What CDL Means
A commercial vehicle is much more challenging than a regular motor vehicle. Often, commercial drivers must carry dangerous materials or a lot of passengers. Drivers must undergo specific training to qualify for a commercial driver’s license (CDL) and are held to much stricter standards because of this.
Commercial drivers can face severe consequences for committing a CDL violation. A traffic violation, which may produce a slap on the wrist for a regular driver, can often lead to license suspension, fines, and severe penalties for CDL holders. If you are a commercial driver in Illinois that has been cited for a CDL violation, speak with a CDL violation lawyer immediately.
The CDL violation lawyers at Hirsch Law Group understand the challenges commercial truck drivers face. With extended hours and tight deadlines, we know violations happen easily. Our priority is ensuring that you do not lose your license because of one mistake and that you are not left out of work without a source of income.
Hirsch Law Group has a team of aggressive defense attorneys that have worked as former prosecutors. We have worked on the other side, so we know the tricks we can use to help prevent a conviction. Our lawyers have significant experience with the laws on traffic and safety violations within the state and have helped many people similar to you.
Call our law firm today to schedule a free consultation at 815-880-1134.
Common CDL Violations in Illinois
A commercial vehicle license holder can be cited for a variety of violations, such as:
Operating a vehicle with an expired medical certificate
Driving over the posted speed limit
Failing to signal while turning or changing lanes
Operating a vehicle without the required permits
Failing to secure the cargo being carried
Driving in an unsafe manner
Following too closely behind other vehicles
Unsafely changing lanes
Driving without the required endorsements or qualifications
Operating a vehicle while impaired by drugs or alcohol
A CDL speeding ticket, for instance, is a serious violation that can carry severe penalties and fines, even if it was your first violation. Depending on the severity of the violation, you may face license suspension or disqualification. A conviction for a CDL violation becomes part of your driving record and can be seen by future employers.
Consequences of Traffic Violations
Getting a driver’s record can have serious consequences. Regular drivers in Illinois risk losing their driving privileges if they receive too many violations or are convicted of a criminal traffic violation. However, the stakes are much higher for CDL holders. Driving a CMV requires specific training and skills, so the law holds CDL drivers to a higher standard.
The most severe consequence of receiving a driving record as a CDL holder is losing your license. If you lose your CDL, you cannot go to work and risk being fired by your employer. You can run into serious financial problems without work and face difficulties getting a new job.
On top of this, your insurance premiums will rise significantly. A violation of your driving record can cause your premiums to increase for up to ten years. As a commercial driver, you may have to pay significant costs to your insurance company to continue employment. If your employer helps you to pay for your insurance, they may be unwilling to pay higher fees.
What is Considered a CDL Violation in Illinois?
Illinois traffic law divides CDL violations into two categories; serious and major. All moving violations and criminal offenses involving a commercial motor vehicle (CMV) are regarded as CDL violations. The consequences of a CDL violation depend on the severity of the violation and whether you have a driving record.
Serious Traffic Violations
Serious violations comprise mostly minor moving violations and are less severe than major traffic violations. However, the penalties for serious traffic violations are severe, particularly if convicted of multiple offenses. Some traffic offenses that are considered serious traffic violations include:
Improper lane usage.
Driving through a stop sign.
Driving a commercial motor vehicle (CMV) without having your commercial driver’s license (CDL).
Driving a CMV without owning a valid commercial driver’s license.
Erratic lane changes.
Using a mobile phone when driving.
Violating a motor vehicle traffic control law (except parking violations).
Other minor moving violations.
A truck driver can be cited for a CDL violation while operating their personal vehicle. It does not matter whether you were working in your commercial job at the time of the incident. Because of this, commercial drivers must always abide by these stricter regulations.
Major Traffic Violations
Major traffic violations for CDL holders involve more dangerous moving violations and can involve criminal conduct. Often, being cited for a major traffic violation can include a criminal charge, such as driving under the influence (DUI).
Some traffic violations that are major violations under federal law include:
Driving under the influence of alcohol or a controlled substance. The blood alcohol content (BAC) is 0.04% for commercial drivers.
Refusing a blood alcohol test, field sobriety test, or chemical test.
Committing a felony violation with a commercial vehicle.
Leaving the scene of an accident.
Negligent driving resulting in a fatal accident.
Operating a commercial motor vehicle with a suspended or revoked license (CDL).
An out-of-service order (OSO) temporarily prohibits a driver from driving a commercial vehicle. The suspension period could vary from a few days to a few months, depending on whether the driver has previous violations on their record.
Law enforcement officers in Illinois can issue an OSO for certain safety violations or when they decide that a person’s driving is unsafe. Some examples of safety violations include failing to obey railroad signs, having an expired inspection sticker, or broken tail lights.
You may also be cited for a 24-hour OSO if you are driving with any amount of alcohol in your system and a law enforcement officer decides it is unsafe.
Penalties For a CDL Traffic Violation
Penalties for a CDL traffic violation vary depending on the offense you are cited for and whether you have a previous record. Major violations have harsher penalties than serious violations. However, both can lead to your license being suspended or revoked. As a CDL holder, you are highly likely to receive harsh penalties for minor offenses, such as speeding tickets.
The penalties for serious traffic violations are less severe than major violations. However, they are much more severe than the penalties for regular drivers. Suppose a commercial driver receives two serious traffic violations within three years. In that case, they will face a minimum suspension of their commercial driver’s license for 60 days, which could be extended up to six months.
If they are cited for three serious traffic violations in three years, this revocation period extends to an automatic suspension of 120 days. Being cited for further violations can lead to your license being suspended for much longer.
Being cited for two serious traffic violations, such as two CDL speeding tickets or minor moving violations, could cause you to lose your commercial driver’s license and all commercial driving privileges. Without a CDL, you cannot operate a commercial motor vehicle legally and cannot continue employment as a truck driver or bus driver.
The penalties for major traffic violations are more severe than those for serious violations. Because major violations are often criminal offenses, commercial drivers risk facing criminal penalties for a major violation, including jail time, huge fines, and a criminal record.
For example, if you are convicted of a DUI, you could face up to one year of jail time and fines of up to $2,500. For leaving the scene of an accident, you will receive a Class 4 felony. Being a convicted felon will mean losing some constitutional rights, being unable to work in some industries, and having limited access to housing and education.
The CDL penalty for major violations is automatic license suspension. A CDL holder does not get a second chance if convicted of a major violation. If you are convicted of one major violation, your license will be suspended for one year. Your CDL revocation will be permanent for a second conviction, and you can no longer work as a commercial driver.
A lifetime disqualification is detrimental to a commercial driver as it means they may lose their job, will have to find work in a new sector, and will likely face financial difficulty. On top of this, you will have a criminal record, which can make life significantly more difficult.
How a CDL Violation Lawyer Can Help
Those who get cited for a traffic violation often accept it and pay the fine without contesting it. However, by paying a penalty for a speeding ticket or similar CDL violation, you are pleading guilty and giving up your right to have a defense. You risk losing your commercial driver’s license and your ability to earn an income by receiving multiple CDL violations.
The best thing to do if you have been cited for a CDL violation is to contact an experienced traffic ticket attorney as soon as possible. All drivers have a right to defend against charges or violations brought against them, regardless of the severity.
A CDL violation attorney can help you by investigating the alleged violation, assessing whether you have a valid defense, and negotiating to reduce the violation or charges to avoid losing your license.
In many traffic violation cases, police officers and prosecutors do not have sufficient evidence to secure a conviction. Because most people sign off on a moving violation without contesting it, they do not expect drivers to fight against the charges. When you have the backing of an experienced lawyer, you increase your chances of winning your case significantly.
Contact a CDL Violation Attorney at Hirsch Law Group Today!
Driving a commercial motor vehicle takes a lot of hard work. Drivers must ensure that their vehicles meet the safety regulations, abide by special rules related to operating a commercial vehicle, and obey all the standard road rules. For a CDL violation, drivers risk losing their CDL privileges and being left out of work.
Because the stakes are so high for CDL holders, it is essential to contact an attorney if you have been cited for a traffic violation. At Hirsch Law Group, we have a team of highly experienced traffic defense attorneys who can help you with your case. Our lawyers have seen first-hand how just one violation can ruin a commercial driver’s career and put them under severe financial stress.
Having worked as former prosecutors, we understand how the criminal legal system works. Our attorneys dedicate their careers to protecting the rights of Illinois drivers. We will do everything possible to prevent you from losing your license and protect your future.
Call our law firm today to schedule a free consultation at 815-880-1134.