Commercial Licenses

Commercial drivers come under additional scrutiny if they are cited for a violation that involves control of their vehicle, or that involves compliance with a law or regulation specifically tailored to commercial vehicle operations. The long and the short of this is simply to state that CDL holders start from a weakened position when it comes to plea negotiation for deferred adjudication.

For example, Article 45.0511 of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure, specifically states the statute (which authorizes defensive driving and driving safety courses) does not apply to a person who holds a commercial driver’s license, or who held a commercial driver’s license at the time the offense was committed.

For example, a defendant may not be granted deferred disposition for a moving violation committed by the holder of a commercial driver’s license.

Nor is it available for violation of a state law or local ordinance relating to “motor vehicle control,” other than a parking violation committed by a person who holds a commercial driver’s license or held a commercial driver’s license at the time of the offense. Article 45.051(f)(2) of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure.

For example, a court may dismiss a charge if the defendant: operates or moves or, as an owner, knowingly permits another to operate or move a vehicle (not a commercial motor vehicle) that: is unsafe as to endanger a person; is not equipped in a manner required by Chapter 543 Texas Transportation Code.; is equipped in a manner prohibited by Chapter 543 T.C.; or operates a vehicle that has been determined in a compliance proceeding under Section 547.206, Texas Transportation Code, not to comply with a DPS standard; remedies the defect before the defendant’s first court appearance.

However, some offenses are readily discharged, even for CDL holders:

For example, if the passenger car or commercial motor vehicle was issued a registration insignia by the Department of Motor Vehicles that establishes that the vehicle was registered for the period during which the offense was committed; and the registration insignia was attached to the car or vehicle before the defendant’s first court appearance. In such cases the defendant must still pay an administrative fee not to exceed $10.

So, for CDL holders the options are two fold: set a case for a plea and hope that the prosecutor or magistrate is not familiar enough with the law, or that the offense charged is not clearly one that involves a moving violation or a violation of 543 or 547 of the Texas Transportation Code, or set a case for trial to a jury, which has the ability to nullify the law (of course there is a risk of a judgment notwithstanding the verdict, or an appeal in such cases).