For a professional truck driver, your CDL is your livelihood. Unfortunately, many professional drivers fall victim to confusing federal regulations and obscure state motor vehicle infractions. When your job depends on a clean driving record and you receive a traffic ticket, you need a Rhode Island CDL lawyer familiar with fighting CDL traffic tickets.

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA)

The trucking industry is one of the most heavily regulated trades in our county. The Federal government is focused on reducing fatalities, injuries, and accidents involving large trucks on our highways. To accomplish these goals, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) was formed. Tasked with creating and enforcing regulations, the FMCSA is also responsible for collecting data, educating drivers, and identifying potential safety problems. The regulations of the FMCSA are codified in 49 CFR Parts 300-399.

Certain violations of the CFR can result in severe consequences for professional drivers. For example, §383.51 (1) requires a sixty day loss of license for a second conviction for excessive speed within three years. It is important to note that this statute can impact your CDL even if you are not driving a commercial vehicle. Although the harsh penalties are met to ensure compliance with the regulations, truckers often do not realize the repercussions of a simple speeding ticket.

Points on Your Driver Profile

To add to the confusion, a safety compliance and enforcement program exists within the FMCSA called the CSA. The CSA’s goal is accountability and will identify drivers and carriers who have safety problems. In order to determine what is considered unsafe, the CSA utilizes a safety measurement system (SMS). The SMS collects data from a wide range of sources including inspection reports, violations, and crashes. Once the data is collected, the SMS will categorize it based on seven Behavior Analysis and Safety Improvement Categories (BASICS). Each category has a numbering system to help determine the severity of certain infractions and the amount of points associated with each infraction.

Below, the BASICS categories are listed.

  • Unsafe Driving: Includes speeding, improper lane changes, reckless driving, etc.
  • Crash Indicator: Includes accident history
  • Hours of Service: Includes Log book violations
  • Controlled Substances: Includes drug and alcohol violations
  • Hazardous Materials Compliance
  • Vehicle Maintenance
  • Driver Fitness

Rarely will the FMCSA target a driver for accumulating a high amount of points. Instead, the FMCSA will target the motor carrier for the driver’s infractions. Your employer will likely not be pleased that your infractions contributed to a warning letter or safety investigation. Additionally, any and all BASICS violations are recorded on the FMCSA’s motor carrier management information system. Potential employers have access to this information and will be able to identify whether or not a driver has a poor driving history or severe safety violations.

CDL Infractions in Rhode Island

In Rhode Island, the State Trooper’s Commercial Enforcement Unit is responsible for issuing inspection reports and traffic tickets to professional truck drivers. If a truck driver receives a citation in Rhode Island, they have the option of paying the ticket or appearing at the Rhode Island Traffic Tribunal.

Payment of the citation is an admission of guilt and the infraction will be noted on your driving record. If you are adjudicated guilty, the citation will also be noted on your driving record. After enough infractions are accumulated, the state who issued your CDL may revoke it temporarily, potentially costing you your job.

Luckily, CDL drivers also have the ability to challenge any tickets at the Rhode Island Traffic Tribunal. If the citation is dismissed, the violation is removed from the information system upon request. If the citation is amended down to a lesser infraction, the driver can request a lower severity weight on the point system utilized by the CSA. Recently, the FMCSA created an online program that allows drivers to view results of adjudications through link available on their site.

If you are a professional driver and are stopped in Rhode Island, contact CDL lawyers at Abilheira Law who are experienced in handling traffic infractions impacting CDL holders. Our Rhode Island CDL lawyers can protect your CDL and your livelihood. Call today for a free, confidential consultation.