Most commercial drivers who live in or even just pass through the many highways and interstates that crisscross Ohio know that traffic tickets are serious affairs.

While someone who does not drive for a living may be more than willing just to pay a traffic ticket and move on with life, that strategy can quickly go wrong for a commercial driver.

Employers and insurance companies both pay careful attention to driving records, and a violation can lead to a driver’s getting fired. Self-employed truckers with violations may find their insurance premiums prohibitively expensive and have to close.

Moreover, there are some violations, which regulations classify as major and serious, that can be grounds for a commercial disqualification.

As this blog has discussed before, a disqualification means a person no longer has permission to operate commercial vehicles during the time of disqualification, even if he or she otherwise has a personal driver’s license.

Major violations

The most common major violations involve the use of drugs or alcohol. A conviction for drunk driving or drugged driving, even in one’s personal vehicle, is a major violation. Even if it is not legally an OVI or OWI, driving a commercial vehicle with .04 BAC is also major violation, as is refusing a certified blood or breath test.

For those tempted to drive off after an accident out of fear of getting in trouble, leaving the scene of an accident is also a major violation.

Although not strictly speaking a major violation, certain violation at railroad crossings, including trying to be a train or obstructing the tracks, also carry significant licensing penalties.

Even one major violation is a CDL disqualification for 1 year. If a person was hauling certain types of hazardous materials, the disqualification is for 3 years.

A second violation means the driver will be permanently banned from driving a commercial vehicle, although reinstatement is possible after a decade.

Serious violations

The scary thing about serious violations is that they include many rather common driving behaviors. For instance, traveling more than 15 miles per hour over the posted speed limit is a serious violation.

Likewise, if a law enforcement office accuses a trucker of following too closely or of making illegal lane changes, a conviction will likely result in a serious violation.

The good news is that a driver can only acquire a serious violation if he or she is operating a commercial vehicle. The bad news, though, is that 2 serious violations in a 3-year period requires the driver to serve 60 days of disqualification. For every subsequent serious violation in 3 years, the driver receives 120 days, or about 4 months, of disqualification.

Legal options

Even something as simple as a speeding ticket can cause a huge problem for truckers and other commercial drivers. When faced with a ticket or charge that is a major or serious violation, they may wish to consider their legal options carefully.