Criminal charges and traffic citations have collateral consequences that can be detrimental to the holder of a commercial driver’s license (CDL). Most of the consequences to commercial drivers convicted of traffic-related offenses are based on federal law, and the criminal/traffic practitioner must be aware of many such rules and consequences to properly advise his or her client.
Among the many rules governing commercial drivers is the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations, which defines the following nine Major Offenses:
- Being under the influence of alcohol as prescribed by State law;
- Being under the influence of a controlled substance;
- Having a blood alcohol level of 0.04 or greater while operating a commercial vehicle;
- Refusing to take an alcohol test as required by a State or jurisdiction under its implied consent laws or regulations;
- Leaving the scene of an accident;
- Using a commercial motor vehicle to commit a felony;
- Driving a commercial motor vehicle when, as a result of prior violations committed operating a commercial motor vehicle, the driver’s CDL is revoked, suspended, or canceled, or the driver is disqualified from operating a commercial vehicle;
- Causing a fatality through the negligent operation of a commercial vehicle, including but not limited to the crimes of motor vehicle manslaughter, homicide by motor vehicle, and negligent homicide; and
- Using the vehicle in the commission of a felony involving manufacturing, distributing, or dispensing a controlled substance.
Penalties for the above Major Offenses range from the automatic loss of the CDL for one year to the loss of the license for life and other penalties stemming from felonious activity.
Beyond these Major Offenses, there are many other regulations, rules, and penalties that the criminal or traffic practitioner must understand. Great caution must be exercised in representing a client who maintains a CDL to prevent the loss of the client’s license—a loss that can be devastating to the client’s livelihood and employment.
Commercial drivers are prevalent in the United States. According to the Colorado Department of Revenue, there currently are 227,219 commercial driver’s license (CDL) holders in Colorado and 14,032,524 nationwide. . . . Practitioners must ensure that their commercial driver clients are properly advised of . . . collateral consequences associated with criminal or traffic violations. The failure to do so may render the representation constitutionally ineffective and expose counsel to a potential malpractice suit. 40 The Colorado Lawyer 23 (February 2011).
CBA-CLE will be hosting a one-hour CLE to discuss the relevant Colorado law and provide an overview of the federal statutes and regulations affecting CDLs, presented by Jonathan M. Abramson, Esq. Whether you just need a refresher of existing and updated CDL laws or you would like to learn more about tapping into this large legal market, join us in the classroom or via live webcast on Monday, January 16, 2012!