New York’s commercial driving laws are extensive, and everchanging. Your livelihood relies upon a clean CDL record, but it’s not always easy with increased police presence, nationwide staffing pressures, and longer or more frequent runs.
If your Commercial Driver’s License (“CDL”) is at or nearing points suspension, then you need to learn everything you can about New York’s commercial driving laws. This blog post will review how to contest a suspended CDL, how to reinstate a CDL that is already suspended/revoked, and discuss specific instances where the actions of third parties may enhance or mitigate your CDL suspension.
Suspended CDL in NY
There are various reasons why the New York Department of Motor Vehicles (“DMV”) may move to suspend or revoke your CDL, but the primary reasons include:
- A Driving While Impaired (“DWI”) or other alcohol/drug related offense.
- Not showing up for court or paying traffic tickets in a timely manner.
- Driving an uninsured vehicle.
- Points/frequent traffic violations.
With certain types of suspension, such as for a “DUI/DWI,” those law apply. Minimum and maximum license suspensions will thus be enforced depending on the number of prior offenses, the driver’s blood alcohol level, driving history, and other such factors.
When operating commercial vehicles, there is near zero tolerance for DUI/DWI’s. A 0.04% BAC (as opposed to 0.08% for personal drivers) applies. Also, DUI’s/DWI’s can lead to lengthy or even permanent suspensions or bans from obtaining a CDL.
There is not much that can be done to stave off suspension for these types of charges, other than to contest the underlying charges themselves. Remember, in all driving infractions you are considered innocent until proven guilty, and the standard of proof is often “beyond a reasonable doubt.” The time prepare for a court case is the moment you are issued a ticket.
With other types of suspensions, such as for frequent violations, you stand more of a practical chance to demonstrate a hardship. (Especially if your personal driving record is impacting your CDL.) For instance, if your personal driver’s license is suspended in New York, then your CDL will be suspended also.
How to Contest a CDL Suspension in NY State?
License suspensions will frequently occur as a matter of administrative policy. If you plea to (or are found guilty of) certain alleged charges, then your license (personal and CDL) may be impacted.
It’s important to familiarize yourself with the potential components of a plea before you sign the slip. Will there be points issued? Will it impact your driving record? Will there be a loss of license associated with the charge? As a commercial driver, it’s more important that you try to maintain a clean driving record, whether you’re using your CDL or your personal license.
There will be many other instances when administrative compliance is required. Pay careful attention to any notices from the NY DMV to ensure compliance and avoid an “administrative downgrade,” of your CDL. An “administrative downgrade,” for instance, is when a holder of a CDL fails to comply with certain state requirements for maintaining their license, such as failing to pay licensure fees or to provide required medical certificates.
If you lost your traffic ticket/criminal case, or plead to something you shouldn’t have, then you will generally have 30 days to appeal through the NY DMV appellate webpage or via certified mail. It is often difficult to win an appeal, so ensure you retain counsel prior to entering into any plea or taking part in a trial.
In addition, if your license is going to be suspended, then you will have the opportunity to take part in a suspension/revocation hearing. Here you will have another opportunity to fight for your license. But remember, the best time to fight is at the time you are issued each underlying ticket. As a CDL holder, agreeing to even basic tickets such as speeding today, may have serious repercussions on your tomorrow.
How to Reinstate a CDL
If your CDL has already been suspended, then you may be interested in learning more about CDL reinstatement.
For certain types of charges, your CDL may automatically be reinstated after the period of suspension has ended. Other times you may need to petition the NY DMV and pay a fee to be reinstated. The documents you received as part of your formal suspension notice should advise of timing and any steps you need to take to formally reinstate your CDL.
Enhancing or Mitigating a CDL Suspension
You may find yourself in a situation where you are charged with violations that were not solely or wholly your fault. For instance, what if a third party, such as another driver, (or even your employer) is at fault for the underlying charges? Can you still lose your CDL?
As the holder of a commercial driver’s license, you are generally responsible for the condition of your vehicle. Accordingly, if your truck is overweight/overloaded, or if there are maintenance issues with your truck, then you will likely be ticketed. Luckily, these types of issues are generally considered non-moving violations, and do not carry with them any loss of license or suspension.
If your employer failed to provide you with an insured vehicle, however, you may be held responsible for that infraction and your CDL may be suspended. If your CDL license is on the line, you should contact an attorney to discuss potential defenses.
Likewise, if another driver was responsible for an accident, but the police have issued you a ticket, you will want to retain qualified local counsel to mitigate your chances of a CDL suspension. The longer you wait, the harder it becomes to contest a CDL suspension.
Are You a Commercial Driver Confronting CDL Suspension?
Martin A. Kron & Associates, P.C., emphasizes New York state traffic ticket defense, including alleged commercial driving infractions or suspensions. Our lead attorney, Martin A. Kron, Esq., is a former traffic court judge with more than thirty years of experience, and who has been trained by the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles.