How to Protect your CDL

Written by Ashley Johnson

Mar 25, 2020

03/25/2020

Professional truck drivers must rely on their Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) every single day. Which is why it is very important to protect it at all costs. It is the tool that gets your foot in the door of the transportation industry and is ultimately the backbone of your trucking career. The slightest error can result in losing your license and potentially hindering you, from being able to drive for another trucking company. Losing your license could result in you being out of work for more than a year, which could make it hard for you to provide for your family. Mesilla Valley Transportation wants to give truck drivers several tips on how to properly maintain their CDL.

Avoid Violations

Getting violations can add points to your CDL, which can ultimately put you at risk of losing your license. Drivers should never speed! Speed limits are there for a reason. Always wear your seatbelt while driving. Click it or get a ticket. Drinking and driving is not tolerated or acceptable at any trucking company. Your CDL can be disqualified if you have a BAC (blood alcohol concentration) of 0.04% or higher while driving a commercial vehicle. If there is any amount of alcohol in your system you can also be placed out of service for 24 hours. One mistake can change your trucking career forever. Safety should be your number one priority. It is important for you to be aware of the things that can be the difference between losing or keeping you license.

Maintain your CDL

It’s important that you take the necessary steps in maintaining your CDL. Your license remains valid for 5-8 years (depending on your state of residence), after which you will have to go through the renewal process. However, there are some things to keep in mind while maintaining the validity of your CDL during those five years.

One being getting your physical exam. Every truck driver must take and pass a physical exam, where they measure if you are fit to drive a large piece of machinery. For drivers in good health, physicals are typically required every two years. While drivers who might have preexisting health conditions that may affect their driving performance, may have to get a physical every six months.  Living a healthy lifestyle can help you pass your physical exam.

Equipment

It is vital that drivers make sure they do their Pre-Trip inspections. You don’t want something as simple as a vehicle maintenance violation to impact your Motor Vehicle Record (MVR). It is important that you immediately report any findings on your truck that an inspector may have missed. Doing this can be the difference in you being held responsible for wrecking a truck that had preexisting issues. Overall, speak up! Never drive a truck that you know has problems.

Obey the Law

Keeping a clean driving record and criminal record plays a key factor in protecting your license. But it’s also something that you should keep in mind 24/7, especially while behind the wheel of a truck. Any DUIs, and/or reckless driving can result in the suspension or revoking of your CDL.

Make Sure your CDL isn’t Suspended

It is important for you to know if your license is suspended before getting on the road. The length of your CDL suspension will depend on the offense. You can refer to your department of motor vehicle suspension notice or check with your state DMV website to find out more information, as it relates to your specific circumstance. Many drivers have gone over the road and discover at the inspection point, that their license is suspended. Which resulted in them not being able deliver their loads. Always be aware of your license status.  

Work for a Company that has Cameras in their Trucks

It’s important that drivers understand cameras are placed inside their truck for their safety, not to be a Peeping Tom. Cameras are in place for one reason; to protect you and your CDL. They are silent witnesses that give you extended protection. According to keeptrucking.com, passenger vehicles are at fault in almost 85 percent of truck-passenger vehicle collisions, yet commercial drivers are more likely to take the blame. In the case of an accident, safety personnel can view the camera footage to see what exactly led up to the collision and who is at fault. This gives drivers peace-of-mind knowing that the footage will be captured. Also, it is very important to keep your camera uncovered at all times. When your camera is covered and an incident happens, no one can clearly distinguish what happened, which can result in the termination of the driver, and the revoking of their CDL.

Avoid Failing a Drug Test

Earning the title “truck driver” is a heavy load to carry and comes with great responsibility. In knowing this, you also need to know your truck can be a lethal weapon. Being under the influence of drugs impairs your ability to operate that weapon, putting your life and others in danger. Even if marijuana is legal in your state of residence, it is not legal for you. According to the Department of Transportation’s Office (DOT) of Drug and Alcohol Policy, drivers are expected to keep THC out of their systems. Even though marijuana is legal in over half the U.S. the federal government still considers it a Schedule I drug. Meaning the government classifies marijuana in the same category as heroin. At MVT, you will be drug tested before stepping foot into a truck, as well as randomly throughout your time with us. If you fail one test, you will lose your CDL.

U.S. Legal

U.S. Legal Services helps make legal representation more affordable and accessible. They are there to assist drivers when they have a hiccup. They work to keep points off your record, reduce fines, and keep your CDL from being suspended or revoked. Plus, they have a very high success rate of getting the citations dismissed. For CDL defenders, U.S. Legal Offers a legal benefit that pays your attorney fees for all covered legal matters. You and your spouse are covered for all non-criminal moving, non-moving, and DOT violations both personal and commercial. This benefit costs only $6.91 per pay period. For more information, visit www.USLegalservices.net or call 800-356-LAWS.  

Don’t Break the Rules

Every trucking company has their own set of rules and regulations and it is essential to follow them. They exist for your safety, the safety of others, and the financial investments of the company (amongst other things). Companies invest a lot of money into each driver therefore, it is vital drivers respect and follow the rules that are in place.

Mesilla Valley Transportation strives for all our drivers to be safe, happy, and successful. At the end of the day, we’re family. Wherever you are in your transportation journey, we want you to be informed and prepared. We hire qualified professionals that work hard and enjoy tackling those miles. If you are looking for a trucking home, visit www.driveformvt.com for more information.  

Drive for MVT

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