Federal Regulations, 49 CFR 383.51, carry strict penalties for holders of Commercial Drivers Licenses who commit certain traffic violations. For example, if you receive a citation for “excessive speeding,” which is defined as speeding in excess of 15 miles per hour over the speed limit, it will be counted against you as a serious traffic violation (STV). However, in order for this to affect your CDL, the speeding violation must have been committed while you were operating a CDL vehicle.
A Reckless Driving, Careless Driving, Negligent Operation or Operating so as to Endanger conviction will result in a 60-day suspension of your Class D, passenger car, license in Massachusetts regardless of whether the offense was committed in a passenger car or CDL vehicle.
Other violations committed while operating a commercial motor vehicle such as improper and unsafe lane charges count towards the 60-day Serious Traffic Violation Disqualification penalty. However, this particular infraction should not apply in all situations. I have personally seen CDL drivers cited for marked lanes violations when all they did was park their tractor trailer units in improper spots at truck stops and rest areas. Instead of being issued parking tickets, they were issued traffic citations which later resulted in the suspension of their commercial driver’s licenses. If this happens to you, it is important to appeal the citation because it does not seem to be the type of violation that was intended to cause the loss of a CDL. Instead, the disqualification appears to be focused on penalizing someone who makes unsafe lane changes while operating a tractor trailer unit.
Another example of stricter penalties for CDL drivers is the .04 blood alcohol limit. Under both state and federal law, a CDL holder who operates a CDL vehicle with a BAC of .04 or above will result in an automatic CDL revocation or disqualification. This penalty can be imposed whether the driver is on or off duty, so long as the driver was operating a CDL vehicle, such as a tractor trailer unit, at the time of the violation. The blood alcohol limit for drivers of non-CDL vehicles is .08.
If you depend on a Commercial Drivers License to earn a living, you should take the steps necessary to protect your livelihood by driving carefully, being aware of what could cause a CDL disqualification, and assert your appellate rights when necessary.