For commercial drivers, will court supervision protect my record? How can I protect myself?

For many people, court supervision is a great option to protect their record.  It can prevent points on your license, insurance rate increases, and protect your public driving record.  Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case for everyone.  For commercial drivers, federal law complicates court supervision.  As a result of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and its policies, states are not allowed to “mask” or hide offenses a commercial driver is found guilty of.  Court supervisions that would ordinarily keep offenses off one’s public record must be reported publicly.  This rule applies regardless of if the offense occurred in your personal vehicle or your commercial vehicle though some violations such as failing to carry a commercial driver’s license require your commercial motor vehicle.  This public reporting can increase your insurance rates for not only your personal policy, but also your company’s policy as your record affects your employer’s Department of Transportation number by which rates are calculated.

While commercial drivers don’t generally enjoy protection for supervision, there are instance where a commercial driver may receive those benefits.  In general, supervision will prevent an offense from being public on the record if the ticket was issued prior to issuance of a commercial driver’s license, commercial learner’s permit, or beginning of training for a commercial driver’s license.  If a ticket was issued prior to these instances, the driver is not held to the standards of the FMCSA and public reporting of supervisions are not required.   For an accounting of whether your offense can benefit from this exception, you should contact a traffic attorney to review your ticket and driving record.

Due to the public reporting requirement, your only options to protect your record is to win at trial or have the ticket amended to a non-moving violation.  Unlike publicly reported offenses, Illinois is not required to report the non-moving violations of commercial drivers.  Common non-moving amendments change moving violations to offenses such as improper parking, loud muffler, cracked or obstructed windshield, overlength vehicle, and failure to obey traffic laws.  These are often called equipment violations.  It is important to have an attorney review your offense to determine whether it is a moving violation as some offenses such as broken headlights are categorized as moving violations in spite of being an equipment issue.

In closing, It’s important to take caution when considering court supervision.  Even well intentioned police officers encourage supervision for commercial drivers when unaware of the risk to their livelihood.  Know the risks of requesting supervision before seeking it and consider consulting an attorney for a consultation to ensure you protect your record.