A CDL is a commercial driver's license. In very general terms, it is the special license you need to drive a vehicle hauling a load that is very heavy, very large, or hazardous. Many people get a CDL as a requirement for a job as a truck driver or construction worker. Very understandably, CDL drivers are subject to special rules because of the dangerous loads they carry.
CDL drivers are subject to special federal rules. I won't go into the federal motor carrier safety regulations in detail, but it is important to know that CDL drivers who commit serious traffic violations, or too many minor violations, lose their CDL. The feds noticed that many CDL drivers were hiring lawyers to help them "mask" or hide their tickets. This led to federal "anti-masking" regulations that prohibit prosecutors from dismissing, amending or diverting tickets for CDL drivers to keep them from showing up on their driving records. The anti-masking rules apply to anybody with a CDL, even if they are not driving a commercial vehicle.
This is where the problem arises for people who have a CDL but don't use it. When people without a CDL get a ticket, or even a DUI charge, they can often use the help of a lawyer to keep it from going on their driving record. This can be done by paying an additional fine to have the ticket dismissed or amended to a lesser offense. Another method, normally used for more serious offenses like DUI, is to enter into a diversion program (sometimes called a deferred adjudication or suspended sentence). None of these options are available to a person with a CDL, even if they are driving their personal vehicle.
I get several calls a month from people who want to keep their traffic ticket off their record but can't because they have a CDL. Many of these people haven't used their CDL for years but have kept it "just in case". There is nothing I can do for these folks. Unless we take their case to trial and win it, the ticket appears on their record. This results in higher insurance rates or even a suspended license. The problem is even worse when the charge is more serious, like a DUI or reckless driving.
This is why I am trying to get the word out to people to DROP YOUR CDL if you are not using it and you don't plan to use it soon. This will allow you to keep your driving record clean like everyone else. You can always apply for a CDL again if your situation changes.
Please share this post with anyone you know who has a commercial driver's license but is not using it.
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