Driver Disqualification: Overview
The CDL requirements set forth certain disqualifying events for a CDL driver. While the regulations are interpreted by the USDOT to mean that only the FMCSA or the State or jurisdiction that issued a CDL may disqualify a driver, this does not mean that a motor carrier with knowledge that a driver has, for example, been cited with DUI while driving a truck is free to ignore that fact.
There are prescribed periods of disqualification for certain types of offenses, and a motor carrier who returns a driver to service after a period of disqualification arguably has a duty to monitor that driver more closely. Knowledge of the disqualifying events defined in the regulations may prompt questions for the motor carrier representative during deposition for which he has not been prepared, and counsel may wish to have him agree that the motor carrier will take a driver off the road once it learns of a serious charge, though it has not been put on notice of a formal conviction.
Disqualification of Drivers
1. A motor carrier must not from “knowingly” allow a disqualified driver to operate a CMV.
2. A driver’s conviction for certain “major offenses” will result in disqualification, whether they are committed in a CMV or any motor vehicle. These include:
b. leaving the scene of an accident, and;
c. the use of a vehicle in the commission of a felony.
3. Other “major offenses” only result in disqualification when committed in a CMV, and these include:
a. DUI of .04 or greater;
b. operating CMV while the driver’s CDL is revoked, suspended, or canceled, and;
c. causing a fatality with a CMV by negligence.
4. A driver’s conviction for certain “serious traffic offenses” will result in disqualification, whether they are committed while in a CMV or any motor vehicle. These include:
a. speeding of fifteen or more miles per hour,
b. reckless driving;
c. improper or erratic lane change;
d. following too closely, and;
e. violating a traffic control device in connection with a fatal accident.
5. Other “serious traffic offenses” only result in disqualification when they are committed in a CMV. These include:
a. driving a CMV without a CDL;
b. driving a CMV without a CDL in the driver’s possession, and;
c. driving a CMV without the proper class of CDL required for that vehicle/passengers/cargo.
6. There are various periods of suspension for first and subsequent major or serious offenses.
7. Certain convictions for railroad crossing violations will result in disqualification only when committed in a CMV, including:
a. failing to slow and check;
b. failing to stop where required to stop before crossing, and;
c. failing to obey a traffic control device or enforcement official at a crossing.
8. A driver will be disqualified if convicted of violating an out-of-service order while operating a CMV. The period of disqualification depends on whether or not hazardous substances were being carried at the time.
9. In each instance, the regulation states that the driver “must” be disqualified. The only exception is a driver who is cited for not having his CDL on his person who produces it to the authority which issued the citation by the court date. In that case, the driver is not considered guilty under the regulations.