Your Commercial Driver License (CDL) and New York Speeding Tickets and Other Traffic Tickets

As a New York traffic lawyer who defends many truck drivers and motorists from New York speeding tickets, New York truck tickets for such things as being overweight and other moving violations, we are often asked what effect convictions to a NY traffic ticket or NY truck ticket have on a person’s Commercial Driver License (CDL). This article will discuss how New York traffic ticket offenses impact upon a person’s Commercial Driver License (CDL).

A CDL is needed in New York to operate a vehicle with a gross weight of more than 26,000 pounds, a vehicle designed to transport 15 or more passengers, a bus and vehicles used to transport hazardous materials. Notwithstanding the above, a CDL is not required for, among other things, personal vehicles when operated strictly and exclusively to transport personal or family member possessions for non-commercial purposes (i.e., U-Haul type trucks).

You will lose your CDL for 60 days if you are convicted of two “serious traffic violations” within a 3-year period involving a commercial motor vehicle. The two charges, however must not arise out of the same incident. You will lose your CDL for 120 days if you are convicted of 3 serious traffic violations within a 3-year period involving a commercial motor vehicle.
For a CDL holder, these sanctions apply for serious traffic violations occurring within or without the state (unlike a regular NYS license which can only be assessed points for New York, Quebec and Ontario offenses but not for offenses occurring in any of the other 49 states). Further, if you are convicted of a traffic violation outside of New York (except parking), you are required to report it to the New York DMV within 30 days of being convicted.

A “serious traffic violation” is any of the following offenses:
• Speeding 15 or more above the posted limit
• Reckless driving
• Improper or unsafe lane changes
• Tailgating
• Traffic offenses committed in connection with a fatal traffic accident
• Operating a commercial motor vehicle without a CDL
It is important to note that the loss of a CDL is only for convictions to moving violations while operating a commercial motor vehicle (as opposed to a private or personal vehicle). The only exceptions to this rule are for convictions to the following offenses involving a private car: leaving the scene of an accident, alcohol and drug violations involving your personal vehicle (1 year loss of CDL for first offense and lifetime loss for second offense) and felonies involving a motor vehicle. Of course, other offenses involving a private vehicle do impact upon your regular New York driver license.

Even more serious offenses will result in the loss of your CDL for one year. These offenses are:
• Driving a commercial motor vehicle with a blood alcohol level of .04% or higher.
• Driving any vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or a controlled substance
• Refusal to undergo blood alcohol testing
• Leaving the scene of an accident without reporting it
• Committing a felony involving the use of a vehicle
• Operating a commercial motor vehicle while your CDL is revoked, suspended or canceled.
You will lose your CDL for 3 years if any of the above occur while your transporting hazardous materials (and for life if convicted a second time for any of the offenses above or if you use a commercial motor vehicle to commit a felony involving a controlled substance).
Finally, if a commercial motor vehicle inspection discloses that your truck is unsafe will result in your vehicle being taken out of service. Examples of such types of violations are unsafe brakes, steering or coupling violations, and you will lose your CDL if any of the foregoing occur:
• First out-of-service violation (90 days)
• Two out-of-service violations within a 10-year period (one year).
• Three or more out-of-service violations within a 10-year period (3 years or more).
CDL holders are also treated stricter in regard to radar dectectors. Drivers of trucks weighing more than 18,000 pounds may not use one. VTL Section 397-a.
As you see, having a CDL comes with more responsibility than a regular drivers license. Please refer to this article if you are issued a New York traffic ticket or feel free to contact us via