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Good Ruling for Commercial Drivers in Florida

In Florida if you possess a regular drivers license, and you receive a moving violation, you have three options for non-mandatory traffic infractions:

  1. Elect a driver improvement school
  2. Pay the citation
  3. Elect to fight the citation in Court.

However, the options available to a commercial driver are limited as they can pay the citation or fight the ticket in Court.

Until a memo from the Department of Highway Safety and Motor VehiclesDHSMV) began circulating on January , 2014, it was commonplace for a Judge to withhold adjudication on a commercial driver if the facts and driving record warranted such a result. A withhold of adjudication would mean that a driver wouldnt receive point on their license BUT the violation would still appear on their record as has been commonplace for years.

Since the memo began circulating over a year ago, each county has been inconsistent with their interpretation of the memo and the sentences they were imposing on a commercial driver appearing before them. In an order from Sarasota County (State v John Brandy, 2014 TR 15144 NC) Judge Phyllis Galen on March , 2015, the Judge ruled that the Court has the authority to withhold adjudication on a commercial driver appearing before them on a moving violation. The Judge discussed the separation of powers between the branches of Government and opined that under Florida Law, a withhold of adjudication is NOT masking since the violation still appears on a driving record.

Finebloom, Haenel, and Higgins have been representing motorists across the State of Florida for over 10 years. David Haenel, one of the partners is the former Florida Bar Traffic Court Rules Committee chairman. They can be reached at 1-800-FIGHT-IT (344-4848)

Comedian Tracy Morgan Seriously Injured After Accident Between Limo and Semi Truck

In the early morning hours of June 7, 2014, the actor and comedian Tracy Morgan was involved in Tracy Morgan inured in new jersey highway accidenta serious accident on the New Jersey Turnpike as he was leaving a comedy show in Delaware.  Tracy Morgan and other comedians were in a limo bus that had slowed down for traffic when they were struck from behind by a semi-truck driven by Kevin Roper of Georgia.  The limo flipped over on its roof and a chain reaction accident was started involving several other vehicles.  Morgan and two other people were seriously injured in the crash.  One other comedian in the limo, James McNair, otherwise known as “Jimmy Mack”, died at the scene.

Morgan is expected to remain in the hospital for several weeks because of his injuries, which included a broken leg, nose and ribs.  According to his representative, he had surgery for his injuries over the weekend at a New Jersey Hospital.

Roper, a Walmart employee who was driving a company truck at the time of the accident, turned himself in and has been charged with a variety of crimes including death by auto and multiple counts of assault by auto.  According to prosecutors, Roper had not slept in at least 24 hours before the accident happened and some reports are saying that he may have dozed off and did not notice the slowing traffic.  Roper is currently free on $50,000 bail and has another hearing schedule for June 11, 2014.

Unfortunately, accidents like these are all too common.  Many trucking companies and companies such as Walmart push the limit on regulations regarding rest time for drivers and put intense pressure on drivers to finish their runs quicker in order to maximize profits.  The result is that there are accidents such as this one, where truckers zone out or fall asleep at the wheel.

According to the NHTSA, up to 12-13 percent of all deadly accidents involved trucks.  In 2000 alone, there were nearly 5000 fatal accidents nationwide involving trucks.  Of all the accidents involving trucks, up to 20% directly involves drivers who were drowsy or actually asleep at the time of the accident.

Florida is one of the worst states in the country when it comes to truck driver safety with over 1500 trucks involved in fatal accidents in a four year period.  This means that in four years there were 300 accidents involving a truck in Florida alone where there was at least one death.  Statistically, 60 of these involved a drowsy or sleeping truck driver.

The total number of accidents each year across the U.S. involving sleepy or sleeping drivers is well over 100,000.  According to one study, you are up to six times more likely to be involved in an accident if you are driving while drowsy.  While this is not as large as the number of deaths by driving while impaired by drugs or alcohol, driving while drowsy is a serious problem that amounts to huge amounts of injury and death every year.

Thousands of Florida Commercial Drivers Disqualified on March 31st of 2014

A statewide crackdown on drivers who failed to comply with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s guidelines for self certification led to repercussions for thousands of Florida drivers on March 31st of this year. For Florida drivers who are unfamiliar with the self certification procedures in the state, referring to section 322.01 (15) or taking a short trip to your local driver’s licensing office could mean the difference between a disqualification and a newfound freedom to drive based on the statewide reinforcement of the regulation.

Definition of Temporary Disqualification

A temporary disqualification is the revoking of a CDL for a specific period of time. In contrast, some drivers can have their CDL ultimately revoked for the entirety of their lifetime. The permanent disqualification of a driver’s license can occur if a driver is convicted of two or more violations between the time periods of December 31, 1989 and present day. A temporary disqualification, commonly referred to as a suspension, often results when a driver is convicted of one or more of the following:

  • DUI
  • Leaving an Accident Scene
  • Using a Motor Vehicle During the Act of Committing a Felony
  • Refusal of BAC Testing
  • Reckless Driving
  • Committing Vehicular Manslaughter

Reinstating and Surrendering Your Driver’s License

If a commercial driver’s license has been temporarily disqualified, the driver is required to visit their local driver’s licensing office and surrender their license, accepting a temporary downgrade to a Class E license. Drivers with a Class E license are permitted to operate only non-commercial vehicles. Once the disqualification period has expired, drivers who wish to operate commercial vehicles must revisit their local licensing office and pay a fee to have their CDL privileges reinstated. Failure to do so could mean having these privileges temporarily revoked again.

In some cases, Florida drivers could receive a medical certification disqualification which would need to be addressed by submitting applicable documents or temporarily downgrading to a Class E license as well. During the license reinstatement process, all applicants should be prepared to provide up to date information regarding current address and identification in order to comply with Florida’s regulations.

If your CDL was temporarily disqualified in the state of Florida, adhering to the court mandated reinstatement process is definitely in your best interest. Florida law enforcement is focusing in on the state’s disqualified drivers and applying harsh punishments that could be avoided altogether by taking a trip to your local licensing center. While there may be fees associated with license reinstatement, the price you could pay for failure to comply could wind up costing you much more in the long run. With thousands of disqualified drivers already facing further suspension, climbing behind the wheel without being certain of the condition of your license could mean adding your name to the list.