Commercial drivers are required to obtain training and licensing and follow federal regulations to drive vehicles such as semi truck/trailers, cement trucks, and other large, special use construction vehicles that pose a safety risk if operated by untrained, unlicensed drivers. They are subject to different rules than drivers of regular automobiles.
Until recently, commercial drivers in California who received off-duty traffic violations were not allowed to attend traffic school to have their citations dismissed or suppressed, until recently, putting their commercial licenses and jobs at risk.
However, the California Legislature passed AB 1888 January 1, 2013, which allows truck drivers to qualify for traffic school in specific situations.
Off-Duty Traffic Violations Put California CDL Holders’ Jobs at Risk
Commercial drivers in California with off-duty citations risk discipline and job loss, depending on employer policies and tolerance.
- CDL drivers risk their commercial driving licenses and their driving jobs when they get traffic violations, even in a personal vehicle.
- Employers may not allow them to drive for a probation period after a violation or may have a zero tolerance policy for drivers in their employ and fire them outright.
California Legislature Passed AB 1888
The California Legislature passed AB 1888 Vehicles: commercial driver’s licenses: traffic violator school.
- The new law allows drivers to attend traffic school to have demerit points for violations withheld from their personal driving records.
- However, the new law won’t mask infractions so they are still viewed by insurance companies (subjecting driver’s to possible insurance increases) and must still be recorded in a commercial drivers’ commercial driving records.
However, if convicted twice within 3 years of the following off-duty traffic violations, there are still serious penalties:
- Any violation involving drugs or alcohol
- Excessive speeding defined as 15 miles or more over the limit
- Reckless driving
- Improper or erratic lane changes
- Following too closely
The Main Benefit to Commercial Drivers in California
The main benefit of this new legislation to commercial drivers in California is that after the driver with an off-duty conviction attends traffic school, the conviction isn’t added as a violation point that goes toward negligent operator determination.
In V C Section 12810.5, Negligent Operator Violation Points states that the points from convictions on a class M license will not be applied to the negligent operator point count. This benefit is qualified by number of off-duty violation points in specific time-frames. Only CDL driver violations on a class M license in the following time-frames won’t go toward the negligent operator points:
- Four or more class M license points in 12 months
- Six or more class M license points in 24 months
- Eight or more class M license points in 36 months
Important Points to Keep in Mind
- While the new California law does have some benefit for commercial drivers with traffic violations in their personal vehicles, public safety is still the strong focus of Department of Transportation and Occupational Safety and Health regulations.
- Regulations and record-keeping requirements for CDL drivers can be complicated and there is room for error.
- Types and number of violations within very specific time-frames in your driving record are important in determining whether your off-duty violations will or will not classify you as a negligent CDL driver. This can mean the difference between keeping and losing your job, and affect your ability to get another CDL driving job.
If you are a commercial driver and received a ticket on a class M license, contact us to discuss how AB 1888 applies to your ticket. We can help you navigate the regulations, the new AB 1888 legislation, your CDL and personal driving records, and how they work together to affect your employment eligibility.