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.