Common Mistakes Made By CDL Holders

Traffic Lawyer Salem, VATraffic violations for any Virginia driver can have an impact on their license, but violations against a commercial driver’s license (CDL) can also prohibit a person’s ability to earn a living. People who hold CDLs are usually held to a higher standard than that of your everyday driver. This is because the types of vehicles that commercial drivers typically drive are much larger and heavier than normal vehicles. To get a commercial driver’s license, applicants must go through a rigorous process that involves passing a written examination, having a specific number of practice hours, and then passing a driving test. When a person holds a CDL, they must be careful not to commit any missteps because these errors could not only affect their employment but their entire future. The following are a few common mistakes that CDL holders make. If you are a CDL holder who has been cited for a violation, contact a traffic lawyer in Salem, VA to find out what legal options you may have.

Mistakes that Can Result in Violations

Not making sure your vehicle is serviced adequately. Sometimes, truck accidents are not necessarily caused by something the driver did or did not do while on the road. Sometimes accidents can be caused by improper maintenance procedures. The state of Virginia requires certain routine maintenance to be conducted by truck drivers and mechanics to ensure a safe vehicle.

Following other vehicles too closely. Especially for new CDL holders, gauging the stopping distance needed for a commercial motor vehicle can often be tricky. Following other vehicles too closely can be dangerous because you may not always be able to stop in time if they break. Commercial motor vehicles (CMV) often need more time to stop because of their large size.

Driving while you are drowsy. Driving while you are tired is not technically illegal, but it is considered a type of impaired driving. If you are operating a CMV vehicle while you are sleepy, you are putting yourself and others on the road at risk of an accident. As a Salem, VA traffic lawyer can explain, truck driver fatigue is one of the most common causes of truck accidents, and having a serious crash on your driving record can also affect your CDL standing, especially if there was a violation of Hours of Service involved.

Not having the right endorsements on your CDL. There are certain endorsements that must be on your CDL for you to legally drive that class of vehicle. These endorsements are determined by the weight of the vehicle and the type of CMV you are driving. For example, if you are the driver of a vehicle that carries passengers, you must have the (P) endorsement on your CDL to be compliant with the law.

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If you are facing any kind of traffic violation, regardless of what type of driver’s license you hold, call The Law Offices of Mark T. Hurt to schedule a free consultation with a skilled Salem, VA traffic lawyer and find out how we can help.  

Can My License Be Suspended for Unpaid Traffic Tickets?

In Virginia, just as in every state, driving is legally considered a privilege, not a right. Failure to follow the traffic laws put in place by the state can result in losing those privileges. There are multiple ways this can happen. One of the most common is failure to pay tickets and fines. While this may seem unfair, the state’s position is that a driver cannot be allowed to amass an unreasonable amount of fines without there being some sort of legal consequences. A driver who is facing the loss of license because of unpaid tickets should contact a traffic lawyer in Salem, VA right away.

Traffic Tickets vs. Parking Tickets

While there are many reasons that a driver may have their license suspended, lack of payment of either parking violations or traffic tickets (and associated costs) is one of the most common. The good news is that it is also one of the simplest to rectify.  

Traffic tickets are issued for moving violations, such as not stopping at a stop sign. Parking tickets are issued for violations that are committed while the vehicle is “at rest,” such as parking too close to a fire hydrant or parking at an expired meter.

While traffic tickets may require a steeper fee to erase, the end result of failure to pay both types will still be a license suspension or revocation because the court makes the decision to do so. A Salem, VA traffic lawyer knows that with moving violations, even if the fines are paid on time, the court still has the option of suspending the driver’s license if enough offenses are committed within a certain window of time.  In these situations, the court will examine a driver’s past record and the nature of the offenses committed when making their decision.

Clearing Your Record

In many states, the law permits the suspension of one’s driver’s license if they have accumulated a certain number of unpaid parking violations or unpaid moving violations, or tollway infractions (that is, failure to pay tolls at the required points). In order to clear your record, it requires more than simply paying the tickets.

Generally, for this type of infraction, suspension of a license will be requested by a municipality. The driver will then have to work with that municipality in order to have their license reinstated. They may also have to complete an informal hearing with the DMV before driving privileges may be reinstated, depending on the reasons for the suspension.

If the driver is unable to do this right away due to a lack of funds, they may be able to petition the state for a restricted driving permit, also called a hardship license. This may be obtainable if a person can demonstrate they must drive in order to work or attend school, or to make it to medical appointments (for themselves or other family members). They must request a hearing and present their evidence, although there is no guarantee that such a request will be successful.

Saving Your License

If you have unpaid traffic tickets and are facing a loss of your driving privileges, contact  The Law Offices of Mark T. Hurt to schedule a free consultation with a Salem traffic lawyer and find out how you can avoid that license suspension.

Reckless Driving Violations

As a traffic lawyer in Salem, VA can explain, most states define reckless driving as the willful disregard for the safety of others or the potential consequences of the driver’s actions. There is a difference between negligence because it shows a conscious decision to act in a way that puts others at risk of harm or death. A driver does not have to actually harm a person in order to be guilty of reckless driving. Just creating the risk of that harm is enough to be charged and convicted.

Each state sets its own laws defining what is considered reckless driving but generally, these behaviors are fairly similar. Some of the more common behaviors include:

  • Excessive speeding
  • Racing with other vehicles
  • Driving at night or during bad weather without turning headlights on
  • Engaging in dangerous distracted driving activities that take the driver’s focus off the road
  • Tailgating

When a Traffic Violation Becomes a Criminal Offense

Some states consider certain traffic offenses like reckless driving. For example, some states charge red-light runners with reckless driving and not just a simple traffic violation. This is why it is critical for all drivers to understand the laws of the state they are driving in.

And while a driver speeding is usually cited with a traffic violation, a driver who is accused of driving more than 25 miles per hour above the posted speed limit could be charged with reckless driving. This means instead of just receiving a traffic ticket, the driver is arrested, read their Miranda rights, and brought to the police station to be processed.

If the driver is also found to be under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs, this is usually charged separately and in addition to the reckless driving charge.

Reckless Driving Convictions

If a driver is convicted of reckless driving, they face serious consequences, depending on the circumstances of their case. These are usually misdemeanor offenses, so a conviction could mean up to 12 months in jail depending on the driver’s past criminal history. Minimum penalties still include hefty fines and loss of license, plus a misdemeanor conviction on your criminal record.

If there were any victims hurt or killed because of the driver’s actions, or there was significant property damage, the driver will be charged with felony reckless driving. Penalties for convictions include a minimum of one year in prison.

Contact a Skilled Traffic Attorney Today

No matter what type of traffic offense you are facing, the outcome could be a costly one if you don’t have a skilled Salem, VA traffic lawyer advocating for you and making sure your rights are protected. Call  The Law Offices of Mark T. Hurt to schedule a free and confidential case evaluation and find out how we can help save your driving privileges.


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