Defending Your CDL
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Defend Your CDL: Expert Strategies for Truckers Facing CDL Violations in Florida

Explore key strategies for truckers in Florida to navigate CDL violations and protect their licenses effectively. Essential reading for commercial drivers.

4 mins readFebruary 21, 2024

Trucking Insurance eBook

Author's Bio:

Javier Chavez, ESQ., a Board-Certified Criminal Trial Lawyer at Smith & Eulo, brings over 20 years of expertise in traffic defense law in Florida. Renowned for his adept handling of CDL violations, he's an expert in safeguarding the driving careers of owner-operators and fleet managers against legal threats.

For truck drivers in Florida, safeguarding your Commercial Driver's License (CDL) is crucial to your career and livelihood. This article guides CDL holders through the legal intricacies of traffic violations and offers insights on protecting your license.

Whether you're facing minor infractions or serious offenses, understanding the legal landscape and the available expert defense is essential for every professional driver in the Sunshine State.

Understanding CDL Violation Risks

As a commercial driver, your CDL is your ticket to the road. However, certain violations can put it at risk.


Common Violations Threatening CDLs


Common violations that could threaten your CDL include seemingly minor offenses like:


  • Speeding slightly over the limit
  • Not adhering to traffic signals
  • Driving a commercial vehicle without the right insurance.

While these might seem trivial, they can accumulate points on your driving record, potentially jeopardizing your CDL. It's crucial to understand these risks and manage your driving behavior accordingly.


Serious Offenses and Their Consequences


Serious offenses take the risks a notch higher. These include:

  • Driving considerably over the speed limit (15 miles per hour or more)
  • Reckless driving
  • Neglecting road rules like not stopping at a red light.

If you're convicted of two such offenses within three years while operating a commercial vehicle, you could face a disqualification for up to 60 days. The same rule applies if these offenses occur in a non-commercial vehicle. Awareness and adherence to road safety are key to avoiding these serious offenses.


Extremely Serious Offenses Leading to Major Penalties


Then, there are extremely serious offenses that carry heavier penalties. These include:

  • Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs
  • Fleeing an accident scene
  • Using a vehicle to commit a felony.

A conviction for any of these while driving a commercial vehicle leads to a one-year disqualification. In cases involving controlled substances, this could even lead to a permanent revocation of your commercial driving privileges. Such severe offenses not only affect your license but can also have long-lasting impacts on your career and personal life.

Financial and Legal

We’ve asked expert accountants and lawyers to answer the financial and legal questions commonly asked by owner-operators.

Legal Standards for CDL Holders in Florida

Understanding the legal standards and requirements for Commercial Driver License (CDL) holders in Florida is crucial for ensuring compliance and maintaining your driving privileges. Here's a breakdown of key information that truck drivers operating in Florida need to know:


Entry Level Driver Training (ELDT) Regulations (Effective from February 7, 2022)


ELDT Regulation AspectDetails
Applies To - First-time applicants for Class A or B CDL.
- Upgrading from Class B to Class A CDL.
- Obtaining School Bus (S), Passenger (P), or Hazardous Materials (H) endorsement for the first time.
ExemptionsHolders of a CLP (Commercial Learner’s Permit) issued before Feb 7, 2022, are exempt if they obtain their CDL before the CLP expires.
TestingThe CDL Skills Test can be scheduled before completing ELDT. However, ELDT requirements must be met before taking the test.
RenewalFor CDL licenses expired for one year or more, passing all applicable CDL knowledge and skills exams is required for a new “original” CDL.

Defending Your CDL

Basic CDL Requirements in Florida


Aspect of CDL RequirementsDetails in Florida
Eligibility - Must possess an Operator’s License.
- Must pass vision requirements.
- Must pass knowledge and skills tests.
- Minimum age is 18; individuals under 21 are restricted to intrastate operation.
Knowledge Tests - Offered in multiple languages.
- Oral tests available in English or Spanish (except for hazardous materials test).
Skills Tests - Must be conducted in English.
- No interpreters allowed.

Class-Specific Requirements


CDL ClassType of VehicleKnowledge TestsSkills Tests
Class AHeavy trucks, towing over 10,000 lbsGeneral Knowledge, Combination Vehicles, Air Brakes (if applicable), endorsementsPre-trip Vehicle Inspection, Basic Vehicle Control, On-road Test
Class BStraight trucks/buses over 26,001 lbsSimilar to Class A but tailored to Class B vehiclesSimilar to Class A but tailored to Class B vehicles
Class CVehicles carrying hazardous materials/16+ passengersGeneral Knowledge, Air Brakes (if applicable), endorsementsNot specified in provided information

The Role of a Skilled CDL Lawyer in Protecting Your License

When faced with CDL violations, the complexity of legal proceedings and the high stakes involved make it imperative to seek professional legal representation. An experienced CDL lawyer is not just a legal advisor but a crucial ally in navigating the intricate maze of regulations and potential violations.

Smith & Eulo stands out in the realm of legal defense, especially for CDL holders in Florida, due to their exceptional expertise and proven track record. Here's why considering their services could be a game-changer for anyone facing CDL violations

Smith & Eulo's team of Board-Certified Criminal Trial Lawyers stands out with less than 0.5% of Florida attorneys holding this prestigious certification. Their lawyers showcase deep expertise in criminal law, proven by rigorous testing and 5+ years of hands-on trial experience, including jury trials.

With a strong emphasis on professionalism and ethical practice, they are recognized by the Florida Supreme Court for their credibility. Dedicated to criminal defense, they consistently pursue legal education, ensuring they are equipped to handle the specific challenges of CDL regulations for commercial drivers in Florida.

Takeaways

  1. Understand Common Violations: Be aware of minor offenses like speeding or ignoring traffic signals, as they can accumulate points and jeopardize your CDL.

  1. Recognize Serious Offenses: Serious violations such as driving significantly over the speed limit or reckless driving can lead to disqualification for up to 60 days.

  1. Acknowledge Extremely Serious Offenses: Understand that DUI, fleeing an accident scene, or using a vehicle for a felony can result in a one-year disqualification or permanent revocation.

  1. Stay Informed about ELDT Regulations: Familiarize yourself with the Entry Level Driver Training requirements effective from February 7, 2022, especially if you're a new applicant or seeking endorsements.

  1. Know Basic CDL Eligibility in Florida: Ensure you have an Operator’s License, meet vision requirements, and pass the necessary knowledge and skills tests.

  1. Comprehend Class-Specific CDL Requirements: Depending on whether you're Class A, B, or C, understand the specific knowledge and skills tests required for your vehicle type.

  1. Recognize the Role of a Skilled CDL Lawyer: Acknowledge the importance of having legal representation in CDL violation cases to navigate complex regulations and proceedings.

  1. Consider Smith & Eulo’s Expertise: Recognize the unique expertise of Smith & Eulo, with their Board-Certified Criminal Trial Lawyers and deep experience in traffic defense law.

  1. Understand Reciprocity and Special Cases: If you have an out-of-state or military CDL, know the specific steps required in Florida, including reapplication for hazmat endorsements or waivers for military CDLs.

  1. Value Professional Legal Guidance: Realize the significance of choosing a law firm like Smith & Eulo, which is dedicated to protecting the careers of commercial drivers through specialized knowledge and ethical practice.

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