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Can a traffic violation cost someone their CDL?

On Behalf of | Jan 10, 2024 | Traffic Violations

Driving commercially can be one of the most lucrative blue-collar careers available in Indiana. Individuals do not need years of hands-on training as they would in skilled trades or college degrees as they might in other competitive fields. They simply need to take a special driver’s education course, pass a test and then maintain their commercial driver’s license (CDL).

Like a standard driver’s license, a CDL authorizes someone to legally operate a vehicle. The main difference is that it gives someone the right to control commercial vehicles, which can be far more dangerous than standard passenger vehicles. The rules that apply to drivers in semi-trucks and other commercial vehicles are stricter than the rules for those in passenger vehicles.

Could a traffic violation affect someone’s ability to continue driving professionally?

A CDL is a privilege, not a right

Indiana does sometimes suspend people’s driver’s licenses due to significant or repeated traffic violations. The state can just as easily suspend a CDL as it can a standard driver’s license.

Anyone with 18 or more points accrued within two years could lose their eligibility for a CDL. Some traffic offenses, like failure to yield to emergency vehicles, reckless driving and passing a school bus can add eight points to someone’s record at one time. Failing to use a turn signal or minor speeding infractions might carry just two points.

However, some offenses are serious enough on their own to lead to CDL penalties regardless of the points someone has on their record. Reckless driving, excessive speeding, tailgating, causing a fatal crash and even railroad crossing issues can lead to a license suspension. Only two serious violations within three years are necessary to trigger a 60-day CDL suspension. A third offense within three years could lead to a 120-day CDL suspension.

Major offenses can lead to a year-long CDL suspension. Driving after drinking, refusing to perform chemical tests, driving with a suspended license and leaving the scene of a crash are all offenses that could lead to CDL disqualification for a year.

Someone ineligible for a CDL may need to temporarily step away from their career. They may lose their job and have a hard time obtaining the best-paid roles in the future because of the blemishes on their driving record. Even repeat violations in someone’s personal vehicle might eventually affect their eligibility for a CDL.

Thankfully, drivers have the option of fighting traffic tickets. Defending against a traffic ticket might help a professional preserve their CDL and, therefore, their career.