Interviewer: How about for CDL holders, commercial drivers license holders, do you represent many of them? And how are the points or the whole infraction system different for them?
Freddy: Truck drivers are subject to different penalties. The reason truck drivers are different is that a truck driver will have a CDL license, a commercial driver’s license. That commercial drivers license allows them to be able to drive through different states and to be able to pick up produce or items in their truck, and to drive it across state lines on an 18-wheeler or big rig. A truck driver has a special license.
If you’re a regular driver, you get a four-point ticket you’re not going to lose your license, if you don’t have any other points against your license. If you’re a truck driver and you get a four-point ticket, or even a two-point ticket you could lose your CDL. More typically what happens is the company will fire you pending the outcome of what happens with your license.
If you get out of the ticket, and you get your CDL restored, if they have space for you, they can rehire you. For a truck driver, a speeding ticket can potentially get them fired and if they own a rig, it could make them lose their livelihood.
Interviewer: Even before a conviction, they’re just accused; they’ll tend to be fired?
Freddy: Yes. Just the accusation, with most trucking companies, will get you fired or get you assigned to light duty inside the office for a period of time, but if you do that too long, they’ll fire you too.
Do CDL Holders Who Receive Moving Violation Tickets Need An Attorney?
Interviewer: Well, so as an attorney, it sounds like anybody with a CDL license needs you desperately. Are you able to do anything at the accusal stage to help them or is there not much you can do?
Does South Carolina Have a Different Prosecutorial System?
Freddy: Many times, if I have a CDL truck driver for a client, let’s say, he got a ticket on September 1 and has court on September 15; I can negotiate with the prosecutor. In South Carolina they’re called “prosecutors,” or “assistant solicitors.”
We do not have DAs in South Carolina. I can negotiate with the prosecutor or the assistant solicitor to be able to get that ticket reduced down to something or get it eliminated and thereby saving the CDL and saving the truck driver’s job.
Typically, assistant solicitors will prosecute city cases and, if it’s a very small town that you get a ticket in, the city or town or municipality, a private lawyer who is more typically a criminal attorney or defense attorney, may contract with the city to be their contract solicitor or contract prosecutor, to prosecute those cases.
If you have someone who practices in a neighboring town, he may contract with that neighboring town to be able to prosecute their cases. This way, he won’t be both defending and prosecuting people in the same location. They’re not allowed to defend people in the same county that they prosecute in.
Will a Ticket Count Against Your CDL Even if You Are Not Driving Commercially at the Time?
Interviewer: Going back to the CDL license holders, if you have a CDL license but you’re driving your family car and you’re not driving a truck or your commercial vehicle, and you get pulled over for an infraction, are you still charged as a CDL holder or are you charged as a regular license holder?
Freddy: That’s a good question and here’s the answer. If you’re pulled over driving your family car and you have a CDL license, any charge that you get or any infraction that you get could affect your CDL license. So, yes, even if you’re pulled over, it can affect your CDL license but it’s usually based upon what the company chooses to do.
The company may decide that, yes, that’s good enough for them to fire you or they may decide that’s too moderate. They’re not going to worry about it. They can fire you. Most of the national companies have policies and procedures in place where you can be fired for that.
Are Taxi, Limousine and Bus Drivers Commercial Drivers?
Interviewer: So, a trucker is a common CDL holder but what about limousine drivers or taxicabs or school bus drivers? Are they all CDL licenses?
Freddy: No. If you’re driving a commercial big vehicle, like a big rig or an 18-wheel truck, you’re going to have a CDL. If you’re a limousine driver, you may have a CDL but you may not be using it for that purpose. If you’re a school bus driver, you’re not required to have a CDL, but if you do have a CDL, then you can use that CDL for that purpose. If you have a CDL, you are subject to the consequences of having a CDL, of losing your license if you have an infraction.
Interviewer: Are the police any harsher on CDL drivers or do they have an understanding with them and are kind of easier on them?
Freddy: No. The police are the police, meaning that the police will charge you with whatever they think they can charge you with, irrespective of whether you have a CDL license or you’re a truck driver or you have a regular license.
By Freddy Woods