Driving while fatigued is a dangerous practice police officers in Ohio strive to prevent. Yet some police officers ticket commercial drivers who are not guilty of drowsy driving or conduct traffic stops without probable cause to do so.
If a drowsy driving ticket goes to court, it will be the prosecutor’s burden to prove the commercial driver is more likely guilty than not. Otherwise, the courts may dismiss the traffic ticket.
FMCSA hours of service regulations
It is better to prevent a traffic ticket than to fight one. Avoiding drowsy driving as a commercial driver takes obeying the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s hours of service regulations. These rules impose an 11-hour and 14-consecutive-hour driving maximum on commercial truckers after 10 hours of consecutive off-duty time. The FMCSA also enforces 30-minute breaks and 60/70-hour limits per seven to eight consecutive workdays. Obeying federal hours of service laws can help truckers prevent driving drowsy.
Burden of proof in a traffic ticket case
If a truck driver wishes to fight a CDL traffic ticket for driving while fatigued, he or she will appear at the appointed court date to challenge the infraction. The driver has the option of hiring an attorney to protect his or her best interests during the traffic court hearing. The prosecution will have a burden to prove the trucker is guilty based on a preponderance of evidence. This is a lower burden of proof than in criminal cases.
Common types of evidence used against drowsy truck drivers
The prosecution may use eyewitness accounts, police dashboard camera footage of the traffic stop or an officer’s personal account of what happened to try to prove the truck driver’s guilt. However, these cases can be hard to prove. It is often difficult for the prosecution to gather evidence of drowsy driving. Finding evidence may take a thorough investigation. The defendant’s side of the case will offer its defense, and then a judge will determine whether the defendant is guilty based on the evidence provided.