Michigan residents who hold a commercial driver’s license may already know that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration holds them to a higher standard than “civilian” drivers are. For example, if a truck driver refuses to participate in an alcohol breath test, it is the same as admitting to a DUI. The FMCSA takes traffic tickets more seriously as well. In fact, a truck driver’s actions on the road can have a detrimental effect on the company for which he or she drives.
The FMCSA no longer uses the Compliance, Safety and Accountability Points system for violations. Now, it uses the Safety Measurement System, which breaks down violations into seven Behavior Analysis and Safety Improvement Categories. Certain violations are broken down within these categories and the fleet is assigned points for every violation. A company with enough points can expect the FMCSA to intervene in its operations.
What does this mean for drivers? Well, not only do traffic violations count against their CDLs, but their employers may also take notice if a particular driver is causing them to earn points under the SMS, which could put their livelihood in jeopardy. For instance, a driver caught using a cellphone behind the wheel earns the company a violation under the “unsafe driving” category in the BASIC, valued at 10 points. Speeding falls under several point values, depending on the miles per hour driven over the speed limit.
Michigan CDL holders probably would not want to find themselves in a position of causing their employers to earn points under the system and scrutiny by the FMCSA. For this reason alone, it would be a good idea to challenge any traffic violation, especially if it could fall under a higher point value. The stakes are high for commercial drivers who receive traffic tickets, and it would probably help to work with an attorney to either reduce or dismiss the violation in order to avoid any repercussions to their licenses or their employers.