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Driving Record – Understanding the Point System

Nov
23,
2008
44

by Allen Smith

A major concern for truck drivers is ( or at least it should be) their driving record and how the point system will effect their employment status.

The point system for each state varies, but there is a general rule of thumb one can utilize in order to stay on top of their driving record.  The points added for violations can be more severe when operating a commercial motor vehicle in comparison to your own personal vehicle.  A good guideline to use is figuring that the points for a CMV will equal one and a half times the normal point system for a personal auto.  For example, in Missouri, if you are caught speeding excessively in your personal car, you will receive 3 points against your driving record.  If caught while driving a commercial motor vehicle, you could figure that the number would increase to 4.5 points.

Generally, there are variations to how many points a driver will receive for a speeding violation, based on the excessive miles per hour over the limit. A standard guideline is as follows:

  • Speeding – MPH over not specified = 2 points
  • 1-10 MPH over = 3 points
  • 11-20 MPH over = 4 points
  • 21-30 MPH over = 6 points
  • 31-40 MPH over = 8 points
  • More than 40 MPH over = 11 points

Other violations can also wreak havoc on your CDL:

  • Reckless driving = 5 points
  • Inadequate brakes = 4 points
  • Following too close = 4 points
  • Improper lane change = 3 points
  • Railroad Crossing violation = 3 points
  • Failure to yield/stop = 3 points
  • Other minor moving violations = 2 points

While each trucking company has their own hiring policies, on the average, trucking companies require that a new cdl driver employee have:

  • NO failed or refused drug or alcohol test within the last 3 years
  • NO reckless driving convictions within the last 3 years
  • NO license suspension for points within the last 3 years
  • NO more than 3 moving violations within the last 1 year
  • NO more than 4 moving violations and/or accidents within the last 3 years
  • NO felony convictions within the last 7 years
  • NO controlled substance violations within the last 7 years
  • NO DWI, DUI, BAC or open container violations within the last 3 years
  • NO incarceration within the last 5 years
  • NO misdemeanors involving dishonesty, theft or fraud – these are considered immediate, disqualifying events.

Serious, major driving offenses can cause you to lose your CDL for various periods of time. These types of offenses include DUI and DWI, either in the form of alchohol or drugs, refusing to take an alcohol test, leaving the scene of an accident, using the CMV to commit a felony, driving a CMV with a suspended license and causing a fatality through negligent driving. Any of these offenses can cause you to lose your CDL for life.

Serious traffic violations such as speeding 15 MPH or more over the speed limit, reckless driving, improper lane change and following too close, can lead to severe consequences as well. For a second offense, you could receive a 60 day suspension, and a third violation could result in a 120 day suspension.  Violating an out-of-service order will result in a 90 day suspension. Violating it a second time will bring a one year suspension and a third time will result in a minimum of 3 years.

Keep in mind, that if a CDL is suspended, the state cannot issue a conditional or hardship license.  If you are convicted of a driving violation, even if it is in your personal vehicle, you must notify your employer and any points you receive will also go against your CDL.  These new rules went into effect on September 30th, 2005.

According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, a few of the guidelines for disqualification of a CDL is:

  • 1st traffic violation = 60 – 120 days suspension
  • Two or more violations within a 3 year period = 90 days to 5 years
  • One or more violation of an out-of-service order within a 10 year period = 1 year
  • DUI, Leaving the scene of an accident, use CMV to commit felony = 3 years
  • Any of the 1 year offenses while operating HazMat = LIFE

Safety and moving violations are taken very seriously for those who are licensed to operate a CMV. As you can see, it would not take much to reach 4-5 points on your driving record, professionaly or personally.  One speeding ticket and failing to stop at a stop sign, could bring you 7.5 points on your CDL and you could find yourself out of a job.  These same violations in your own personal vechicle could result in 5 points on your regular driver license . . . and could delay you from receiving your CDL for quite some time.

The point system for each state varies, but this general format will give you a good idea on the various points one can accumulate against their driving record.

© 2008, Allen Smith. All rights reserved.

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By: Allen Smith

Allen Smith is a 34 year veteran ( started at an early age in family moving business) of the trucking industry, many of those years spent over the road. He has been an owner operator, company driver, operations manager, and has owned and operated a moving company, taking many of the long haul moves himself when needed. One thing though that most will say is that the reason and motivation behind the author, Allen Smith, is the fact he is driven by the desire to help others succeed within an industry where injustice, unrewarded sacrifice, and lack of respect and recognition exists. As you read many of the blog posts you’ll discover that he is opinionated and speaks openly about the ongoing issues of the trucking industry. He supports other fellow advocates who are also stepping up to the plate to help those who are in need of honesty, guidance and direction. The list of supporters and like minded people grows daily and their ability to network together and share their thoughts and ideas for the betterment of others within trucking, has allowed the forward movement of... "Raising the standards of the trucking industry"

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44 Responses to Driving Record – Understanding the Point System. - Post a Comment

  1. Independent Realist

    Good information on points and your driver’s lic.

    IR

  2. Allen Smith

    Thanks, IR…..Allen

  3. kenneth gandy

    I have a one incident with clipping another truck bumper, second was blown tire, and the 3 was when they unloading the trailer and door was laiding on the ground and they fired me. My question is when can i start looking for another job in the trucking field.

  4. Allen Smith

    Hi Kenneth: The problem today is that with so many experienced drivers with good records on the market, those with a few blemishes may find it very difficult to get hired. You can always check with companies such as Swift, Werner, CR England, PAM, Covenant, etc., for a hire possibility, but it will all depend on exactly what is on your DMV record and/or DAC report. I would suggest checking both of these records to find out what exactly, if anything, is on them…that would give you a better understanding of “when” would be a good time to start looking again and if there is anything you should be working on to get removed or taken care of somehow. I believe the economy will turn around later in ’09, possibly into 2010 and the need for drivers will return. The problems you’ve listed seem very minimal to me, but companies have become a lot more “pickier” when choosing drivers. Keep sending out applications now, because like I said these issues you’ve listed seem pretty minor to me. Good Luck

  5. Q. Stewart

    Kenneth, man start looking for another trucking job as soon as you can. That’s all B.S., if that’s it on your record. Go for it!!!! Q

  6. richard

    i heard starting next year that if you get pulled over and your overweight you get points on your dl(cdl) if it is true where can i find the info so i can take a copy to work because our company always overloads us and if we complain we wont have a job

  7. Tom Nelson

    A friend of mine was told by a supervisor that in 2011, overweight truck drivers will be denied their cdl license under new dot rules. Is this true?

    • Allen Smith

      There is a Webinar tonight that I suggest everyone sign up for. You listen from your computer.

      Health Regulations and Your CDL

      It will be brought yo you by the editors of Truckers News and Overdrive

      Thursday, July 22, 2010 8:00 PM – 9:00 PM CDT

      All your health CDL questions will be addressed and you can ask questions

  8. Leonard platt

    Hello Mr. Smith,
    I Have driven for one year, on the day of my aniversery I laid the truck on is side and cited for careless driving. That following monday I was terminated, Not for the accident or the ticket. but for not learning from it(So they say) I have been tring to find a company that will hire me with 1 year exp. in the last 2 years, and have been unsuccessful. could you give me some advice, so that I may get back to work as a semi driver

  9. Allen Smith

    Hi Leonard: You were terminated because of the accident. Laying a big rig over is very serious, needless to say. Careless driving is a lessor charge than “reckless” driving and in many states, careless driving is usually just a fine. However, with commercial driving, it can be more serious.

    Most motor carriers have a hiring policy of:

    1.No failed or refused drug or alcohol test in the last three years.
    2.No reckless driving convictions in the last three years.
    3.No license suspension for points in the last three years.
    4.No more than three moving violations during the last year.
    5.Must have no more than four moving violations and / or accidents during the last three years.

    It’s not the careless driving ticket that is hurting you … it’s the laying over of the rig. Often drivers can get by with having a few accidents as #5 above states.

    But companies looking at the fact that you laid a semi tractor-trailer over on its side … this is something that is not going to go away any time soon. And with CSA 2010 right around the corner…your chances even worsen.

    You can try to apply at smaller, local companies instead of the OTR carriers and maybe someone will give you another chance. Another thing to keep in mind is that if too much time goes by you would be required to re-take a 40 hour “refresher” course.

    I would like to say what you want to hear, but with this type of accident on your record … it’s going to be tough.

  10. Danny

    Are there points for Failing to drive in the right lane while towing a trailer? Is this a moving violation?

  11. Allen Smith

    Here in Florida, it is a violation to drive in the left lane, slowing traffic and one is suppose to move over to the right lane for travel. Each state is different, so you should contact your local DMV office and they should be able to answer your question as it relates to your state.

  12. Chad

    Danny,

    I was driving a truck in CA in Los Angeles. Bumper to bumper traffic. I came out of the right lane as a spot to my left opened up to get around what ever the obstruction was or the slow lane, And a cop was behind me. I was cited for not staying in the right lane. It cost me around 1000. Because I failed to pay it on time. May have been a point need to get a dmv print out.

  13. Alex

    How do I go about disputing points on my record. I was pulled over and come to find out that when I had renewed my license about a month earlier they did not renew my CDL. I was shut down and fined of course, but contacted the state of NE had a new license with CDL issued and a letter stated that it was the state of NE at fault for the mistake and then had my fine waived. But still got 40 points put on my record. Had no points prior.

    • Allen Smith

      40 points? You mean on your psp? Or did you mean 4 points on your license?

  14. Daniel

    Hey there! I drive locally for a company for 9yrs. Work Monday through Friday for this company. My friend who runs a couple trucks asked me to do a run for him on a Saturday. Doing so I ended up getting a speeding ticket. Do I need to report the speeding ticket to my employer?

  15. Allen Smith

    Yes. Rule(s) state:

    “Within 30 days of a conviction for any traffic violation, except parking, a driver must notify his/her employer, regardless of the nature of the violation or the type of vehicle which was driven at the time.”

    http://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/registration-licensing/cdl/cdl.htm

  16. mlke

    I got my class a 3 years ago for a traveling construction company. Everyone on this crew was inexperienced when it came to interstate & intrastate travel, even the foremans who have had their cdl’s for many years. We were traveling & working 10 days consecutive putting in 120 + hours(60 hours per 2 pay periods) without taking 34 hours off after the 1st 70 hours. When our overtime was cut we started working 8 days consecutive putting 80 hours (40 hours per 2 pay periods). We got audited by d.o.t for some unknown reason we didn’t receive any repercussion for these violations we might have got lucky & they only looked at the 6 months of the year we didn’t travel that year showing 40 hours Week with time off each week, I really don’t know why we didn’t get busted on h.o.s. violation. Now that we do know the 70 hour 8 day work regulation our foremans don’t won’t to comply because they feel like we don’t apply to the rule working construction in florida and the southeast. My question is, are we exempt from these h.o.s. in florida and the southeast because we are construction worker? If not and d.o.t. finally does catch up with us, are we as operators gonna be fine, shut down, or have our license suspended for non compliance. Or will the company be the only one violated for the infractions? Where is the best source of info on h.o.s. For I refered to many websites and find conflicting information.

  17. Richard Wilson

    Mike, there are a couple of good points and issues you bring up in your questions. Like with all regulations some times we have to ask questions to get answers. Now I have several clients that are in your very same situation. They are not full time over the road drivers hauling or transporting as a primary function of their job, but as you travel to locations out side of 100 air miles, or more than 12 hours in a single day. I assume this is the same with you? Since you are not a primary carrier, I take it you drive to where your working and stay in hotels? If this is the case then as long as your Not driving. except to and from the motel or restaurants for food, your hours are not outside the compliance window. If your company “lets you use” your vehicle for personal reasons stated above those driving times are Exempt. Your not in violation until you drive again. The statement of 120 hours in 2 pay periods @60 per period, do you mean 2 periods of Monday through Friday, Saturday?
    Now to directly answer your questions: The DOT if they conducted the Audit in the spring may only have seen the 6 months that you were slow, this is not uncommon, that they don’t catch HOS violations on not Fright hauling carriers. The 2nd answer could be that the hours you were working were not driving hours, and they exempted you from violations, 3rd. this could have been an Intrastate Florida Audit, which would have been different looking for different violations verses HOS. NO you are NOT EXEMPT from hours of service, if you are driving a Company Vehicle 10,001 lbs GVWR! If you are driving that vehicle to a locations, such as a Motel, and you leave from and return too that same motel all the time you are at that job, then you can use the “Short Haul” exemption and do time sheets, while on the job. This would require you to work 12 hours and then return to the motel and take a 10 consecutive hour off duty period. Again your not in violation until you drive in a Interstate or over the 100 air mile or 12 hours, because your using a Time card, sheet Record of Duty status that does not differentiate driving from working. Now if you are stopped by a Road Side and found to be in violation of the 60/70, or not having a full consecutive 10 hour break before continuing to drive then you WOULD or COULD be placed out of Service, made to go to a Motel near by if the DOT Cop decided you were out of hours or in Violation. If it was found through the CSA that your company warranted a Focused intervention on Driver Fatigue, and they found consistent violations from Drivers as well as the company, The Company as well as the DRIVERS could be accountable and both issued a “Notice of Claim” (fine) If it is deemed to be Acute, (several Critical violations) and the company does nothing or You the Driver doesn’t make any “OFFICIAL RECORDED” attempt to correct these violations, you the DRIVER could be held accountable with the new regulations for up to $2750. I hope this answered any questions you might have but if you do need more information on this you can contact me at rich.wilson@Transproducts.com. Or go to our website http://www.transproducts.com and call on the our 800-367-9100 my ext is 115, I travel a lot and if not available PLEASE leave a voice mail and I will call you back.
    Rich Wilson
    Regulatory Manager/ Compliance Consultant
    Trans Services/ TransProducts
    Milford, De 19963

  18. Tom

    I was given a citation but it was resloved in court and reduced to a no moving violation but when I first recieved the ticket my company had gave me a company safety point so my question is from your personal experience do they have to clear it from my company safety score since I was not convicted on moving violation charges?After six points a driver could be terminated so I would like to keep it clean.

    • Allen Smith

      You need to discuss it with your company and tell them there was no moving violation> Show them the court papers if need be. They can look it up themselves and see it.

  19. Tom

    Thank you Allen appreciate it.

  20. Travis

    I have been thinking of getting my cdl. Couple months ago I received a speeding ticket 26 over the limit in the middle of the desert. I have wondered if this will prevent me from getting my cdl. I have been told by some friends that it would but they don’t really know. So I am hoping to ask someone in the know. Does it change my state or is there a set federal law. Any info you have would be great. Thank You.

  21. Rob

    My question is as follows….I have 10 months driving OTR with just one company. In that year time they put alleged damage to 2 different trailers and one preventable accident on my dac. I have contested the trailers, however every company i talk to say im disqualified due to the accident. How do i prove the accident was not a major one…just misjudged distance to a stationary object. Also any advice on where to apply for another job…company, website to use, etc.

  22. Derek

    I have a question that no one seems to answer. My regular drivers license was suspended in May 2012. I want to get my cdl but i just got my license back this month (October 2012). It was because of court fines that were not paid, they had nothing to do with traffic tickets. Will that affect me to the point where I cant get my cdl? Or is it just going to b hard finding a job that will hire me because of the suspension?

    • Allen Smith

      It won’t stop you from getting your CDL back, that is done through the DMV as you know. The majority of motor carriers have safety hiring policies in place and the standard policy is: No license suspension for points in the last three years.

  23. leo

    ALLEN,
    I I DROVE A COMPANY FOR 3 MONTHS, OTR.
    RECEIVED A TKT FOR SPEEDING 19 MILES OVER.
    FOUGHT TKT. NOW TKT WAS MOVED TO A NON MOVING VIOLATION.
    STILL NOBODY HIRES ME.
    WHAT DO I DO?
    THANK YOU

  24. leo

    AGAIN ,
    I DROVE FOR A COMPANY OTR,STUDENT DRIVER FOR 1 MONTHT THAN FOR 3 MONTHS ON MY OWN. STARTING MY 4TH MONTH GOT A TKT FOR SPEEDING , POLICE CLAIM I WAS DOING 19 OVER THE SPEED LIMIT. MY LICENSE WAS CLEAN NO TKTS FOR THE PAST 10 YEARS.
    HIRED A LAWYER, HE CLEARED MY TKT , REDUCED TO NON MOVING VIOLATION.
    PAID $750.00 , NO POINTS.
    STILL CAN NOT GET HIRED.
    WHAT DO I DO? ASIDE FROM PRAYING.

    • Allen Smith

      Why did you leave after one month as a trainee? I think could have a lot to do with it. When was that and how long has it been since you last drove?
      Also, have you received a copy of your DAC report to make sure there are no negatives in it?

  25. Bo

    Hi! I am a gal with a car to haul, and I am having a difficult time with the brokers who came out of the woodwork when I posted my job. I’ve been lied to, prices have been misrepresented, promised pickup dates have come and gone.

    I have two questions: Is there any way to find a trucking company directly? They all claim to be truckers and then turn out to be brokers.

    My second question is, how do I check CDL licenses and driving backgrounds to be sure that the company that I ultimately hire is ok. I feel like a lamb surrounded by wolves!

  26. Pam

    Air leak in line , what point will I get ?

  27. tee

    can points be added for a warning?

  28. mike

    Hi I am looking to start driving, but just recently got an excessive speeding ticket (86 in a 55) this is my only blemish on my record, is this going to be an issue that keeps me from being hired??

  29. roy

    Can you get 2 points for not having a/c in the cab of your truck with cdl license

  30. I WAS FIRE BECAUSE OF HAVING TWO ACCIDENT IN A ONE MONTH PERIOD. ONE WAS LEAVING A LOADING DOCK WERE A CAR WAS PARK SIDE WAY WERE THE LOW BAR MADE CONTACT WITH THE THE VECHLIE SCUFFING THE DRIVER REAR TAIL LIGHT AND AND HAIR LINE SCRATCH ON THE REAR LEFT-SIDE BODY FRAME. SECOND ACCIDENT WAS SWITCHING LANE BECAUSE OF EMERGENCY POLICE VECHILE PROCTECTING A CONSTUCTION SIGHT WHILE MAKING A LANE CHANGE A VECHILE CLAIMS I SIDE SWIPED IT CAUISING DAMAGE TO THE PASSENGER FRONT FENDER DOOR AND MIRRIOR I NEVER SAW THE VECHILE WHILE MAKING THE LANE CHANGE I KNOW FOR A FACT IT WASNT ME MAKING THE CONTACT, ON THE PASSENGER-SIDE MIRROR WAS CLOSE IN WITH DAMAGE MY GUESTION WOULD BE IF I WOULD HAVE SIDE SWIPE IT I WOULD HAVE TORN THE MIRROR COMPLETELY APART THE MIRROR WAS CLOSE IN LIKED IF THE VECHILE STRUCT ME FROM THE SIDE.NOW COMPANY ARE GIVING ME A HARD TIME ON HIRRING ME BECAUSE OF POINT BEING PUT ON MY CDL CAN ANY-ONE TELL ON HOW CAN I GET THIS REMOVE OR A LAYER THAT CAN HELP ME DISSPUTE BOTH ACCIDENT I HAVE PICTURE TO PROVE IT WASNT NEVER MY ATTENTION TO CAUSE THE DAMAGES.

  31. Celeste

    I work for a company where I drive a vacuum truck. I am repeatedly required to drive this truck overweight. My boss said that he called DOT and asked what the laws are reguarding fines/points against the driver. He said he was told that the company gets the fine and nothing falls against the driver. Is this true and where can I go to find this documentation. Thank you

  32. Kristine

    Ok I was in New Mexico and they got me for a no seat belt. ( had it on but the top part was behind me. It rubs on my neck and hurts) so is this a moving violation or not? And will I get points? From Florida but ticket in New Mexico . Also I have a court appearance the cop told me I have to do(doing phone)do I just tell the judge that it hurt my neck? And I thought I was ok because seat belt was across my lap? Confused??
    Oh yeah what happens to my Csa score with this ?

  33. Edward

    I, have been driving trucks for many years, in 2010 i recieved back2back two speeding tickets the first one in virgina and there was know points add to my license in a truck just a fine, the second one was in my car in north carolina doing 55 in a 35 and there was a fine and 2 points for that moving infraction, and a preventiable accident when my truck rolled-back and dented the hood of a car there was not any injury,s it was at night and heavy rain,my question is when will company,s take me off of the s–t list so that i can go back to driving a truck,

  34. JD

    I got an open container ticket in Ohio, no DUI. Is this a permanent suspension of my CDL license? Is there anything that can help clear it and I can go back to work? Thanks

  35. javier

    with how manny points start your cdl class a

  36. tim

    Hi and thanks for sharing all of your wonderful knowledge and expertise.

    I have a CDL in Maryland. I recently got a ticket in Florida for violation of a traffic control sign/device. I was really pulled over for speeding but the officer made the ticket out for that with comments of going 65 in a 45. From what I understand, Maryland does not usually assess points from other states unless there are more severe circumstances. However, does this change because I have a CDL? And if so, does Maryland assess based on their point system a la COMAR or do they assess based on FL DMV? Also, is this somehow reported to an agency that will suspend my CDL for going over 15mph of the posted speed limit? Thanks. Tim

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