Commercial Driver License Offenses in Georgia
The penalties for commercial driver’s license holders (CDL holders) violating traffic laws in Georgia are harsh.
If you break the law while operating a commercial motor vehicle (CMV) in Georgia, you may have your CDL privileges disqualified and, possibly, your Class C Georgia license suspended. This can have a profound effect on your livelihood.
Harsh as it may seem, CDL disqualifications may apply even if you were driving your personal vehicle when you committed the violation.
If your privilege to operate your personal vehicle is revoked, canceled, or suspended due to alcohol, a controlled substance or felony violations, you will lose your CDL for one year. If you are convicted of a second violation in your personal vehicle or CMV you will lose your CDL for life. There are no “hardship” licenses in Georgia to operate a CMV.
Because of the serious consequences of these types of offenses, contact the Law Office of Adam D. Brown as soon as possible if you are facing CDL license charges in the Peachtree Corners area of Georgia.
Georgia CDL disqualifications for alcohol, leaving the scene of an accident and commission of a felony
In Georgia, everyone operating a CMV is understood to provide consent for alcohol testing if stopped by the police.
It is illegal to operate a CMV with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.04% or higher. Even for a first offense, driving with a BAC in excess of this (or refusing to be tested) will result in the loss of your CDL for at least one year.
The Georgia Department of Driver Services (DDS) will also suspend your license if you:
- Drive a CMV under the influence of a controlled substance other than alcohol
- Leave the scene of an accident involving a CMV
- Cause a fatality through negligence while operating a CMV
- Commit a felony involving the use of a CMV
- Drive a CMV while your license is suspended
The length of the CDL suspension will depend on the exact nature of the violation.
If the CMV involved in the violation was carrying hazardous material, the period of license suspension is three years.
You will lose your license for life if you are convicted of a second commercial driver license offense (such as any of the above-listed offenses) or for a first offense of using a CMV to commit a felony involving controlled substances.
That is a high price to pay and one that you should oppose at all costs by finding experienced legal counsel to present a robust defense.
Note that if you are found operating a CMV with any alcohol in your blood (even under 0.04%) you will be put out of service for 24 hours. Violating this order carries its own serious consequences, as detailed below.
Serious traffic violations in Georgia
Serious traffic violations are classified as the following types of offenses in Georgia:
- Excessive speeding (15 mph or more above the limit)
- Reckless driving
- Improper or erratic lane changes
- Following another vehicle too closely
- Accidents involving a CMV offense where a fatality occurred
- Driving a CMV without the proper class of CDL and/or endorsements
- Failing to have your CDL with you when driving a commercial motor vehicle
The penalties for serious traffic violations can be confusing but, generally, you will not receive a CDL disqualification for your first offense. For your second offense within a three year period, you will receive a 60-day disqualification. For a third or subsequent offense, you will receive a 120-day disqualification.
Out-of-service violations in Georgia
An out-of-service violation is where you operate a commercial vehicle when you are required to take necessary breaks or rest periods according to an out-of-service order.
The CDL disqualifications for violations of out-of-service orders are as follows:
- For the first violation of an out-of-service order, your CDL will be suspended for 180 days
- For a second violation, your CDL will be suspended for at least two years
- For a third or subsequent violation, your CDL will be suspended for at least three years
Railroad-highway grade crossing violations in Georgia
The state of Georgia also clamps down hard on railroad-highway grade crossing infractions by commercial vehicle drivers.
There are six offenses at railroad-highway grade crossings that may result in a CDL disqualification:
- For drivers who are NOT required to always stop, failing to stop before reaching the crossing if the tracks are not clear.
- For drivers who are NOT required to always stop, failing to slow down and check that the tracks are clear of an approaching train.
- For drivers who ARE always required to stop, failing to stop before driving onto the crossing.
- For all drivers failing to have sufficient space to drive completely through the crossing without stopping.
- For all drivers failing to obey a traffic control device or the directions of an enforcement official at the crossing.
- For all drivers failing to negotiate a crossing because of insufficient undercarriage clearance.
Your CDL will be disqualified for:
- A minimum of 60 days for a first violation
- A minimum of 120 days for a second violation within three years
- A minimum of one year for a third violation within three years
Reasons to be denied or lose your hazardous materials endorsement in Georgia
All drivers of commercial motor vehicles in Georgia who require hazardous materials endorsement are subjected to a TSA background check and are required to submit their fingerprints.
The following reasons can lead to the denial or loss of your endorsement:
- Not being a lawful permanent resident of the U.S.
- Renouncing your U.S. citizenship
- Having a conviction for or being wanted/under indictment for certain felonies
- Evidence of certain mental illnesses
- Being considered a security threat by the TSA
CDL disqualifications for traffic violations in your personal vehicle
You may also incur a CDL disqualification for certain types of traffic violations committed in your private vehicle.
According to the Motor Carrier Safety Improvement Act (MCSIA), you will be disqualified from operating a commercial vehicle if the license to operate your personal vehicle is revoked, canceled, or suspended due to traffic violations (not including parking violations).
Should your personal license be suspended due to alcohol, controlled substance or felony violations, your CDL will be disqualified for 12 months.
For the second violation in your personal or commercial vehicle, you will lose your CDL for life and you will not be eligible to apply for a “hardship” license.
Again, with such a high price to pay, it is important to seek legal advice if you are in this predicament.
CDL offenses affected by Georgia traffic laws
All Georgia traffic laws must be obeyed by CDL license holders to prevent receiving violations.
In addition to the standard traffic laws that every vehicle in the state must follow, special provisions are made for commercial motor vehicles.
Some examples include:
- When a road in the state has limited access due to a state of emergency declared for inclement winter weather, commercial motor vehicles must affix tire chains to each of the outermost drive wheel tires.
- No CMV is allowed to travel along GA 400 and interstate routes inside I-285 unless there are specific reasons for doing so (e.g., you are picking up from a shipper located in the arc of Interstate 285 or if the vehicle’s terminal facility is located inside the arc).
Contact an experienced CDL disqualification lawyer in Gwinnett County
If you have been charged with a traffic violation in the Gwinnett County area that puts your commercial driver’s license (CDL) at risk, you need to take all steps possible to retain your license.
The help of an experienced lawyer can be the difference between a CDL disqualification that gravely impacts your employment and livelihood and escaping with minimal consequences if any.
Start with a free consultation with Adam Brown to consider your legal options and to start building your defense.