Your Commercial Drivers License (CDL) is obviously a very valuable asset…
Do you know how to protect your CDL?
For anyone who makes their living as a commercial driver, losing their CDL would be as devastating as an attorney being disbarred or a doctor being decertified. It completely changes how you’d need to make a living. It’s happened to good people and has destroyed a lot of lives.
Methods Of Defense
You can protect your CDL through safe practices like defensive driving, never driving while under the influence of alcohol or other impairing substances. Always follow the rules & regulations of agencies like the FMCSA & Department Of Transportation in your area of operations.
If a CDL holder gets a DUI or DWI, it’s an instant suspension of their CDL. Scary thought, even before considering the physical dangers of driving while under the influence! In many places, reckless driving can have the same result.
Using a cellular phone without a hands-free device or messing with a tablet computer, laptop, etc., while operating a commercial vehicle is not only extremely dangerous, it’s illegal anywhere in the U.S. and brings a heavy fine. Not to mention, it could cost your life or result in a fatal crash with someone else.
In the event you get a ticket for any reason whether in a commercial or personal vehicle, it’s always good to get a defense attorney to represent you rather than just paying the fines right away. The reason for this is, when you just pay the ticket, you admit guilt and a certain number of points are assessed to your CDL. (After a certain number of points, your CDL may be suspended.)
A few years ago, I got into an accident in my personal vehicle & was ticketed. The result would’ve meant several points on my license, which has been clean for 23 years. I retained an attorney who helped get the ticket reduced to a non-moving violation. That meant no points against my license. It saved me a lot in initial fines and also insurance premiums over the years. The moral of the story: it was money well-spent to protect my CDL. Oh, and I learned an extremely valuable lesson about distracted driving, too! No one is immune to errors, so just don’t take a chance.
Essentially, if you get ticketed and just pay it without hiring an attorney to help you, you’ll be paying more money long-term and will end up with more points on your license. It’s worth the time and expense to get represented by a professional & make a court appearance, if necessary.
Legal representation can usually help to reduce the points assessed and sometimes the fines imposed on you for the violation (ticket). They can also help in situations where your license may be suspended. This keeps your MVR (Motor Vehicle Record) looking better, keeps your insurance costs down (personal & commercial) and helps if it comes time to change companies or move up within the company where you’re currently working.
Some trucking companies offer legal insurance for drivers. It’s a worthwhile investment and usually doesn’t cost much in the long run.
Maybe you’ve seen legal plans offered in trucking magazines or even at kiosks in truck stops. Some seem a little shady, so make sure you get the documentation and read all the small print before giving up your hard-earned money.
Reputable organizations such as the OOIDA also offer discounts for defense plans specifically for professional drivers, like the Open Road Drivers Plan. (TSG doesn’t officially endorse any specific plan, this is just an example.)
The Best Protection Is YOU
Always remember, when it comes to how to protect your CDL, YOU are the key. Invest in yourself, hone your skills. Keep your equipment in safe working condition. Be professional in your driving habits.
It’s the little things which make a big difference. Like making sure you get enough rest to be alert while driving and completing your logbook & DVIR to the letter.
You work hard to make a good living. Protect your license and your future!
What are your tips, ideas or stories on ways to protect your CDL? Leave a comment below or join the discussion on our Facebook page.