How to Fight a CDL Speeding Ticket in Arizona
Speeding tickets for commercial drivers differ from those for a driver in their personal vehicle. Drivers with a commercial driver's license have more to lose from receiving a traffic ticket. CDL traffic violations can affect the driver's entire livelihood, and financial penalties are more than just the price of the ticket and fine.
If you received a speeding ticket in Arizona, consult with an experienced Arizona CDL traffic ticket lawyer to protect your license.
What Should I Do When I Get a CDL Traffic Ticket?
Hire a CDL Traffic Ticket Lawyer
As a professional driver, the best CDL ticket defense is to hire a CDL lawyer who can mitigate the consequences of the traffic violation or even argue for a CDL ticket dismissal.
Legal professionals knowledgeable about Arizona law and commercial vehicles can protect your rights and the validity of your commercial driver's license (CDL). Your attorney may be able to work out a deal in which you pay a fine or plead guilty to a lesser violation. If your case moves to trial, your CDL lawyer can represent your interests.
Aim for Dismissal
You could have the ticket dismissed if the officer who issued it doesn’t appear for the court date, for example. The court may agree or reject that motion and allow more time for the officer to appear in court. If that happens, the case proceeds to trial.
Prepare for Trial
If your case goes to trial, it’s always better to have a lawyer represent you than to represent yourself. They know the right way to fight CDL tickets and can subpoena witnesses or have the original traffic ticket presented as evidence in your defense.
The state is responsible for proving traffic violations and would be required to present evidence that you exceeded the speed limit or engaged in the reckless operation of a commercial vehicle. Your lawyer will counter the evidence and defend you.
Contest Your CDL Ticket at Trial
Your trial is your opportunity to argue for the CDL ticket removal or a lesser penalty. Your lawyer prepares evidence to defend you, and you may testify in your defense.
The state presents its case, typically involving testimony from the officer who issued the ticket and a few more proof elements. Each case is different, so the evidence for yours will depend on your circumstances.
CDL Violations in Arizona
Whether you take your commercial motor vehicle on long hauls cross-country or specialize in deliveries in a smaller urban area, your CDL is essential to your living.
Therefore, it’s critical to familiarize yourself with common CDL violations in states you drive through. The points system and what's considered to be a traffic violation varies by state. However, the threshold of how many traffic violations you have before losing your CDL is fairly consistent.
Most Common CDL Violations in Arizona
Some states permit more points on the license for a commercial vehicle than a personal vehicle, while others hold commercial drivers to stricter standards due to the nature of their job.
- Exceeding posted speed limits.
- Making an illegal turn.
- Driving below a minimum posted speed limit.
- Not stopping at a red light or stop sign.
- Leaving a commercial vehicle running and unattended.
- Driving with expired plates or an expired CDL.
- Not wearing a seat belt.
- Illegally crossing a street.
- Overweight vehicle.
These are not the only situations in which a commercial driver may be issued a ticket, and sometimes, the ticket may contain more than one of these violations.
Non-Serious and Non-Major Criminal Traffic Violations
- Drivers must carry a logbook with them at all times.
- Drivers are forbidden from falsifying logbook entries or omitting them.
- Logbook entry that demonstrates a driver exceeded the permitted driving hours.
- The logbook must be current at all times.
Depending on the cargo you haul, you may be subject to laws specific to those types of loads, such as hazardous materials or livestock.
Serious Offense Violations
A third serious citation within the same 3-year period following the first violation leads to at least a 120-day disqualified license.
Serious violations that lead to a suspended license include:
- Excessive speeding (more than 15 mph over a posted speed limit).
- Unsafe lane changes.
- Following too closely.
- Reckless driving.
- Driving without a valid CDL or without the CDL in your possession.
- Using a cell phone while driving.
Suppose that a commercial driver is involved in a fatal collision and receives a minor offense related to the accident. In that case, the minor ticketable offense would be considered to be a serious offense, with the same penalties as the others.
Major Offense Violations
Major offenses are part of your permanent driving record, with no “reset” when the offense falls off a driving record. The first major offense results in a 1-year suspension of the CDL or a 3-year suspension for hazardous waste transportation.
The penalty for a second major offense is a lifetime disqualification of the CDL, although drivers may petition for reinstatement after 10 years based on a clean personal driving record. Third major offense violations result in a permanent CDL disqualification and no chance of reinstatement.
Major violations include:
- Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
- Refusal to take a drug or alcohol test as required by local laws.
- Leaving an accident scene.
- Using a commercial motor vehicle in the commission of a felony.
- Causing a fatality through negligent driving.
- Using motor vehicles to distribute, dispense, or manufacture controlled substances.
A commercial driver may also be cited for a major offense for operating a commercial vehicle while their CDL is revoked, disqualified, suspended, or otherwise canceled.
What Can Your CDL Penalties Include?
Arizona law prohibits commercial drivers from attending Defensive Driving School as part of a plea deal or penalty for a traffic violation.
State laws also don’t differentiate between a civil or criminal traffic offense. Therefore, your only options after a CDL ticket are to pay it and accept any consequences or hire a lawyer who knows how CDL drivers fight tickets.
A conviction results in points on your license and will likely raise your insurance rates. You may also see an impact on your driver safety score.
Some commercial driving violations are criminal misdemeanors in Arizona, so in addition to the points on your driving record, you could also face jail time or additional fines.
Arizona CDL Disqualifications
Arizona Commercial Motor Vehicle CDL disqualifications mean that the driver may not drive a commercial vehicle or hold a CDL. Disqualifications are a consequence of certain convictions or violations, as per Arizona law, and are as follows:
Conviction of using a motor vehicle in the commission of a felony involving the manufacture or distribution of a controlled substance.
Two or more violations of offenses listed in Arizona statute A.R.S. § 28-3312 after December 31, 1989.
Convictions of the statute A.R.S. § 28-3312 violations while transporting hazardous materials.
Third or more violations of an out-of-service order during any 10-year period.
Second or more violations of an out-of-service order in a 10-year period while operating a commercial vehicle designed for transporting more than 16 passengers or while transporting hazardous materials.
A second conviction of an out-of-service order in a 10-year period.
Refusing to take a breathalyzer or blood test for suspicion of a DUI.
The first conviction of any of these:
- DUI in a commercial vehicle.
- Leaving an accident scene.
- Using a commercial vehicle in the commission of a felony.
- DUI in a non-commercial or personal vehicle.
- Contributing to a fatality through negligent commercial vehicle operation.
- CDL permit or license fraud.
- Third or subsequent conviction of a violation of railroad crossing laws.
Up to One Year Disqualification
The CDL driver is operating the commercial vehicle in a manner causing an imminent hazard.
6 Month Disqualification
First out-of-service order conviction, whether the driver is operating a commercial vehicle designed to transport more than 16 passengers or while transporting hazardous materials.
Third or subsequent conviction of a serious traffic violation within 3 years or second conviction of violating any railroad crossing law.
- Two serious traffic violations in three years.
- Falsifying documentation or information as part of the CDL application process.
- Violating a railroad crossing law.
Can Your Driving Record Affect Your Ability to Get a CDL?
Potential commercial drivers often wonder, “Can you get a CDL with traffic tickets?” - the answer is yes, depending on your driving record. Even if you can obtain your CDL, a negative diving record in your personal vehicle can impact your job prospects.
If you’ve had a traffic ticket in the past, it won’t necessarily disqualify you for a commercial driver's license. However, if it was a serious offense, was issued as part of a fatal collision or felony, or if you have multiple traffic or speeding tickets, you may not be able to get a commercial job or qualify for insurance on a commercial vehicle.
Should I Hire a CDL Attorney?
If you've received a ticket in Arizona for following too closely, exceeding the speed limit, leaving the scene of an accident, or reckless driving in a commercial vehicle, we can help!
The CDL defense attorneys at Brandon White Law can help mitigate the penalties of a commercial vehicle ticket and preserve the status of your commercial driver's license.
We know Arizona law and investigate the circumstances of your traffic violation to provide you with a vigorous defense. Call (480) 471-4616 today or contact us online for a free initial consultation.
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