When you drive your personal vehicle and get a warning – it’s just that, a true warning. The rules of the road change, though, when commercial trucking is involved. Because safety is such a significant issue for the industry and a warning could reflect problems in the overall way a brand is operating, a warning ticket is a far more severe thing for a commercial driver than it is for someone driving their own personal vehicle.
What is a warning ticket?
When one of your drivers is pulled over, the officer has several options; these options can impact both the individual driver and the company they are working for. A warning ticket is one of these options and can have a lasting impact on how your brand performs and your status with the FMCSA. Once a police officer determines that your driver is in violation of a traffic or safety law, they can give a warning or a citation.
Citations go into the legal system and can be pursued or defended in state court. A citation that results in a lost case or a guilty plea on part of the plaintiff is a conviction. This can be serious because a conviction can be placed on both the driver’s CDL and their moving violation record. A driver with a conviction also reflects poorly on your business and safety record and can impact you in more ways than one.
Warning tickets and citations are often given based on a driver’s activities and actions, but they can be presented after a roadside inspection as well. A violation of this type will appear in both a driver’s Pre-employment Screening Program record, but it could also show up in the carrier’s online SMS (Safety Measurement System) details. Roadside inspection violations and data that a business believes are inaccurate or that offer incomplete data can be contested in the DataQs system.
Something else to keep in mind is that a violation can be issued along with a warning or citation, and if a business wants to contest both the violation and the citation, they would have to do so separately. (This means they would have to go through the appropriate process for contesting the citation and the appropriate process for contesting the violation.) DataQs is a Federal program, not a state one, so this is where motor carriers can have incorrect roadside inspection information removed if needed. Citations, on the other hand, are at the state level and so are brought to state court.
Understanding how warning tickets work will ensure both driver and organization take them seriously and that any tickets are handled promptly and correctly. Failure to understand the seriousness of a warning or to take action after a violation is a costly error.
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