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).
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)]
- 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.
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.