Obtaining a commercial driver’s license (CDL) in Louisiana can be a great accomplishment and open doors to a successful career. However, it can also come with added responsibility. A driver with a CDL in Louisiana may face higher penalties, and in some cases, these penalties may lead to a permanent revocation of their CDL. This article examines some ramifications for getting various types of tickets in the state, and what you can do if you find yourself in such an unfortunate position.
Traffic Violations and CDL Disqualification
CDL’s are regulated at a federal level under the Motor Carrier Safety Improvement Act of 1999, and Chapter 32:414.2 of the Louisiana revised statutes deals with specific penalties for holders of a CDL in the state. In certain circumstances, CDL holders may lose their license regardless of whether they are operating either a commercial or noncommercial motor vehicle.
Louisiana law states that a person will be disqualified from operating a commercial motor vehicle for 60 days if convicted of two serious traffic violations, and 100 days if convicted of three, while operating a commercial motor vehicle. A “serious traffic violation” can include excessive speeding (15mph or above the posted speed limit), improper lane changes, following too closely, texting while driving, among others.
Additionally, a person will be disqualified from operating a commercial motor vehicle for life if the CDL holder uses any vehicle in the commission of a felony, or the second reported submission of operating a vehicle while under the influence, leaving the scene of an accident, or refusal to submit to an alcohol or drug test. The act of operating a commercial motor vehicle constitutes implied consent to be tested for any trace of alcohol.
In addition to traffic violations, Louisiana also provides for specific violations that apply only to those holding a CDL.
Under Louisiana law, CDL holders must ensure their vehicles have specific permits if their load is oversized, and must keep an up-to-date logbook that accurately reflects hours driven. CDL holders can also have their license suspended for driving 15mph above the speed limit while towing a trailer, and may face a 60-day suspension for driving on a road they are not permitted to drive on due to its steepness, or “grade”. To make matters worse, penalties for driving under a suspended CDL may include fines up to $5,000 or imprisonment up to six months.
Out-of-state Violation Impact on CDL
As CDL’s are regulated under the national Motor Carrier Safety Improvement Act, CDL holders may also find their CDL in peril if they violate another state’s traffic laws. Once a violation has occurred, a driver is put on the National Driver Register (NDR). Every state in the country is obligated to check the NDR prior to granting any license privilege.
The state of Louisiana and its various enforcement agencies that prescribe punishment for state traffic violations are permitted to consider violations that occur in other states. This means that a CDL holder in Louisiana that has committed a violation in another state may be considered a second time offender if a similar violation occurs within Louisiana state lines. As noted above, a second violation may result in a 60-day, 100-day, or even a Permanente revocation of a CDL.
Remember, this works both ways. While Louisiana considers violations from other states, you may face additional penalties for violating traffic laws in other states.
Obtaining Legal Advice
Obtaining a CDL can be a valuable tool, however, it also comes with added responsibility. CDL holders are subject not only to state law, but also federal regulation. If you have been charged with committing a moving violation and you believe your CDL is at risk, your best course is to seek the advice of an experienced attorney. An attorney can help you navigate the complex law applicable to a CDL, and discuss the best possible way forward.