Random CDL License Checks Upheld in Massachusetts

CDL License holders should be aware that the Mass. Appeals Court recently ruled that Massachusetts Police Officers can stop CDL vehicles to conduct random inspections which include Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) checks. See Commonwealth v. LeBoeuf (Decided October 8, 2010). Normally, police officers must have reasonable suspension that a driver committed a motor vehicle violation in order to stop the driver. However, when it comes to CDL vehicles, the rules are different. The court recognized that “Trucks operate twenty-four hours a day and the officers must, necessarily, have the authority to conduct these administrative inspections at any time.” These so-called administrative safety inspections can consist of not only a safety check of the CDL vehicle, but also a check of the CDL Driver’s license, medical certificate, and log book.

The Appeals Court determined that the random suspicion-less stops of trucks are permitted because the trucking industry is highly regulated and drivers must comply with Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations. 

In this case the CDL driver had a suspended driver’s license and he was arrested for the crime of Operating After Suspension. He argued that the random stop of his truck by a Framingham Police Officer was illegal. The court disagreed and ruled that Massachusetts police officers have the right to stop any CDL vehicle at anytime, even if the driver has not committed a traffic violation. This decision may lead an increase in random stops of CDL vehicles by police officers throughout Massachusetts. Drivers caught operating CDL vehicles without a proper license may be subject to prosecutions and additional license suspensions.

One final note, the officer here was a member of the police department’s “Truck Team,” and certified as an inspector by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), a division of the United States Department of Transportation (DOT). It seems that the ability to stop commericial motor vehicles is limited to these officers who have DOT certifications, so that not every Massachsetts police officer can randomly stop commercial motor vehicles.