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Driving Record – Understanding the Point System


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.

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By: Allen Smith

Allen Smith is a 37 year veteran who started at an early age in a household goods family moving business. He began driving straight trucks in 1977 and moved to the big rigs in 1982. His experience within the industry includes; owner operator, company driver, operations manager, and owner of a long distance HHG moving business, taking many of the long haul moves himself when needed. Allen Smith, a truck driver advocate who is driven by the desire to help others succeed within an industry where injustice, unrewarded sacrifice, and lack of respect and recognition exists. Allen and his wife Donna are hosts of Truth About Trucking ”Live” on Blog Talk Radio. Other websites include AskTheTrucker, TruckingSocialMedia, NorthAmericanTruckingALerts, TruthAboutTrucking, and many Social Media websites. In 2011 Allen and Donna hosted the first Truck Driver Social Media Convention, designed to create unity and solutions for the trucking industry. This is now being extended through the North American Trucking Alerts network as those within the industry join forces for the betterment of the industry. Allen strongly supports other industry advocates who are also stepping up to the plate to help those who share honesty, guidance and direction. He believes that all those involved in trucking need to be accountable for their part within the industry, including drivers, carriers, brokers, shippers, receivers, etc… The list of supporters and likeminded people grow daily, networking together and sharing thoughts and ideas for the betterment of trucking. He has coined the popular phrase "Raising the standards of the trucking industry"

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

  1. Diana

    My husband just received a ticket for talking on the cell phone in New York. He is supposed to get has CDL in a few months. How will this affect his future career?

  2. Joe

    I had a questions about infractions that affect your driving record. I was told that if you are driving for a company, that you can be stopped for a malfunction with the truck and it will not count against the company, but against your record. Is this true? (I’m not a truck driver, however I am thinking about becoming one.)
    Thank you for your time in advance.

    • Allen Smith

      According to FMCSA. CSA , points will be applied to both carrier and driver

    • doug youngblood

      yes, this is why you do a pre trip inspection. its part of your job as a truck driver to make sure your truck is good for the road. the pre trip inspection is like a 150 point inspection you need to do before you go on the road.

  3. chris

    My husband just received 2 tickets in Michigan #1 speeding 8 miles over #2 improper lane usage. Should he appear with attorney? how will this effect his ohio cdl?

  4. jazzray

    husband has a cdl disqualification for a non cdl job drug test he didnt take. he has never had a cdl in his life how can this be removed.

    • jazzray

      we live in washington state

    • Allen Smith

      3 questions:
      1) Did he ever take a drug test that he failed?
      2) Has he applied for a CDL?
      3) Where is this information documented? Who told you this?

  5. mike

    question….for a cdl driver who got failure to report on his license but with this personal car…how can this effect employment?

  6. Ale Saenz

    The points from a cdl can’t be erased?

  7. Teresa

    In Texas we have been told that a warning adds points to your record the same as a citation does. How can this be when you have no way to fight it in court?

    • Nona

      Wondering the same thing. My brother in law just lost his job because of this. Is there anything he can do. He there anything he can do. He had a nail in a trailer tire but had just bought the tires the day before and showed the officer the receipt. Things like that. Just trying to find him help. This is so unfair.

  8. Willy

    Any recommendations for attorney in NE? My violation was speeding 16-20 Interstate. I was just driving through and live in MN. Thank you for your help.

  9. john

    we dont need this. This is nothing but a hindrance to us. Just like everything else that politicians have come up with. WATCH FOR JULY 4TH ANNOUNCEMENT. COMING SOON ON U TUBE.! TIME TO STAND UP OWNER OPERATORS!

  10. Mario

    Can you get accepted as a student to a CDL driving school if you have 2 convictions, one of “driving without a license” and the other “failed to a stop sign” with your private car (total 3 points in the record)?

    • Allen Smith

      Be careful. The schools will accept you because they want your money. The real question you need to be asking is if you will get hired after you graduate from CDL school.

  11. Bill Q

    I start CDL training at CPI in Bellefont Pa, on the 3rd of April, part of my schooling in Pa. is funded threw Career link its what took over after the state employment agency’s went under I just got a call from them and was told my funding is being held up until I do the following:


    As discussed on the phone today, the following will be needed in order to try to move your training case along to be approved. Because you have 3 moving violations in the past 4 years, I will need a letter from CPI stating that you would be hired upon completion of your training program and whether or not you have completed and passed the background checks. We also need the placement statistics out of this program.

    The supervisor would also like you to apply for a job in this field to see if an employer would hire you. The following information is for the company he recommended: the customer should go online to and complete an application, he would include a start date for CPI CDL program and a tentative graduation date. They will respond with a Pre Hire Statement that will tell him if they may hire him upon completion of training or eliminate him from consideration. If they do the latter they will give the reason(s). This would give us a better idea of his employability as a CDL Driver.

    The only things on my record is making a right hand turn at a red light that had no R H turning, I got a ticket for going 30mph in a 25mph zone and driving to fast for conditions all in my work van I own none of the above gave me any points on my license and they were spread out over a period of 3 years do you think.

    a. can I get a job after I graduate
    b.will it affect me getting my CDL

    Bill Q


    Truck drivers should have the chance to go to school for the remove or decreasing points on the license in order to apply for employment.
    Sometimes D.O.T or police officers write reports on certain situations that are not accurate and cause driver their jobs or there license.

  13. Galen

    Im about to start truck driving school. I need to know if my warrant in another county will prevent me from getting a CDL. Iwas in a motorcycle accident and recieved a failure to maintain speed, and no registration tickets. Its not on my record because I havent pleaded to anything. If i pay those tickets after i get my cdl will it get my cdl suspended?

  14. Tony

    I had a Roadside inspection in NY. I did not have my HUT sticker affixed on my truck. The DOT wrote it as a violation. Not affixed on truck. There’s no fine,citation, or ticket on my inspection report. Does this go on my record?

  15. Jack

    Got a ticket for driving a Cmv with a suspended cdl from out of state. Ticket was issued 1995 in my personal car for a tail light out. can’t remember any way. During dot inspection I got 5+2 oos points how does it effect my CDL.

  16. Bob form Halsey

    I had a few drivers express concern over creating “points” on their record. I called Oregon DMV to get some clarification and they told me there is no point system in Oregon. I am a safety coordinator for the company and am responsible for hiring drivers. We do a nation wide MVR with each driver and I have yet to see any mention of their points. Where is that information stored/reported from/ report to?

  17. Jeanne Loyd

    Question, how many points in the State of Maryland will keep you from getting a CDL?

  18. Connie Nelson

    I have a client that is trying to get a job as a CDL driver. He currently has a CDL but has two moving violations, one on his truck and one on his personal vehicle.

    We’re trying to find out how many points were levied against him for these violations in Washington State.

    How do we find out how many points he has?

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