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What Are the Penalties For Driving a Semi Truck Without a Commercial Driver’s License?

What Are the Penalties For Driving a Semi Truck Without a Commercial Driver's License?

If you work for someone who’s asking you to drive a large or commercial vehicle without a CDL, agreeing to do so may put you at serious risk. While not all commercial vehicles require a CDL, if your vehicle does it’s not worth risking getting caught without one. The laws surrounding commercial driving are strict — and for good reason — and the penalties for driving a vehicle that requires a CDL without a license you can risk anything from suspension to jail time. Here are some of the penalties you can face if you drive without your commercial license.

Civil Penalties

Some states will make you pay a civil penalty for driving without the appropriate license. Basically, a civil penalty is a fee for potentially endangering the public by doing something risky and illegal. It’s a liability fee and is meant to act as a deterrent to drivers who drive without the appropriate license. Usually, the fee is around $2,500. Often, the driver has to pay for that out of pocket, and if you can’t pay for it you could lose both your CDL and your regular license, as well.

Aggravated Cases

In aggravated cases where criminal penalties are involved, the fine can be up to $5,000. You can also risk 90 days in prison if you’re convicted on an aggravated case. Aggravated cases could include accidents where someone was injured or killed involving a driver who was supposed to have a CDL but didn’t. Other situations can be considered aggravated, as well, such as excessive speeds and other conditions decided by the state.

Employer Penalties

An employer who knowingly forces or permits drivers to operate a commercial vehicle without a valid CDL can face penalties up to $10,000 per driver. Other charges can be filed if the negligence is found to be institutional or purposeful. The employer could lose their business, as well. Employers have no right under current laws to force trucking employees to work over the legal limit of hours, to drive longer than the legal allotment, or to drive without a CDL when one is required. Employees have a right to stand up to these behaviors and raise concerns with the court or union, but they’re often silenced.

If you were forced to drive without a CDL and you were caught, an attorney can help you defend your case in court. At Ticket Void, we’ve worked for years with drivers just like you. We help pair you with a qualified attorney in your area who is vetted and capable of helping you with your specific case. By entering just a few pieces of information about your case, we can find and email you the information of an attorney near you who is best suited to help you with your case. The initial consultation is free, so what do you have to lose? Get started today, and exercise your right to fight.


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