing to do so could result in a $5,000 fine and even jail time.

Do not think you can get away with it if you travel to another state: all 50 states share information about CDL drivers with one another. If you have two licenses, they will find out.

Several moving violations can result in the suspension of your CDL. Some of them include:

  • Being the cause of an accident that leads to a fatality
  • Failing to yield and/or to stop at a stop sign
  • Having a blood alcohol content (BAC) level of more than .04%
  • Leaving the scene of an accident
  • Operating a commercial vehicle without the proper CDL
  • Reckless driving
  • Refusing to take a breathalyzer test
  • Running a red light
  • Speeding 15 mph or more over the posted limit [VTL 1180(g)]
  • Tailgating
  • Unsafe or illegal lane change
  • Violating the New York Transportation Law/Regulations (weight, size and emissions)

In addition, many CDL offenses (e.g. logbook violations) are crimes. If convicted you will not only risk losing your job but also have a permanent criminal record and you could even go to jail.

Likewise, if your vehicle is overweight and you do not have a CDL, this could lead to a CDL violation.

There is no question that there is a lot at stake if you receive a NY traffic ticket as a CDL holder. That’s where we come in. The traffic ticket attorneys at The Rosenblum Law Firm have years of experience handling traffic ticket cases of all varieties, especially CDL violations.

We will guide you every step of the way through the process and help you get the results you are looking for. We will fight hard to preserve your rights and livelihood.

CLICK HERE - Official Text of New York's CDL Law

Official Text of New York’s CDL Law

Although there are many laws that mention CDL drivers, the following statute is the most relevant for CDL license suspensions and revocations.

New York Vehicle and Traffic Law 510-a. Suspension and Revocation of Commercial Driver’s Licenses.

1. Revocation.

A commercial driver’s license shall be revoked by the commissioner whenever the holder is convicted within or outside of this state (a) of a felony involving the use of a motor vehicle except a felony as described in paragraph (b) of this subdivision; (b) of a felony involving manufacturing, distributing or dispensing a drug as defined in section one hundred fourteen-a of this chapter or possession of any such drug with intent to manufacture, distribute or dispense such drug in which a motor vehicle was used; (c) of a violation of subdivision one or two of section six hundred of this chapter; (d) of operating a commercial motor vehicle when, as a result of prior violations committed while operating a commercial motor vehicle, the driver’s commercial driver’s license is revoked, suspended, or canceled, or the driver is disqualified from operating a commercial motor vehicle; (e) or has been convicted of causing a fatality through the negligent operation of a commercial motor vehicle, including but not limited to the crimes of vehicular manslaughter or criminally negligent homicide.

2. Duration of revocation.

(a) Except as otherwise provided in paragraph (b) of this subdivision, where revocation of a commercial driver’s license is mandatory pursuant to paragraph (a), (c), (d) or (e) of subdivision one of this section no new commercial driver’s license shall be issued for at least one year nor thereafter except in the discretion of the commissioner, except that if such person has previously been found to have refused a chemical test pursuant to section eleven hundred ninety-four of this chapter or has a prior conviction of any of the following offenses: any violation of section eleven hundred ninety-two of this chapter, any violation of subdivision one or two of section six hundred of this chapter, or any felony involving the use of a motor vehicle pursuant to paragraph (a) of subdivision one of this section, or has been convicted of operating a commercial motor vehicle when, as a result of prior violations committed while operating a commercial motor vehicle, the driver’s commercial driver’s license is revoked, suspended, or canceled, or the driver is disqualified from operating a commercial motor vehicle, or has been convicted of causing a fatality through the negligent operation of a commercial motor vehicle, including but not limited to the crimes of vehicular manslaughter or criminally negligent homicide, then such commercial driver’s license revocation shall be permanent.

(b) Where revocation is mandatory pursuant to paragraph (a), (c), (d) or (e) of subdivision one of this section and the commercial motor vehicle was transporting hazardous materials, no new commercial driver’s license shall be issued for at least three years nor thereafter except in the discretion of the commissioner, except that if such person has previously been found to have refused a chemical test pursuant to section eleven hundred ninety-four of this chapter or has a prior conviction of any of the following offenses: any violation of section eleven hundred ninety-two of this chapter, any violation of subdivision one or two of section six hundred of this chapter, or any felony involving the use of a motor vehicle pursuant to paragraph (a) of subdivision one of this section, or been convicted of operating a commercial motor vehicle when, as a result of prior violations committed while operating a commercial motor vehicle the driver’s commercial driver’s license is revoked, suspended, or canceled, or the driver is disqualified from operating a commercial motor vehicle, or has been convicted of causing a fatality through the negligent operation of a commercial motor vehicle, including but not limited to the crimes of vehicular manslaughter or criminally negligent homicide, then such commercial driver’s license revocation shall be permanent.

(c) The permanent commercial driver’s license revocation required by paragraphs (a) and (b) of this subdivision may be waived by the commissioner after a period of ten years has expired from such sentence provided:

(i) that during such ten year period such person has not been found to have refused a chemical test pursuant to section eleven hundred ninety-four of this chapter and has not been convicted of any one of the following offenses: any violation of section eleven hundred ninety-two of this chapter, any violation of subdivision one or two of section six hundred of this chapter, or any felony involving the use of a motor vehicle pursuant to paragraph (a) of subdivision one of this section, or has been convicted of operating a commercial motor vehicle when, as a result of prior violations committed while operating a commercial motor vehicle, the driver’s commercial driver’s license is revoked, suspended, or canceled, or the driver is disqualified from operating a commercial motor vehicle; or has been convicted of causing a fatality through the negligent operation of a commercial motor vehicle, including but not limited to the crimes of vehicular manslaughter or criminally negligent homicide;

(ii) if any of the grounds upon which the permanent commercial driver’s license revocation is based involved a finding of refusal to submit to a chemical test pursuant to section eleven hundred ninety-four of this chapter or a conviction of a violation of any subdivision of section eleven hundred ninety-two of this chapter, that such person provides acceptable documentation to the commissioner that such person has enrolled in and successfully completed an appropriate rehabilitation program; and

(iii) after such documentation, if required, is accepted, that such person is granted a certificate of relief from disabilities or a certificate of good conduct pursuant to article twenty-three of the correction law by the court in which such person was last penalized.

(d) Upon a third finding of refusal and/or conviction of any of the offenses which require a permanent commercial driver’s license revocation, such permanent revocation may not be waived by the commissioner under any circumstances.

(e) Where revocation is mandatory pursuant to paragraph (b) of subdivision one of this section such revocation shall be permanent and may not be waived by the commissioner under any circumstances.

3. Suspension.

(a) A commercial driver’s license shall be suspended by the commissioner for a period of sixty days where the holder is convicted of two serious traffic violations as defined in subdivision four of this section committed within a three year period, in separate incidents whether such convictions occurred within or outside of this state.

(b) A commercial driver’s license shall be suspended by the commissioner for a period of one hundred twenty days where the holder is convicted of three serious traffic violations as defined in subdivision four of this section committed within a three year period, in separate incidents whether such convictions occurred within or outside of this state. Such suspension shall take effect upon the termination of any other suspension already in effect pursuant to paragraph (a) of this subdivision or this paragraph.

(c) A commercial drivers license shall be suspended by the commissioner for a period of sixty days where the holder is convicted of a violation of subdivision (g) of section eleven hundred eighty of this chapter, and (i) the recorded or entered speed upon which the conviction was based exceeded the applicable speed limit by more than twenty miles per hour or (ii) the recorded or entered speed upon which the conviction was based exceeded the applicable speed limit by more than ten miles per hour and the vehicle was either (A) in violation of any rules or regulations involving an out-of-service defect relating to brake systems, steering components and/or coupling devices, or (B) transporting flammable gas, radioactive materials or explosives.

(d) A commercial driver’s license shall be suspended by the commissioner:

(i) for a period of one hundred eighty days where the holder was found to have operated a commercial motor vehicle designed or used to transport property as defined in subparagraphs (i) and (ii) of paragraph (a) of subdivision four of section five hundred one-a of this title, in violation of an out-of-service order as provided for in the rules and regulations of the department of transportation whether such violation was committed within this state or was the same or a similar violation involving an out-of-service order committed outside of this state;

(ii) for a period of two years if, during any ten-year period, the holder is found to have committed two such violations not arising from the same incident whether such violations were committed within or outside of the state;

(iii) for a period of three years if, during any ten-year period, the holder is convicted of three or more such violations not arising from the same incident whether such violations were committed within or outside of the state;

(iv) for a period of one hundred eighty days if the holder is found to have operated a commercial motor vehicle designed or used to transport passengers or property as defined in subparagraphs (iii) and (v) of paragraph (a) of subdivision four of section five hundred one-a of this title, in violation of an out-of-service order, as provided for in the rules and regulations of the department of transportation, while transporting hazardous materials or passengers whether such violation was committed within this state or was the same or a similar violation committed outside of this state;

(v) for a period of three years if, during any ten-year period, the holder is found to have committed two or more violations, not arising from the same incident, of operating a commercial motor vehicle designed or used to transport passengers or property as defined in subparagraphs (iii) and (v) of paragraph (a) of subdivision four of section five hundred one-a of this title, in violation of an out-of-service order, as provided for in the rules and regulations of the department of transportation, while transporting hazardous materials or passengers whether such violation was committed within this state or was the same or a similar violation involving an out-of-service order committed outside of this state.

(e) A commercial driver’s license shall be suspended by the commissioner:

(i) for a period of sixty days where the holder is convicted of a violation of section eleven hundred seventy-one or section eleven hundred seventy-six of this chapter whether such violation was committed within this state or was the same or a similar violation involving railroad grade crossings committed outside of this state.

(ii) for a period of one hundred twenty days where the holder is convicted of a second violation of section eleven hundred seventy-one or section eleven hundred seventy-six of this chapter whether such violations were committed within or outside of this state, both of which were committed within a three year period.

(iii) for a period of one year where the holder is convicted of a third violation of section eleven hundred seventy-one or section eleven hundred seventy-six of this chapter whether such violations were committed within or outside of this state, all of which were committed within a three year period.

4. Serious traffic violations.

(a) A serious traffic violation shall mean operating a commercial motor vehicle in violation of any provision of this chapter or the laws of any other state, the District of Columbia or any Canadian province which (i) limits the speed of motor vehicles, provided the violation involved fifteen or more miles per hour over the established speed limit; (ii) is defined as reckless driving by state or local law or regulation; (iii) prohibits improper or erratic lane change; (iv) prohibits following too closely; (v) relates to motor vehicle traffic (other than parking, standing or stopping) and which arises in connection with a fatal accident; (vi) operating a commercial motor vehicle without first obtaining a commercial driver’s license as required by section five hundred one of this title; (vii) operating a commercial motor vehicle without a commercial driver’s license in the driver’s possession; or (viii) operating a commercial motor vehicle without the proper class of commercial driver’s license and/or endorsement for the specific vehicle being operated or for the passengers or type of cargo being transported.

(b) Whether any specific violation which occurs without this state is a serious violation shall be dependent upon whether the state or province in which the violation occurs, reports such violation to the commissioner as, or deems it to be, a serious traffic violation under the provisions of the federal commercial motor vehicle safety act of nineteen hundred eighty-six, public law 99-570, title XII [FN1] or the motor carrier safety improvement act of 1999, public law 106-159 and regulations promulgated thereunder.

4-a. Dismissal.

The court shall dismiss any charge of operating a commercial motor vehicle without a commercial driver’s license in the driver’s possession if, between the date the driver is charged with such violation and the appearance date for such violation, the driver supplies the court with proof that he or she held a valid commercial driver’s license on the date of such violation. Such driver must also supply such proof to the law enforcement authority that issued the citation, prior to such driver’s appearance in court.

5. Limitation of effect of revocation or suspension.

Any revocation or suspension of a commercial driver’s license issued pursuant to this section shall be applicable only to that portion of the holder’s driver’s license or privilege which permits the operation of commercial motor vehicles, and the commissioner shall immediately issue a license, other than a commercial driver’s license, to such person, provided that such person is otherwise eligible to receive such license and further provided that issuing a license to such person does not create a substantial traffic safety hazard.

6. Application of section to persons not holding a commercial driver’s license.

Whenever a person who is not the holder of a commercial driver’s license issued by the commissioner is convicted of a violation arising out of the operation of a commercial motor vehicle which would require the mandatory revocation or suspension of a commercial driver’s license pursuant to this section or clause (i) or (ii) of subparagraph five of paragraph (b) or clause b of subparagraph three of paragraph (e) of subdivision two of section eleven hundred ninety-three, or clause c of subparagraph one of paragraph (d) of subdivision two of section eleven hundred ninety-four of this chapter, the privilege of such person to operate a commercial motor vehicle and/or to obtain a commercial driver’s license issued by the commissioner will be suspended or revoked for the same periods of time and subject to the same conditions provided in this section, or clause (i) or (ii) of subparagraph five of paragraph (b) or clause b of subparagraph three of paragraph (e) of subdivision two of section eleven hundred ninety-three, or clause c of subparagraph one of paragraph (d) of subdivision two of section eleven hundred ninety-four of this chapter, which would be applicable to the holder of a commercial driver’s license.

7. Other revocation or suspension action not prohibited.

The provisions of this section shall not be construed to prevent any person who has the authority to suspend or revoke a license to drive or privilege of operating pursuant to section five hundred ten of this chapter from exercising any such authority based upon a conviction for which suspension or revocation of a commercial driver’s license by the commissioner is mandated.

8. Disqualifications based upon record review.

(a) Where the commissioner conducts a state record review pursuant to section 384.206 of title 49 of the code of federal regulations and he or she determines that: (i) a person applying for a commercial driver’s license was convicted outside of this state of an offense set forth in section 383.51 of title 49 of the code of federal regulations while holding a commercial driver’s license issued by another state; and (ii) such other state failed to impose the commercial driver’s license disqualification, suspension or revocation set forth in section 383.51 of title 49 of the code of federal regulations for such offense, then the commissioner shall immediately suspend such person’s commercial driver’s license or privilege of operating a commercial motor vehicle. Provided, however, that where such licenses would have been subject to revocation upon a conviction for such conduct had it occurred in this state, the commissioner shall revoke such license. Such suspension or revocation shall be for the applicable period of time set forth for a conviction for such offense in such section 383.51 as it existed on the date of the violation.

(b) Any suspension or revocation of a commercial driver’s license issued pursuant to paragraph (a) of this subdivision shall be applicable only to that portion of the holder’s driver’s license or privilege which permits the operation of commercial motor vehicles, and the commissioner shall immediately issue a license, other than a commercial driver’s license, to such person provided that such person is otherwise eligible to receive such license and further provided that issuing a license to such person does not create a substantial traffic safety hazard.

 

Common Defenses to CDL Violations

In many cases, it will be nearly impossible for a driver to avoid the sting of a CDL violation without the help of a skilled traffic ticket attorney.

The following defense usually proves successful when implemented by attorneys. If it can be clearly established that a CDL driver did not receive notice of the fact that failing to submit to a breathalyzer test would result in a license suspension and that the driver would have submitted to such a test had he known, there is a good chance that a prosecutor will take the suspension off the table.

However, it is worth noting that enough evidence needs to be proffered in order to ensure that this argument is air-tight. Otherwise, a prosecutor will not be apt to take away the suspension and will try to make a “constructive notice” rejoinder. This means he will argue that you should have known given the circumstances you were in.

Case Law Analysis

According to Brady v. Dept. of Motor Vehicles, 778 NE 2d 532, your driver’s license can be suspended or revoked for any VTL violation so long as your conduct amounted to “gross negligence,” and a court conviction is not necessary for the revocation or suspension to result.

However, a judge cannot capriciously or haphazardly suspend your license. He or she must ground the suspension in New York law. Consequently, what oftentimes happens is the judge concludes that your conduct rose to a level serious enough to warrant the suspension (i.e. “gross negligence” in violation of VTL 510-3e).

This proves quite scary for CDL license holders. Although it is done quite rarely, a judge has the discretion to call your conduct “gross negligence” and slap you with a suspension even if the VTL you originally were ticketed for could not bring about a suspension. (See Matter of Barnes v Tofany, 27 NY2d 74).

The reason gross negligence could be ascribed to a CDL driver is because of the higher standard of care that the law attributes to you. The law presumes that those who are driving passengers and/or cargo should be held to a higher standard of scrutiny than a regular driver.

Therefore, when a CDL holder drives erratically or extremely negligently, a judge will be given the discretion to take that driver’s license away.

What does all this mean for you as a CDL driver? It is in your best interest to hire an attorney who can successfully negotiate with the prosecutor before you even have to worry about going before a judge who could suspend your license.

Who Should You Contact?

If you are a CDL driver and received a NY traffic ticket, your livelihood might be at stake. The Rosenblum Law Firm has a successful track record of fighting CDL cases and getting our clients the results they want. Call the Rosenblum Law Firm today at 888-883-5529.