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‘Major’ offenses can mean major suspension time

By Jami Jones
senior editor

Truckers in most states are now subject to a list of “major” offenses that carry possible lifetime CDL suspensions.

The regulations designating these “major” offenses went into effect in September 2002. States had three years to get in compliance – or face losing some federal funding.

That three-year deadline passed the end of  September, and all but a handful of states are on board with the new regs.

Just how many states are still not in compliance with the regulations was a toss-up at press time.

According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, it was four states. A spokesman for the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators said the number of non-compliant states was 11.

Any state not in compliance with the regulations now lose federal funding.

Nevertheless, truckers in most states now have nine offenses that, no matter if they commit them in their truck or personal vehicle, carry some hefty suspension time.

Some of those “major” offenses include: being under the influence of alcohol; being under the influence of a controlled substance; having an alcohol concentration of 0.04 or greater while operating a CMV; refusing to take an alcohol test; leaving the scene of an accident; and causing a fatality through the negligent operation of a CMV.

And, you do not have to be in your truck and committing one of these offenses to face CDL suspension. Offenses in a personal vehicle count now, too.

All of the offenses, with exception of one, carry either a one-year or three-year suspension of the trucker’s CDL after the first offense – depending on what the trucker was hauling – and a possible life suspension of the CDL after the second.

FMCSA allows states to reinstate the trucker’s license after 10 years if the person has completed a state-approved rehabilitation program. That 10-year reinstatement provision is not mandated, it’s up to the individual states.

The one major offense that carries a mandatory life suspension with no chance of reinstatement after 10 years is using the vehicle in the commission of a felony involving manufacturing, distributing or dispensing a controlled substance.

For a complete list of the major offenses and suspension times, review 49 CFR 383.51, of your current green book.