A speeding ticket or traffic citation for a CDL driver can have a serious effect on their employment. While a non-CDL driver may be eligible for traffic school to keep a traffic citation off their driving record, there are some limitaitons on what Courts are allowed to do with citations for CDL drivers.
49 CFR § 384.226- Prohibition on masking convictions:
The State must not mask, defer imposition of judgment, or allow an individual to enter into a diversion program that would prevent a CLP or CDL holder’s conviction for any violation, in any type of motor vehicle, of a State or local traffic control law (other than parking, vehicle weight, or vehicle defect violations) from appearing on the CDLIS driver record, whether the driver was convicted for an offense committed in the State where the driver is licensed or another State.
A CDL driver may appear before a judge who indicates their hands are tied and they have no options but to either find the CDL driver guilty or not guilty. As stated above in the federal anti-masking statute, the Court cannot mask a CDL driver’s traffic conviction, defer judgment, or allow them to enter into a diversion program (such as traffic school).
While the Court may be limited in options once there is a conviction (a finding of guilt), the Department of Safety’s website provides additional information on the subject. According to www.tn.gov, a judge MAY downgrade a traffic offense, find the driver not guilty, or plea bargain the charge as long as those actions take place BEFORE a conviction. This does not require the Court to allow plea bargaining or downgrading, but it does provide authority for the Court to rely on should the Court want to assist the CDL holder.
If you find yourself in this situation, it may be beneficial for you to provide this authority to the Court, in a tactful way, to educate the Court on additional options the Department of Safety provides.