Drivers with commercial licenses (CDL) are held to a higher standard than regular drivers. This higher standard impacts a victim’s liability claim when a commercial driver injures them.
What happens if a CDL driver gets into an accident? How many accidents can a CDL driver have before they face suspension or other consequences? The answer is not always straightforward. The consequences a CDL driver may face depend on their actions and the accident’s severity. Some of a driver’s actions could result in a temporary license suspension, while others could result in immediate revocation of their license.
Causes and Consequences of CDL Suspension and Disqualification
Understandably, you might be very worried about the status of your CDL in an accident. However, an accident doesn’t necessarily mean losing your license immediately. For example, if a truck driver is in an accident, he does not lose his CDL automatically unless he violates specific laws.
Whether someone loses their license is not always about how many accidents a CDL driver has, but the circumstances around them. Some events and violations can lead to automatic suspensions or disqualifications. Here’s a look at some ways you can lose your commercial driver’s license temporarily or permanently.
Major Offenses Relating to CDL Holder
Committing major offenses can lead to immediate disqualification or revocation of your CDL. Some major offenses include:
- Driving a commercial motor vehicle (CMV) with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.04% or higher;
- Refusing a blood, saliva, breath, or urine test when requested by law enforcement;
- Leaving the scene of an accident;
- Driving without a valid CDL; and
- Using a commercial vehicle to commit a felony.
You should become familiar with these major offenses if you hold a CDL.
The disqualification periods for major offenses are:
- A one-year disqualification for the first offense, in most cases;
- A three-year disqualification if transporting hazardous materials and it’s a first offense;
- Lifetime disqualification for the second offense.
For some lifetime disqualification offenses, you may have the possibility of reinstatement after 10 years. There are other complications to consider along with disqualification, such as criminal charges.
Colorado’s Excess BAC Underage CDL Law
Colorado allows drivers under 21 to apply for a CDL, whereas federal law doesn’t. That means a driver holding a CDL can only drive within state boundaries. These drivers are subject to a Colorado law specifically addressing CDL license holders under 21 who drive under the influence. If you are under 21 and operating a commercial vehicle with a BAC over 0.2 yet below 0.4, you violate this law.
Serious Traffic Violations Relating to CDL Holder
Two or more serious traffic violations within three years can lead to a 60-day disqualification. You can face a 120-day disqualification for three or more violations. Examples of serious traffic violations include:
- Excessive speeding, like driving 15 mph or more above the posted limit;
- Reckless driving;
- Improper lane changes; and
- Following another car too closely.
Your CDL status could be affected even if you were not operating a commercial vehicle at the time of a serious traffic violation. It’s essential to speak with a skilled lawyer to understand your rights.
Railroad-Highway Grade Crossing Violations
Violating railroad-highway grade crossing regulations can also result in disqualification periods. Examples of violations include situations where a driver:
- Isn’t required always to stop but doesn’t slow down to verify tracks are clear of any approaching trains;
- Isn’t always required to stop, but doesn’t stop before reaching the crossing if the track is not clear;
- Is required to stop but fails to do so before entering the crossing;
- Doesn’t have enough space to complete the crossing without stopping;
- Fails to obey traffic control devices or listen to instructions of law enforcement present at the crossing; and
- Doesn’t have sufficient undercarriage to make the crossing.
Any of these can lead to disqualification periods ranging from 60 days to one year.
Out-of-Service Order Violations for a CDL Holder
When you have an out-of-service order, you and your vehicle cannot operate until the issue is corrected. Disobeying an out-of-service order issued by a law enforcement officer or a Department of Transportation (DOT) inspector can disqualify your CDL for varying periods, depending on the number of violations.
What to Do After an Accident
In an accident, following the appropriate steps to file a claim and protect your CDL is crucial. Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you navigate the claims process. The steps you should take include:
- Assess the situation. Before anything else, ensure the safety of all parties involved and call emergency services if needed.
- Gather information. Collect essential information, such as the other driver’s name, contact details, insurance information, and license plate number. Additionally, take photos of the accident scene, including vehicle damage, skid marks, debris, and any relevant road conditions.
- Report the accident. Report any accidents you’re involved in to the Colorado Department of Revenue immediately. Failure to do so can impact your CDL status.
- Notify your employer. If you’re driving a commercial vehicle as part of your employment, report the accident to your employer right away. They may have specific protocols to follow and can help you through the claims process.
- Contact your insurance company. Inform your insurance provider of the accident and provide the necessary documentation. They will help you understand your coverage, guide you through the claims process, and advise you on any potential implications for your CDL.
Protecting your rights following an accident is crucial, especially when you have a commercial driver’s license. Your employment may be conditional or depend on having a clean driving record. Accidents in non-commercial vehicles could also impact your CDL status, which is why you should hire a skilled personal injury attorney to represent you.
Tips for Protecting Your CDL and Maintaining a Clean Driving Record
Avoiding accidents is only one part of protecting your commercial driver’s license status. Other offenses that may be part of an accident claim can also impact your license status, such as driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. To better protect your CDL, keep the following helpful tips in mind:
- Prioritize safety. Always adhere to safety regulations and best practices, such as performing pre-trip inspections, following the speed limit, and taking breaks to avoid fatigue.
- Stay informed about traffic laws. Regularly review Colorado traffic laws and federal commercial driver laws to ensure compliance.
- Attend defensive driving courses. Enroll in defensive driving courses to improve your skills, learn accident prevention techniques, and stay up-to-date on industry best practices.
- Maintain your vehicle. Regular maintenance checks on your commercial vehicle can help prevent accidents caused by mechanical failure.
- Keep accurate records. Maintain organized records of your driving history, including any traffic violations, accidents, and insurance claims.
By following these tips and staying informed about Colorado CDL regulations, you can minimize the risk of accidents. As a commercial driver, your livelihood depends on maintaining a clean driving record and adhering to the highest safety standards.
Contact Gerash Steiner Blanton, P.C. Today
If you were in a Colorado accident, please contact the skilled legal team at Gerash Steiner Blanton, P.C. We have years of experience helping injured victims fight for the compensation they deserve following an accident. We also recognize the importance of fighting for your rights if you have a commercial driver’s license. If you need assistance following an accident involving a commercial vehicle, schedule a consultation to learn more about how we can assist you.