Updated: Oct 10
Commercial driver’s license (CDL) speeding ticket convictions are unlike speeding tickets received by non-commercial vehicle drivers, and in some cases, the penalties get imposed even when the CDL holder is operating their private vehicle. In this article, we discuss the five things all CLD holders should know about a CDL speeding ticket.
#1 – Serious CDL Speeding Tickets According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMSCA) regulations, a conviction on a 15 mph over the limit CDL speeding ticket is a serious violation. Two or more within a three-year period will lead to a disqualification for 60 days, and a subsequent conviction within three years will get you a 120-day disqualification. Will your carrier wait for your disqualification period to end before terminating you? Most likely not.
#2 – Ineligible for Traffic School A conviction for a CDL speeding ticket is not eligible to get masked from public view by traffic school attendance like your non-CMV driving peers. That means you must notify your employer within 30 days, regardless of an appeal according to part 383.31of CFR 49.
The DMV often allows drivers of a non-CMV in CA to attend traffic school to hold confidential a minor traffic infraction when eligible. You are not eligible when:
The infraction occurred in a CMV
There is a mandatory court appearance
It was a non-moving violation
It was already used to mask a traffic ticket within the last 18 months
It was drug or alcohol-related, which is never a minor infraction anyway
Your court courtesy reminder should state whether you are eligible for traffic school; however, another consideration is speeding 25 mph or more, but less than 100 mph. Although you are not automatically eligible for traffic school, a traffic court judge can approve attendance, when not in a commercial vehicle. So, ask your attorney.
#3 – 50% Higher NOTS Points The DMV will assess those convicted of speeding in a CMV 1.5 Negligent Operator Treatment System (NOTS) points for the same speeding ticket conviction received by their non-CMV driver peers. Although it rarely happens in a commercial vehicle, major convictions, misdemeanors, and felonies receive three NOTS points instead of two while in a CMV. The DMV does allow additional NOTS points, six during a 12-month timeframe, eight in 24 months, or ten within 36 months for CDL holders before a suspension. See “Conditions for Higher Point Count” in the DMV NOTS portal, the following conditions apply:
The driver must ask for and appear before a DMV Hearing
Must not have an endorsement for an ambulance, school, pupil activity, or tour bus, paratransit or farm labor transport, or Hazardous Materials (HazMat)
Must not have four points or more within 12 months, six or more within 24 months, nor eight or more within 36 months attributable to operating a vehicle that requires a class C driver’s license, which does not need an endorsement or certificate, or motorcycle license.
The DMV does not require you to have legal representation, but it is advisable as traffic ticket attorneys have current knowledge of CA traffic code, and know which tickets may be removed because they are no longer valid.
#4 – CSA Points There are three levels of CSA severity points assessed due to a conviction for a CDL speeding ticket, these are:
Ten points for speeding 15 mph or more over the limit or any speed violation in a construction zone
Seven points for speeding 11-14 mph over
Four points for speeding 6-10 mph over
Time weights cause CSA severity points to get multiplied by three when the driver or carrier has another violation within the last six months, double with a violation within six to 12 months, and return to face value from 12-24 months. However, a carrier’s score also gets adjusted for exposure, meaning the Safety Management System (SMS) uses a formula to determine a percentile calculated by the number of vehicles, types of vehicles, such as combination trailers or flatbeds, and a utilization factor, which is derived by the total number of miles their drivers have driven. You can view a chart depicting the formulas here.
#5 – Possible Employment Termination A CDL speeding ticket means more than the hassle and inconvenience of traffic court. A conviction directly affects your employment status. Fleet management, whether truck carriers or charter busing companies, pay a lot of attention to a driver’s speeding history. When you get a disqualification, suspension, an out-of-service (OOS) order, or even if your CDL gets revoked, and then later restored, it might be too late to recover, as they say, “It’s water over the dam.” Most Human Resources personnel in fleet management will not bring you back. Likewise, you will not even get past the recruitment phase with other firms because of the FMCSA Pre-employment Screening Program (PSP) and the requirement to submit a ten-year history. In CA, firms registered with the DMV’s EPN Program will get a copy of your CDL driving record and motor vehicle driving record (MVR) to consider as well. When you get convicted for a CDL speeding ticket, carriers with a zero-defect mentality toward moving violations, even in non-CMVs, will terminate your employment with their firm because they fear a rise in fleet insurance. Many anticipate a higher risk from drivers who get caught speeding in their private vehicle and believe they can “dodge a bullet” by dismissing the driver before they get ticketed in their CMV. This phenomenon occurs most frequently at top-paying carriers even though there is a nationwide shortage of 900,000 truckers to fill orders. Unfortunately, many owner-operators stymied by the increased costs of insurance, truck payments, and the electronic logging device (ELD) mandate are fed up with what they believe is an over-regulation of their industry by government officials that have no idea what it takes to “Keep Trucking.” Many would rather go to work for UPS, the USPS, or FedEx, even though they receive less pay and put more miles on their shoes than on their truck because it’s less expensive and less regulated. What You Can Do to Avoid a CDL Speeding Ticket Conviction Each year more than 700,000 speeding tickets get issued to CDL holders. There’s no perfect method to avoid a CDL speeding ticket, but the best policy is to drive safely within the speed limits, slowdown in school and construction zones, and decrease speed in limited visibility or when weather conditions dictate. That might appear impossible when delivery deadlines approach, and you were stuck waiting for too long in traffic or at the loading bay, and then you still need to take that mandatory 30-minute break before you turn “into a pumpkin” after eight hours driving. However, the other option is getting a speeding ticket or Hours of Service (HOS) violation, which is an unacceptable alternative. You must challenge every traffic ticket received in both your CMV and non-CMV with the assistance of a traffic ticket attorney.