Florida Statute Section 318.14(9) expressly prohibits persons who hold a CDL from making an election with the clerk of court to attend the driver improvement course in exchange for a “withholding of adjudication” disposition for their traffic tickets. A withhold of adjudication would otherwise have avoided the imposition of points on the motorist’s driving record. In addition, pursuant to Florida Statute Section 322.01(11)(a)&(b), Florida judges are prohibited from withholding adjudication if the CDL driver pleads “guilty” or “no contest” to the traffic ticket. If the driver were to be “found guilty” after a trial, the judge is also prohibited from withholding adjudication under the same statute numbers. It is noteworthy that this prohibition resulted because of the 2005 passage of Florida Statute Section 322.01(11)(a)&(b) that “adopted” the broad federal definition of “conviction” as found under federal law in 49 C.F.R. Part 383.5.
What if my Judge is Unaware of this Prohibition?
In the past, many Deputy Clerk’s of Court were unaware that CDL holders were ineligible to make the “driver improvement election” so as to avoid points on their driving record. Some judges were likewise unaware that they lacked authority to withhold adjudication when a CDL driver appeared before them in the courtroom. However, that situation was recently rectified by the Division of Motorists Services (DHSMV). On January 8th, 2014, the DHSMV sent a blast email to all law enforcement agencies, the Florida Association of Court Clerks and to all Clerks of Court. Not only did the memorandum bring the aforementioned Florida statutes to everyone’s attention, but it also indicated that DHSMV intended to take action on their own part. More specifically, DHSMV indicated that any time they receive a transmittal notice from the Clerk’s office that reflected a CDL driver had received a withhold of adjudication they will be sending the transmittal back to the clerk marked as an “error.” The detection of the error and corrective measures employed by DHSMV are an automated function through “TCATS,” the Traffic Citation Accounting Transmission System.
Another Lawyer Told Me He Could Get Me a Withhold of Adjudication!
If you hold a commercial drivers license and you recently received a traffic ticket, then you are most likely dismayed by the information presented above. If you spoke with another lawyer who told you that you may be a good candidate to receive a withhold of adjudication in your case, we recommend that you proceed cautiously. It could be that the lawyer you spoke to lacks the proper background and experience in this area of the law. We have found that many lawyers incorrectly “assume” that holders of CDL licenses have the same options available to them as those drivers holding a standard “Class E” license. However, the simple fact that you hold a CDL causes you to be held to a higher standard of care. For example, it is a common misconception that if the traffic infraction occurred when the holder of a commercial drivers license was not operating a commercial vehicle, that his status somehow changes for purposes of avoiding points on his driving record. If you suspect that a Florida lawyer is “telling you what you want to hear” so that he can “shoot the lock off of your wallet,” I suggest that you have him read this article.
How We Can Help
The lawyers in our office recognize that your driver’s license is important. In fact, we both know that your livelihood would likely be jeopardized if you lost your commercial driving privilege.
The CDL disqualification provisions set forth under 49 C.F.R 383.51 are complex. Some motor vehicle violations will have no affect on your CDL privilege. While other violations are designated as either “major violations” or “serious violations.” Each category carries different ramifications. In some cases, it becomes necessary to establish if the violation occurred while operating a commercial vehicle as opposed to your personal vehicle. Thereafter, “Disqualification” periods are set in stone, at 60 days, 120 days, 6 month, 12 months, 3 years, 10 years or lifetime intervals. The period of time is governed by the nature of the offense and your prior driving record.
When you schedule a free consultation with a lawyer in our office, the first thing we will do is print a copy of your lifetime Florida driving record. This will assist us in ascertaining the extent of your exposure to a CDL disqualification. We can then review the facts and circumstances of your case and determine both the strengths and weaknesses of the current charge.
- Let us consider whether a trial on the charge is in your best interest;
- We can discuss the possibility of seeking a formal amendment of the violation. With this strategy, such an amendment would result in changing the motor vehicle violation you are facing. As such, it could move you to a less serious category or result in a charge for which there is no ramifications to your CDL privilege.
The attorneys in our office handle a large number of traffic tickets, criminal traffic offenses and DUI cases arising out of Pinellas County. Call us to Schedule a free consultation.
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