The CDL Driver and Legal Representation
With the abundance of online advice, company assistance, and “legal alternatives”, does today’s savvy commercial driver still need legal protection? Legal plans have long sold that the career driver needs to have CDL protection lined up, to guard against job-threatening citations. Well, believe it or not, the answer would seem to be, “more than ever.”
The deck has always been stacked against the commercial driver. There are enforcement agencies with stealthy but real revenue quotas, and the answer for that will always be the commercial vehicle, as opposed to personal four-wheelers. A truck doing 72 will get pulled over before the sedan doing 80, because there are more revenue and safety issues at hand with that truck. That’s the way it’s always been.
Now comes CSA, with the ominous SMS number attached to and hanging over the career of every driver. CSA is actually more demanding on the commercial driver than the CDL was back in 1991. It is a safety initiative that affects the driver’s employability, and his/her company’s operation. A driver absolutely must now challenge every safety violation that puts points on his MVR, and inspection infractions that drive up his SMS score.
The CSA initiative has increased the real driver shortage in America today. It essentially “ranks” truck drivers, by that SMS number. The drivers at the bottom of the rankings become unemployable, just like the coaches for the lowest ranked teams get fired. Companies cannot take a litigation risk by putting a documented “bad driver” in a truck on today’s busy highways.
So, why “more than ever” do drivers need legal representation? Because now the CDL minefield has doubled. Not only can traditional MVR bad marks cost you a job, but that SMS score is even more likely to send you home without pay, to paint the fence and wonder how to make family ends meet. One of America’s oldest CDL defense law firms, Drivers Legal Plan, has been in business since the advent of the CDL. They are an actual law firm, not just a referral agency, and have handled over 300,000 CDL defense cases over those 23 years, and have been able to favorably affect an amazing 95% of those citations.
As you have no doubt heard, effective, August 23, 2014, the FMCSA will change its policy on previously adjudicated cases and will accept properly documented court judgments reflecting not guilty verdicts, dismissals and amendments as evidence and will reduce or remove the points associated with the alleged violation accordingly. This change means that the Drivers Legal Plan law firm, with its long history in CDL defense and its historical favorable affect rate, will now be able to translate those court decisions into the DataQ process positively impacting both a driver and carriers SMS score. This will not compromise the effectiveness of the safety initiative itself, it only finally ensures that the drivers’ jobs are duly protected by constitutional due process like the rest of us Americans.
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