CDL Disqualifications and Driving With A Commercial Driving License (CDL) in New York

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Most commercial vehicles are large and heavy and can do more damage than a passenger vehicle. Therefore, anyone who holds a commercial driver’s license is held to very high standards. When a person with a CDL faces suspension or disqualification, there are many potential effects that can negatively impact finances and other aspects of life. There are often ways to fight NY traffic tickets issued to a truck driver, and with the help of an attorney who has a thorough knowledge of New York’s traffic laws, your chances for a more favorable result are improved.

If you face CDL disqualification or suspension, Weiss & Associates, PC is here to help. If your CDL is your livelihood, your top priority must be getting your license reinstated, and our attorneys can assist you through each step of the process. Knowing the different CDL disqualification factors and how to get your license back is important. To receive free advice on how Weiss & Associates, PC, can help, please send us a message or call us at 212-683-7373.

CDL Suspension vs. CDL Disqualification

Although some people may unintentionally use these two terms to refer to the same issue, a suspension differs from a disqualification. Whether a driver is suspended or disqualified depends on the type of violation, and some types of violations could result in both. When a driver is disqualified, the individual can still drive a regular truck or passenger car. However, the person cannot drive a “commercial vehicle.” Alternatively, a suspension prohibits the driver from operating a commercial vehicle or any other type of vehicle.

Violations That Can Result in CDL Disqualification in New York

According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (“FMCSA”), offenses that result in disqualification may be considered serious or major. The length of disqualification varies based on the driver’s history of offenses and the type of violation.

Serious CDL Offenses

The FMCSA specifies that if you are convicted of 2 serious offenses within a 3-year period, you will receive a minimum disqualification period of 60 days. If you are convicted of more than three serious traffic violations within 3 years, you will lose your CDL for 120 days.

These are some serious offenses for CDL disqualification:

  • Reckless driving.
  • Speeding more than 15 mph over the posted limit.
  • Erratic or improper lane changes.
  • Driving without a CLP or CDL.
  • Legal violations are connected to a fatal accident.
  • Following a vehicle too closely (i.e., tailgating).
  • Driving without proper endorsements or class license.
  • Violating laws regarding mobile device use while driving.

Disqualification only applies to convictions while operating a commercial motor vehicle. The only exception to this rule is for convictions for the following offenses involving a private vehicle:

  • Leaving the scene of an accident.
  • Alcohol and drug violations involving a private vehicle.
  • Felonies involving a private vehicle.
  • Other offenses that impact your regular New York’s driver license.

Major CDL Offenses

Major offenses come with a one-year minimum disqualification period. The FMCSA lists these common major offenses relating to CDL disqualification:

  • According to state laws, driving under the influence of a controlled substance or while intoxicated.
  • Refusing a sobriety test.
  • Having a BAC of .04 or higher while driving.
  • Using a commercial vehicle to commit a felony.
  • Fleeing the scene of an accident.
  • Driving with a suspended, revoked, or disqualified license.
  • Using a commercial vehicle to commit a crime involving controlled substances.
  • Causing a fatality due to negligent operation of a commercial vehicle.

Using the vehicle to commit a drug-related crime comes with a mandatory lifetime disqualification. If any of these violations occur while transporting hazardous materials, you might lose your CDL for 3-years. 49 CFR 383.51 provides more in-depth information about violations and disqualification rules.

In addition, if a commercial motor vehicle inspection rules your truck as unsafe, this will result in immediate disqualification, and your vehicle will be taken out of service. These are known as Safety Violations. The first out-of-service violation will disqualify you for 90 days, the second one involves a 1-year suspension, and the third one incurs a 3-years or more suspension.

Miscellaneous CDL Offenses

As a carrier operating a commercial motor vehicle in New York, you are required to comply with the Highway use Tax Law (HUT). failure to comply with HUT may result in:

  • Denial of certificate of registration to operate a motor vehicle in New York State.
  • Suspension or revocation of your certification for any violation of the provisions of the HUT.
  • May also be subject to criminal fines, imprisonment, or both.

Violations That Can Result in CDL Suspension in New York

When a New York driver with a CDL receives a suspension, that person needs to avoid driving any vehicle for any reason. Violations that lead to suspensions are major or serious. These are some common violations that can lead to CDL suspension in New York:

  • Multiple traffic violations within a certain period.
  • Driving without proper insurance.
  • Failure to pay prior traffic tickets.
  • Drug-related offenses.
  • Alcohol-related offenses.

Many specific reasons or combinations of reasons a CDL driver may face suspension. For instance, in the state of New York, drivers who get 11 points or more points because of traffic violation convictions within an 18-month period may face license suspension.

For instance, just one or two speeding tickets can leave a CDL driver without a license in a short time. There are also other ways to lose a license through suspension or revocation. For example, people who do not pay state tax debts or child support could face indefinite suspension.

Out-of-State CDL Violations or Suspensions

Since many drivers travel out of the state where they are licensed, this is an issue that some drivers face. What happens if a CDL driver from another state gets a violation in New York? When police officers report violations for CDL drivers, the information is forwarded back to the state where the driver is licensed. This means that out-of-state violations will still appear on the individual’s driving record.

Although the state of New York cannot revoke or suspend an out-of-state driver’s license, the driver’s privileges may be suspended within the state of New York. When the state does this and reports its action to the licensing state, that state may also suspend the individual’s license.

Non-Commercial Vehicle Violations

It can be penalized for traffic offenses while using your personal, non-commercial vehicles in New York. The New York Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) uses a point system to track traffic violations. Your license will be suspended if you accumulate 11 points within 18 months. 

In order to maintain a valid CDL in New York, you need to hold a valid New York State driver’s license. Keep in mind that in New York, speeding convictions and other moving violation convictions can stay on your record for up to three years.

For this reason, we often recommend that CDL drivers plead not guilty to their moving violation tickets and possibly change or eliminate those original charges and hopefully avoid a suspension CDL.

How To Avoid CDL Disqualification in New York

Avoiding a conviction is the better way to avoid losing a CDL through suspension or disqualification. Getting a ticket for a violation does not necessarily mean that a driver will be convicted or have to face the harshest penalties. With the help of a knowledgeable attorney, a CDL holder can fight a ticket to potentially have it dismissed or potentially have charges reduced for lighter penalties.

What To Do if Your CDL Is Disqualified or Suspended in New York

There are a few potential steps to take, depending on the circumstances. A qualified CDL ticket attorney in New York can advise the right path to take for each unique case.

Conditional and Restricted Use Licenses for Commercial Drivers

New York allows something called a conditional license in some cases. With a conditional license, a person may be allowed to drive to specific, approved locations with a regular vehicle. However, the individual may not operate a commercial vehicle. This may be an option when there are drug-related or alcohol-related offenses that could otherwise lead to suspension or disqualification. Any drivers with alcohol-related convictions are not eligible if the convictions were within the past five years.

Restricted use licenses may also be available in some situations that do not relate to alcohol or drugs. Drivers who have never had a suspension before may qualify for a restricted use license. If the driver can take steps to lift a suspension by paying fines or taking another action, the person cannot have a restricted use license. Judges determine if drivers with restricted use licenses can operate commercial vehicles based on individual case factors.

Appealing a CDL Disqualification or Suspension

When a driver receives a disqualification or suspension, it can be appealed. It must be done in the court where the violation happened. However, it is important to contact an attorney before approaching this complex task to improve the chances of a better outcome.

Fight Your CDL Suspension or CDL Disqualification in New York with Weiss & Associates, PC

If you are facing disqualification or suspension of a CDL in New York, our attorneys at Weiss & Associates, PC, can analyze the details of your case and help you fight it. Whether you are dealing with overweight or overheight tickets, safety violations, out-of-state suspensions, or HUT violations, we have helped many CDL drivers beat tickets or see better outcomes. To learn more, please send us a message or call us at 212-683-7373 for FREE advice.

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