In order to get a commercial driver’s license, otherwise known as a CDL, in Virginia, you must pass a skills and knowledge test that is based on the type of commercial motor vehicles, or CMV, that will be driven. Federal law dictates that in order to cross state lines with your commercial drivers license, you must be 21 years of age. It is also important to point out that states can set different age limits for who may drive within their state with a CDL. It is your responsibility to learn the different age requirements for different states and ensure you follow it.
Commercial Motor Vehicle Classifications
Federal guidelines list three different classifications for commercial motor vehicles. The state of Virginia adheres to these guidelines. Here are the different classes of CMVs that are used to determine what type of CDL you need to obtain, based on what you will be driving.
- Class A Vehicles with a gross combination weight rating, or GCWR, of 26,001 or more pounds, with a vehicle being towed in excess of 10,000 pounds, falls under the Class A classification.
- Class B Vehicles with a GVWR of 26,001 or more pounds, with a vehicle being towed that does not exceed 10,000 pounds, falls under the Class B classification.
- Class C Vehicles that are designed to transport 16 or more passengers, counting the driver, that are transporting materials that are labeled as hazardous and do not meet the qualifications for a Class A or Class B classification are labeled as Class C.
The type of CDL required varies based on the type of CMV that the vehicle you are driving is classified as. While the CDL is issued by a state, they are regulated nationally under the Motor Carrier Safety Improvement Act of 1999. In 2005, the Patriot Act modified regulations for CDLs due to security concerns, especially when the driver is permitted to transport hazardous materials.
Fees for Testing
Information that you should know regarding the fees associated with getting a commercial drivers license are displayed below.
How Traffic Violations Affect Your CDL Qualifications
It is important to note that in order to receive your CDL, you must have a clean driving record. If you fail to follow the rules of the road, you can lose your CDL on either a temporary or permanent basis, or you may not be able to obtain one when you wish to. Here are some common violations and how they can affect your CDL.
Below is a list of major violations. Your first major violation will result in you being disqualified from receiving a CDL, or cause your current CDL to be suspended, for a year, or three years if you transport hazardous materials. Your second violation will result in a lifetime suspension or disqualification, though you may be able to have that lifted after ten years. Here are some of those violations:
- Getting a DUI or a DWI with alcohol or controlled substances
- Having a blood alcohol level of 0.04 while operating a CMV
- Refusing to take an alcohol test should an officer suspect you of drunk driving
- Leaving the scene of an accident
- Committing a felony with the vehicle
- Driving a CMV on a revoked or suspended CDL or regular driver
- Causing a death because you did operated the vehicle negligently
Serious Traffic Violation Disqualifications
Serious traffic disqualifications are not as serious as major traffic disqualifications. However, they too can result in problems obtaining your CDL, or in the suspension of a current CDL. A first violation does not cause any issues. A second violation within three years results in a 60 day suspension or disqualification, while a third violation within three years results in a 120 day suspension or disqualification. Here is a list of serious traffic violations.
- Driving 15 MPH higher than the posted speed limit
- Recklessly driving, as laid out by Virginia state law
- Erratically or improperly changing traffic lanes
- Following too closely to the vehicle in front of you
- Not following Virginia
- Driving a CMV without getting a CDL
- Driving a CMV without having the CDL with you
- Driving a CMV that is not within the class for the CDL you have
Railroad-Highway Grade Crossing Violations
When you operate a CMV, it is important to follow the railroad-highway grade crossing laws. If you fail to do so, your CDL can be suspended, or you can be disqualified for applying for one. The first time you fail to follow this law, you will be suspended or disqualified for not less than 60 days. The second violation within three years can cause your license to be suspended for not less than 120 days and the third violation within three years has a disqualification or suspension period of at least one year. Railroad highway grade crossing offenses include but are not limited to:
- Failing to slow down and ensure that a train is not coming on the tracks, if you are not required to stop based on your CMV classification.
- Failing to stop when required before reaching the tracks based on your CMV classification
- Failing to stop before you have reached the tracks if a train is approaching
- Not leaving space to clear the tracks without having to stop the CMV on the tracks
- Failing to obey traffic controls or enforcement officials on or near train tracks
- Failing to cross the tracks without damage because you underestimated your undercarriage clearance
Violations Specific to CDLs
When you have a CDL, or commerical driver’s license, there are violations that you can only get when driving a CMV. Most of these violations are written on the federal level. Here are a few of the CDL specific related offenses you can be penalized for:
- Failing to abide by overweight rules and laws, such as failing to get permits
- Failing to keep a logbook that accurately reflects how many hours you have driven, or falsifying that information
- Going 15 miles per hour above the speed limit while towing a trailer
- Driving on roads that you are not permitted to drive on due to grade restrictions
- Having CDLs in multiple states, as you are only allowed to have one in one state
As was mentioned above, you can have your CDL disqualified or suspended if you do not keep a clean driving record. This means both your commercial driving record and your personal driving record.
The Motor Carrier Safety Improvement Act of 1999 specifically says that drivers with a CDL will face penalties related to their CDL if they do any of these things with their personal license:
- Loses their personal license because of speeding violations
- Loses their personal license because of alcohol violations
- Is convicted of traffic violations and does not tell their employer within 30 days so they can ensure the license is not suspended or affected by those violations
Ticketed? Get Help Before It’s Too Late
As has been explained above, your CDL can be suspended or disqualified if you commit a wide array of traffic infractions. Unfortunately, this can prevent you from working or earning a living. As such, it is important to hire an attorney who can defend you against these infractions so you ensure you can continue to work. There are many defenses available our traffic defense attorneys can explains your options and the defenses that may apply to you.
Free Consultations Are Available
The Brown Firm PLLC offers comprehensive traffic defense legal services for commercial drivers in Virginia. We offer free consultations at our office location or by phone. Call our office or, send us a message online to set up your free consultation today