By Bryan Shannon, Director ORDP
We all have our own lives, and OTR truck drivers are no different. You’re not always driving for work – you’re probably just as likely to be driving your own personal vehicle to go to the store, to the dentist’s office, to a restaurant, or to your kids’ school. Sometimes when we’re driving our personal cars we might get distracted and not realize how fast we’re going. It can happen to all of us! So, what happens if a CDL holder gets a speeding ticket while driving their own personal vehicle? Does it affect their CDL? Like so many other things in our industry, the answer is “it depends”.
First, it depends on the state in question. Some states take a stricter stance than others regarding speeding in personal vehicles by CDL holders, typically measured with a points system. Some states have a low threshold for the number of points that lead to punishments with respect to your CDL, while others are a bit higher.
It also depends on the specifics of the situation in which you were speeding. In many states, if you’re caught going more than 15 MPH over the posted speed limit it will be considered reckless driving. Reckless driving can lead to suspension or loss of a CDL (not to mention potential misdemeanor charges and possible time in jail).
Legal Ramifications of a Speeding Ticket in Your Personal Vehicle for CDL Drivers
The FMCSA monitors compliance with laws related to commercial motor vehicle operation, and there are different levels of offenses. “Serious offenses” (which are the second most severe type, after “Disqualifying Offenses”) as defined by the law include speeding more than 15 MPH over the posted speed limit, or reckless driving (which again, in many states, can be cited if you were driving more than 15MPH over the limit). If you have two convictions for either a 15 MPH over violation or a reckless driving violation within a three-year period – including when driving your personal vehicle – you can face suspension of your CDL for 60 days. If you have three or more of these types of violations in a three-year period, your CDL could be suspended for 120 days). See here, here and here for more information.
Something else to keep in mind is that even if the jurisdiction in which the speeding violation occurred does not ding you on your CDL, many carriers won’t hire drivers with a reckless driving charge even when it happened in their personal vehicle. This is separate from government action, and depends on the policies of each private carrier. You must also report all traffic violations to your employer, even if they occur while driving your personal vehicle.
There are two main reasons carriers will be unlikely to hire drivers with a less than perfect driving record even when violations happen in a personal vehicle. First, the carrier will generally have to pay higher insurance premiums as a result of taking on a driver with these types of violations. Second, the carrier will also be worried about the potential to have their CSA score negatively affected by a driver with a less than perfect driving record. Carriers are also required by law to not knowingly utilize drivers who don’t meet the driving standards enforced by the FMCSA.
What to Do If You DO Get a Speeding Ticket in Your Personal Vehicle
A lot of the impact on a CDL holder getting a speeding ticket in their personal vehicle will come down to the result of the ticket. Keep in mind that a speeding ticket is a starting point. You haven’t yet been convicted of the violation when a law enforcement officer issues the ticket. You (or your lawyer) still need to go to court and either accept or challenge the violation and the ticket. This means that, depending on the nature of the violation (how much over the posted limit were you going?), your previous driving history (have you had other violations?), and the jurisdiction you were in when the violation occurred, you may have a range of options that end with the ticket not hitting your driving record. In some places, this can include going to traffic school in exchange for the ticket not hitting your record. If you were driving more than 15 MPH over the posted speed limit, you may be able to get it reduced to a violation that is still speeding, but less than 15 MPH over the limit.
For these reasons it can be a game changer for you to work with a lawyer on your tickets – even if they occurred while driving your personal vehicle. ORDP has experts waiting to help you, and we’ve built one of the largest networks of lawyers around the country who can help protect your CDL and your livelihood. If you have a CDL and received a speeding ticket while in your personal vehicle, get in touch with us.
About Bryan Shannon
Bryan Shannon is Managing Director of ORDP. His strong track record of helping carriers manage their fleet operations, grow market shares, and increase revenue is backed by years of experience in the trucking industry.
ORDP’s CDL Driver Protection Legal service finds attorneys for CDL drivers nationwide to resolve traffic violations and DOT compliance-related issues impacting the bottom line of commercial fleets. ORDP’s CDL protection comes with built-in trucking benefits that help carriers attract and retain top talent and improve employee performance.