Commerce, TX CDL Violations
Texas Point System and Commerce CDL Disqualification
It seems there has always been a lot of confusion about the Texas Point System and how it affected suspensions of Commercial Driver Licenses. The truth is the number of “Points” a CDL driver had against his driver license has never had any effect on whether that driver’s CDL can or will be suspended or disqualified. The Texas Point System was only a way for the State of Texas to access and collect “Surcharges.” Convictions for certain violations meant that you received “points.” The more points you had, the more money you owed in surcharges. Moreover, the Texas Point System was abolished on September 1, 2019. So, as of that date, there is no longer a Texas Point System or surcharges. Even when the Texas Point System was in effect, it had nothing to do with commercial driver license suspensions.
Whether a CDL gets suspended or disqualified remains a function of the number and types of traffic violations of which a CDL holder is convicted. The Texas Transportation Code provides for suspension and disqualification periods ranging from 60 days to lifetime. Whether a suspension or disqualification of a CDL is appropriate, and the length of the suspension depends on the violation and/or a combination of violations.
If the Texas Department of Public Safety (“TxDPS”) is trying to revoke, suspend or disqualify your CDL, you have options. Suspending or disqualifying a CDL is a legal proceeding, during which you may assert procedural and substantive defenses. You CAN have your day in court, and with qualified legal counsel, you can WIN! To start the suspension process, TxDPS must send you a letter notifying you that it is pursuing a suspension of your CDL. You only have 20 days from the date of the letter in which to request a hearing. Failure to timely request a hearing will result in a loss of your CDL. So, you must act fast.
With over 29 years of experience, the attorneys with the Law Office of Todd E. Tkach, P.C., have developed successful strategies to win CDL revocation, suspension and disqualification hearings. Our overall strategy is simple, but the details can be rather complex. Our strategy is multi-faceted, including an analysis of the procedural and substantive laws, common law and the evidence against you. With our decades of experience and knowledge of the law, we have developed sound techniques and proven strategies resulting in an amazing record of success.
What is the procedure for the Texas Department of Public Safety to Revoke, Suspend of Disqualify a CDL?
All Texas driver licenses are issued by the Texas Department of Public Safety (“TxDPS”). This government agency has the power to authorize and issue all driver licenses, including CDL’s. Conversely, TxDPS also the power to take away driving privileges, including revoking, suspending or disqualifying all Texas driver licenses and to prohibit anyone from driving in Texas, even those who don’t have a Texas driver's license.
All TxDPS actions to remove your driving privileges begin with reports to TxDPS that you have committed certain violations, that, if true, are cause for a loss of driving privileges. Upon receiving such information, TxDPS, must, by law, mail you a letter notifying you of their action. The letter is mailed to the last address that it has on file for you. From the date of the letter, you have 20 days within which to request a hearing of the matter. Failure to request a hearing within 20 days from the date of that notice letter will result in a revocation, suspension or disqualification of your CDL.
If you receive a notice letter from TxDPS, call us immediately! We will take care of everything from beginning to end. First, we will immediately request a hearing with TxDPS through its’ online hearing request portal. This accomplishes 2 things: i) makes the request timely (within 20 days), and ii) sends the request through a verifiable medium, so that there’s no question about whether TxDPS received the request.
The next step is for us to examine the facts, evidence and the applicable law of your case, paying special attention to the procedural laws, substantive laws and all applicable common laws. Prior to the hearing, TxDPS will send to us the evidence it has against you. Once we receive the evidence, we review it to determine any legal or factual defenses and will likely call you to discuss it.
Next, we will attend your hearing. TxDPS will send us a notice of the date, time and location of your hearing. By law, the hearing must be scheduled in the county of residence of the driver license holder, in one of the Justice of the Peace courts. At the hearing, we will advance our proven winning strategies to argue the facts, the law and the evidence on your behalf. At the conclusion of the hearing, the judge will make a decision about the case. Specifically, the judge will issue an “Affirmative Finding,” or a “Negative Finding.” With a Negative Finding, you win, your driving privileges remain intact, and you may continue driving for pay. With an Affirmative Finding, your driving privileges will be revoked, suspended or disqualified. Although, with a suspension, but not a revocation or disqualification, the judge may probate the sentence, which allows you to retain your driving privileges during the period of suspension. This is discussed in greater detail below.
At the conclusion of the hearing, we will notify you of the result and instruct you on anything that needs to be done. In the case of an Affirmative Finding that is not probated, any revocation, suspension or disqualification begins on the 11th day after the judgment from the Court. An Affirmative Finding can be appealed, but in most cases is not worth pursuing. We can evaluate your case for appeal on a case by case basis.
Even if you did exactly what TxDPS claims that you did to justify the loss of your driving privileges, we may still get a favorable result at the hearing. Remember, TxDPS has the burden of proof. If they can’t prove the charges against you, they fail, and you retain your driving privileges. That’s why we attack every aspect of the case, including procedurally, substantively, evidentiary and with all possible common law defenses. Our record of success is fantastic! On many occasions, we stopped the loss of driving privileges, even when our clients did exactly what TxDPS accused them of doing.
What is the difference between a revocation, a suspension and a disqualification?
CDL drivers can be subjected to revocations, suspensions and/or disqualifications. The difference is that commercial drivers can be disqualified for violations of “CDL disqualification statutes,” but can also be revoked and suspended for violations that would cause a revocation or suspension of a non-CDL holder.
A revocation of a driver license means that driving privileges are withdrawn by TxDPS, subject to possible reinstatement if the driver license holder “cures” the problem that caused the revocation, such as obtaining a current medical certificate. Both CDL’s and non-CDL’s can be revoked with the possibility of reinstatement if cured by the license holder.
A “suspension” of a driver license means that driving privileges are removed for a specific time period, such as 30 days, or 60 days. After the expiration of the time period, the driver license is immediately eligible for reinstatement. Additionally, with a suspension, the judge can “probate” the suspension, which allows the driver license holder to retain their driving privileges during the suspension period. Both CDL’s and non-CDL’s can be suspended and their suspensions can be probated.
A CDL “disqualification” means that, like suspensions, driving privileges are removed for a specific time period. The CDL is eligible for reinstatement immediately upon expiration of the disqualification time period. The difference from a suspension is that with a disqualification, the judge can NOT “probate” the disqualification time period.
Why you should fight TxDPS’ actions to revoke, suspend or disqualify your CDL?
There are dozens of potential violations or combinations of violations that could result in a revocation, suspension or disqualification of a Texas CDL. The time periods for loss of driving privileges can range from 30-days to a lifetime.
It’s also important to understand that TxDPS can seek a revocation, suspension or disqualification for these violations, even if they occurred out of state, or while driving non-commercial vehicles. Additionally, there are no “harmless” traffic citations for CDL holders. While it is true that there are some single traffic violations, the conviction of which can cause the loss of driving privileges, there are others that, if taken in combination, can have the same result. For example, convictions of 4 non-moving violations in 12 months can cause a suspension. So, the bottom line is: Fight all traffic tickets!
Just because TxDPS tries to take away your driving privileges, does not mean that they will win. With many of our cases, we achieved a Negative Finding from the court, thereby preserving our clients’ CDL’s, even when our clients did exactly what TxDPS accused them of doing. Additionally, if you timely request a hearing, the TxDPS action against you is “stayed” until a final ruling by the judge. So, you can continue to drive commercially while the court proceeding against you is still pending, but only if you timely request a hearing.
Regardless of the violation or combination of violations involved, the attorneys with Todd E. Tkach, P.C. will carefully analyze your case, apply the relevant procedural and substantive laws to the specific facts of your case and develop a winning strategy. Our goal is to preserve your driving privileges so that you can continue commercial driving.
If my CDL is revoked, suspended or disqualified, can I still continue to drive?
Even if your CDL is suspended, or disqualified, it is possible to continue driving, legally! It’s called an Occupational Driver License, which allows you to continue to legally drive if you have an “essential need.” The time periods and places you can drive are restricted, but it gets you back on the road. However, an Occupational Driver License does NOT allow you to drive commercially. The purpose is to allow you to drive legally for “household” purposes. Additionally, you cannot get an Occupational Driver License if your license is “revoked.” The only way to regain driving privileges from a revocation is to cure the reason for the revocation. Obtaining an Occupational Driver License is a separate legal proceeding, which can be tricky to obtain. Call us if you need an Occupational Driver License.
Don’t forget – time is of the essence! If you receive a revocation, suspension or disqualification notice letter from TxDPS, call us immediately to talk with one of our attorneys.
CDL Revocation, Suspension or Disqualification
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