Truck drivers, bus drivers and other professionals must have a commercial driver’s license to legally drive certain kinds of large vehicles in New Jersey. There are several classes of commercial licenses:
Class A. Applies to vehicles with a Gross Combination Weight Rating (GCWR) of more than 26,000 pounds, and where the Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) of the vehicle being towed is more than 10,000 pounds. A driver with a Class A CDL can also operate all vehicles included in Class B and C.
Class B. Includes single or combination vehicles where the GVWR of the single vehicle is more than 26,000 pounds. The vehicle being pulled must not be more than 10,000 pounds. A driver with a New Jersey Class B CDL can also legally operate all vehicles in Class C.
Class C. Any single vehicle, or combination of vehicles, that doesn’t qualify as Group A or Group B, and which is either designed to transport 16 or more passengers (including the driver), or is used to transport hazardous material.
Those who have a commercial driver’s license almost always depends on their ability to drive to earn a living. Most commercial drivers know New Jersey (and many other states) hold CDL drivers to a higher standard than other motorists because of the size (and associated danger) of commercial vehicles.
As such, getting a traffic ticket for a serious violation can cost much more than a fine—it can cost one’s license and potentially one’s job.
Serious Traffic Offenses in NJ
Drivers who are convicted of two or more serious traffic offenses in three years can have their CDL suspended.
The following violations are considered “serious”:
- Speeding 15+ miles per hour over the posted limit
- Reckless driving
- Improper or erratic lane change
- Tailgating (following too closely)
- Any traffic offense that results in a fatal accident
A conviction of two such offenses within three years can result in a 60-day suspension. A conviction for three such offenses and one’s CDL can be suspended for 120 days.
DUI and CDL
Under FMCSA regulation 383.51, it is illegal to drive a commercial vehicle in NJ with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of more than .04%. This is half the legal threshold for regular Class D driver’s licenses.
CDL holders who are convicted of a first-offense for drunk driving in New Jersey risk having their commercial license suspended for one year (three years for those driving a vehicle with hazardous material). A second offense means a permanent revocation of the CDL!
The same penalties apply to other egregious traffic offenses, such as:
- Being under the influence of a controlled substance (drugs)
- Using the vehicle to commit a felony
- Refusing a breathalyzer or other drug/alcohol testing
- Driving on a suspended CDL
- Negligent operation of a commercial vehicle resulting in a fatality
DUI While in a Personal Vehicle
Unfortunately, CDL drivers caught driving under the influence of alcohol while in their personal (non-commercial) vehicle are still subject to potential suspension, in addition to the other penalties that come from a DUI conviction in New Jersey.
Out-of-State CDL Holders Ticketed in NJ
It doesn’t matter what state issued the CDL and which state issues the traffic ticket; CDL holders who are ticketed for the above-mentioned violations face the same suspension and revocation risks in addition to the penalties imposed by the state. That means a CDL driver ticketed for speeding in New Jersey can end up paying both the NJ fine, receiving points as per NJ’s point schedule, and facing a potential suspension.
Traffic Tickets and Trucking Company CSA Scores
When a CDL driver working for a trucking or other carrier company is convicted of a traffic ticket, it also affects the FMCSA Compliance, Safety and Accountability (CSA) score of the employer. Although CSA scores have not been made public since 2015, potential customers can still request them. Trucking companies with lower scores can run the risk of losing existing customers and/or struggling to get new business. A company can even lose its carrier license.
CDL drivers who are repeatedly convicted of traffic tickets may find themselves terminated in an effort by their employer to preserve their CSA score. Tickets for seemingly innocuous offenses, such as failing to dim headlights and not using hazard lights can affect an employer’s score and jeopardize one’s employment status.
Why Commercial Drivers Should Hire a Traffic Ticket Attorney in NJ
Ultimately, there is no doubt that a lot is at stake for drivers who get a NJ traffic ticket as a CDL holder. Even a single speeding ticket can cause one’s trucking insurance to increase, which can result in hundreds, if not thousands more per year. Moreover, those who are employed as part of a fleet could find themselves terminated due to the risk of increasing the employer’s insurance rates. Lastly, more so than most people, commercial drivers cannot risk a suspension of their commercial license without losing their livelihood.
If you or someone you love has a commercial driver’s license and has received a traffic ticket in New Jersey, contact an attorney right away to find out how you can avoid the worst possible consequences. The lawyers of the Rosenblum Law Firm are skilled traffic ticket defense attorneys with experience helping commercial drivers in situations like yours. Email the Rosenblum Law Firm or call 888-815-3649 today for a free consultation about your case.