The California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) issued a regulatory notice on October 22, 2014 proposing to add nearly three dozen violations of the Vehicle Code that could result in disqualifying a commercial driver’s license (CDL) holder from operating a commercial motor vehicle.
An audit of California’s CDL program found that the state was not in conformance with federal standards that mandate states specifically define violations of state law that are equivalent to federal disqualifying violations contained in § 383.51 of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSR’s).
The FMCSR’s generally describe the types of offenses that can cause a driver to lose their CDL privileges for 60 days, 120 days, one year, three years, and lifetime bans. It is up to states to define which violations of state law are equivalent to the federal disqualifying language. Generally speaking, the more dramatic offenses are easily understood; get busted for being under the influence while driving a CMV or in your personal vehicle, a state must disqualify you from driving a CMV for one year. Get busted a second time – even in your car, a lifetime ban applies.
Less understood and part of the problem with DMV’s proposal is that a second tier of offences – whether they occur in a CMV or your personal car can lead to disqualification of your CDL operating privileges – even if you can still legally drive your personal vehicle. States have latitude in determining which violations of state law align with federal requirements. States can choose to be more restrictive than federal law – and Cal DMV is proposing to go down this pathway.
Second tier offences are descriptively vague in federal regulation leaving it up to states to decide which violations of state law are “supposedly” equivalent. Getting convicted for speeding excessively (15 mph) or more above the posted speed limit within a three year period whether in a CMV or your car comes with a mandatory 60-day disqualification. That’s easy to define. Making improper or erratic traffic lane changes is another federally mandated disqualifying violation, but it is not defined specifically in federal regulation. However, in DMV’s proposal it wants to add violations of the Vehicle Code that prohibit trucks from operating in certain lanes of highways as equivalent to the federal classification.
The CCTA has filed comments with DMV disagreeing with the inclusion of five specific CVC violations in their proposal that has thirty-three specific violation listed. A public hearing was held on December 16th in Sacramento regarding DMV’s proposal and CCTA attended.
If you’d like more information on DMV’s proposal, go to: www.dmv.ca.gov/portal/dmv/dmv/dmvhomes/regulatoryactions and scroll down to “Commercial Driver’s License – Disqualifications.”
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