Commercial drivers in California are held to higher standards than non-commercial drivers are, both on and off-duty. A commercial driver's entire career can be on the line if he or she does not drive safely at all times. Unfortunately, they face an increased risk of committing traffic offenses due to the sheer amount of time these drivers put in behind the wheel and the challenges they face on the job, such as transporting hazardous materials or heavy loads.
It goes without saying, if you hold a commercial license (CDL), your license could be at risk if you are convicted of certain offenses in your commercial or your personal vehicle. Even something as simple as a speeding ticket could put your job on the line, but serious violations, such as reckless driving, can spell career disaster for commercial drivers. Let's take a closer look at reckless driving and what effect a conviction will have on a commercial driver.
Reckless driving can bring to mind images of crazed and negligent drivers who are inexperienced or don't fully respect the rules of the road. In actuality, even the most experienced and seasoned driver, commercial drivers included, can find themselves facing reckless driving charges. Reckless driving is a misdemeanor offense and one that can cause a commercial driver to lose his or her job.
Reckless driving is defined as driving in willful or wanton disregard for the safety of others or others' property. A misdemeanor offense, reckless driving is punishable by not less than five days but no more than 90 days in a county jail and/or a fine of between $145 and $1,000. If the defendant had alcohol in his or her system when driving, he or she could be charged with a wet reckless, which simply means alcohol was involved. Wet reckless convictions can be held against you when being sentenced for a DUI.
A first serious violation committed in a commercial vehicle doesn't result in an automatic CDL disqualification. A second serious violation within three years will result in a 60 days CDL disqualification, and a third serious violation within three years will result in a 120-day disqualification.
Anyone convicted of reckless driving will face the above penalties from the criminal court, and the DMV will take action against their CDL. The DMV will assign points for many traffic offenses as well as driving crimes, such as reckless driving. Typically, the DMV will assign one to two points on your driving record for individual offenses, but commercial drivers will be assigned points at a rate 1.5 times what a non-commercial driver would receive. For example, if a non-commercial driver were assigned two points for a driving crime such as reckless driving or hit and run, a commercial driver would be assigned three points for the same offense. When you accumulate enough points, the DMV can give you the designation of a negligent operator, suspend or revoke your license, and your employer will be notified.
You should bear in mind that your employer may also impose penalties for a reckless driving conviction such as suspension or even termination. Thus, you should speak with your employer about its policies on driving crime convictions, and that should give you a better idea of what is at stake.
If you rely on your CDL to make a living, you're not alone. Many commercial drivers in California face life-altering consequences for committing certain offenses. If you are a commercial driver and are facing charges for reckless driving or any other traffic or criminal traffic violation, you should contact an experienced attorney in your area to discuss your options. Give yourself a fighting chance and explore your options for defense before you appear in court. An attorney can explain what your charges mean and advise you on the penalties the court can impose along with the affect the conviction could have on your CDL. An attorney can also help you defend yourself against your charges, giving you a better chance of keeping your CDL and staying behind the wheel.
If you are in the Visalia, Hanford or Tulare area and have questions about reckless driving and CDLs, The Law Offices of Christopher Martens is here to help you. California driving crime defense attorney Christopher Martens will work hard to fight your charges and protect your career. Attorney Martens has handled thousands of cases over a span of ten years of criminal defense practice and can fight hard for your rights in court. Contact attorney Christopher Martens for experienced criminal defense counsel today. Contact our office at 559-967-7386 or email us at [email protected] to discuss a possible plan of action for your case.