The Disqualified CMV Driver: Regulations

The Disqualified Driver: Overview

The regulations pertaining to driver qualifications include specific instructions regarding when, why, and how long an otherwise qualified driver will be disqualified for certain acts. These regulations deal with the driver who has already been qualified, and is presumably already driving a commercial motor vehicle. However, they do not describe all disqualifying events that may occur during employment. For example, a driver who fails to submit his “record of violations” “at least once every twelve months” becomes disqualified. It also includes additional regulations that can cause a driver to be disqualified. These, too, must be kept in mind when reviewing a driver’s history.

Disqualification of Drivers

1. A driver who is disqualified shall not drive a CMV, and a motor carrier
shall not “require or permit” a disqualified driver to operate a CMV

2. A driver may not operate a CMV during the duration of a license suspension, revocation, withdrawal, or denial of his operator’s license

3. A driver who receives notice of disqualification must then notify the motor carrier before the end of the business day following the day he receives such notice

4. Certain traffic convictions and bond forfeitures result in disqualification if:

(1) committed during “on duty” time

(2) while employed by a motor carrier in interstate, intrastate, or foreign commerce. Those “certain traffic convictions” include:

  •  driving a CMV under the influence of alcohol, defined as driving with a BAC of .04 or greater or otherwise driving under the influence as prescribed by State law
  • refusal to take an alcohol test requested by law enforcement or other authorities
  • driving under the influence of or transporting, possessing, or using a Schedule I drug
  • leaving the scene of an accident while operating a CMV
  • a felony involving the use of a CMV

5. First time offender (defined as one who without a disqualifying offense in the past three years) is disqualified for one year after the date of a conviction or bond forfeiture, except if the conviction or bond forfeiture is based solely on transportation or possession of a Schedule I drug. In those cases, the disqualification period is reduced to six months

6. Subsequent offenders, or those who have disqualifying convictions or bond forfeitures within three years of each other, a previous disqualifying conviction or bond forfeiture, will be disqualified for a period of three years

7. A driver will be disqualified if he violates an “out-of-service” order

  • the first violation of an “out-of-service” order results in a disqualification period of ninety days to one year
  • a second violation, defined as occurring with ten years of a prior out-of-service order violation, results in a disqualification period of one to five years
  • a third or more out-of-service violations in a ten year period results in a disqualification period of three to five years
  • Operators of haz-mat vehicles or passenger vehicles with a capacity greater than fifteen persons face stricter disqualification periods if they violate an out-of-service order. Specifically, a first offense will result in a disqualification period of 180 days to two years
    A second violation of an out-of-service order for these drivers results in disqualification for three to five years

8. Texting or other cell phone usage while driving can also result in the disqualification of a driver.

  • prohibition of drivers from texting while operating a CMV and prohibits motor carriers from requiring drivers to do so
  • restricts other cell phone usage
  • define “driving” as “operating a [CMV]… including while temporarily stationary because of traffic, a traffic control device, or other momentary delays” but “does not include operating a [CMV] . . . when the driver moved the vehicle to the side of, or off, a highway […] and halted in a location where the vehicle can safely remain stationary;”
  • There is also an emergency exception to both rule, as texting or cell phone usage while driving is permissible “when necessary to communicate with law enforcement officials or other emergency services”
  • Interestingly, a single violation of either rule carries no period of disqualification with it. However, two convictions for either texting or using a cell phone within a three year period will result in disqualification for 60 days, and three or more convictions in three yeas will result in a 120 day disqualification.
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