For commercial driver's license (CDL) holders, speeding tickets can have more serious consequences than they do for other drivers. Here are some of the basics regarding speeding violations for commercial drivers, including when a speeding ticket can lead to CDL revocation.
There's a difference between getting a speeding ticket while operating a commercial vehicle and a personal vehicle. But both types of violations can lead to license suspension and the loss of CDL privileges.
Certain traffic violations that are categorized as "serious violations" can lead to revocation of CDL privileges. State laws differ, but exceeding the speed limit by 15 or more miles per hour in a commercial motor vehicle (CMV) is considered a serious violation in all states. (Oregon takes it a little further and also makes it a serious violation to exceed the speed limit by at least 30 miles per hour (if the court imposes a suspension) or drive 100 miles per hour or more.)
For a first serious traffic violation, there's no suspension. But if a commercial driver receives a second serious violation within a three-year period, there's a minimum 60-day CDL revocation. For a third or subsequent serious violation within three years, the CDL revocation will be at least 120 days.
Speeding in a personal vehicle is less serious. When a CDL holder gets a speeding ticket in a personal vehicle, the revocation rules aren't as strict. Basically, a speeding ticket in a personal vehicle will lead to revocation of CDL privileges only if the driver loses all driving privileges. In other words, if a driver loses his or her normal driving privileges as the result of a speeding ticket, CDL privileges are revoked as well. There are several ways these types of suspensions can happen.
Point suspensions. Most states have traffic violation demerit point systems. For speeding tickets, the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) will generally assess a certain number of demerit points to the driver's record. For instance, in Michigan, a speeding violation will result in one to four points depending on the amount by which the driver exceeded the speed limit. Drivers who accumulate too many points in a given period of time face license suspension.
Excessive speeding. In some states, a speeding violation can lead to license suspension regardless of points. In California, for example, license suspension is possible for motorists caught driving 100 miles per hour or faster.
Speeding tickets in a CMV that qualify as serious violations will count as priors for purposes of CDL revocation for three years. However, the conviction will likely state on the driver's record and be visible to employers for longer than three years.
Traffic violation points normally expire after a certain period of time, which varies by state and the specific violation.
Generally, drivers can avoid points for a violation or get a point credit by completing traffic school. But commercial drivers typically aren't eligible for traffic school.
For many drivers—especially those who are eligible for traffic school—hiring a traffic attorney for a speeding ticket just isn't worth it. But for commercial drivers, the stakes are higher. CDL holders can lose their livelihood for getting one too many traffic convictions. So, if you're a commercial driver in this situation, it's probably a good idea to at least talk to an attorney about your options for fighting the ticket.