Topic:
FINES; MOTOR VEHICLES; TRUCKS; TRAFFIC REGULATIONS;
Location:
TRAFFIC REGULATIONS;

OLR Research Report


August 17, 2000

 

2000-R-0790

FINES AND OTHER SANCTIONS APPLICABLE TO COMMERCIAL VEHICLE DRIVERS CONVICTED OF SPEEDING

By: James J. Fazzalaro, Principal Research Analyst

You asked several questions regarding the sanctions applicable to commercial vehicle drivers convicted of speeding, specifically:

1. Are speeding fines different for trucks than cars?

2. Do fines and other punitive measures increase with successive offenses?

3. Are other sanctions different than for drivers of noncommercial vehicles?

4. Are there sanctions other than fines that are levied that may be considered a deterrent to speeding or reckless driving?

5. How long are offenses kept on a truck driver's record for purposes of determining subsequent offenses?

6. Is an employer or contractor who hired the driver committing the infraction penalized as well as the driver?

SUMMARY

Truck drivers must pay higher fines than other drivers for speeding offenses that occur on limited access highways, but are subject to the same fines for offenses that occur on other types of roads. Speeding fines do not increase for either truck or car drivers for successive offenses. Besides fines, violators may be subject to license suspensions for repeated violations. While Connecticut law specifically prohibits someone's license from being suspended by the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) until the fourth speeding conviction within a two-year period, certain truck and bus drivers are subject to stricter requirements for maintaining their qualifications to drive commercial motor vehicles after being convicted of two serious traffic violations within a three-year period.

These offenses include driving more than 15 miles per hour above a posted speed limit, reckless driving, following another vehicle too closely, and using the restricted left-hand lane on a limited access highway. The disqualification period doubles for a third conviction. Drivers subject to these requirements are those who drive larger trucks (over 26,000 pounds gross vehicle weight), motor buses and school buses, and vehicles transporting placarded hazardous materials.

These drivers must report convictions for violating any traffic control laws that occur anywhere in the United States or Canada to their employers within 30 days and any suspension or revocation of their license or operating privileges or any driving disqualification by the end of the next business day following its occurrence. These drivers must also notify the Connecticut DMV commissioner of any conviction for a traffic law violation that occurs in another state or Canada. Employers cannot knowingly permit or require such a driver to drive when he is suspended, disqualified, or subject to an “out-of-service” order.

Connecticut law defines prior offenses, except in three instances, as those that occur within a three-year period. For drunk driving, driving under suspension, and evading responsibility after an accident, prior offenses are counted for 10 years.

Employers or contractors are not generally punished for speeding offenses committed by their employees, but, as noted above, if a driver has been suspended or disqualified from driving for serious traffic violations and the employer knowingly permits or requires him to drive, the employer can be fined.

SPEEDING FINES

The law makes truck drivers subject to higher fines for speeding on limited access highways but generally not on other roads. On non-limited access highways, truck drivers who exceed the posted speed limit are subject to the same infraction fine schedule as noncommercial vehicle drivers for illegal speeds of up to 56 miles per hour (mph) (CGS 14-218a). By law, several other surcharges, assessments, and other costs must be added to the fines assessed for most traffic offenses, including speed-related violations, for things such as the Special Transportation Fund, police training, court costs, and criminal injury compensation. Thus, on non-limited access highways, all offenders generally will pay a total amount that ranges from $78 to $166, depending on how much their speed exceeded the posted limit. The law also subjects speeding violations to an additional surcharge equal to the assessed fine if the offense occurs in a marked construction zone, utility work zone, or school zone. Thus, once again depending on the actual speed above the posted limit, amounts due could range from $113 to $256 if the offense occurs in a construction or utility work zone and $148 to $346 if it occurs in a construction or utility work zone and a school zone (CGS 14-212a, -212b).

Illegal speeds of 56 mph or more are punished under a different statute (CGS 14-219). Under this law, trucks are subject to higher fines than noncommercial vehicles. Specifically, noncommercial vehicles traveling between 56 and 70 mph on a limited access highway are subject to a sliding infraction fine scale while trucks traveling at these same speeds are subject to a fine of $100 to $150. With the additional surcharges and assessments, drivers of noncommercial vehicles have to pay total amounts in the range of $93 to $181. Truck drivers operating at these same illegal speeds have to pay total amounts of $198 to $263. (If the offense occurs in a construction or utility work zone, noncommercial drivers must pay $128 to $193 while truck drivers must pay $298 to $403; if the offense also occurs in a school zone these ranges are $163 to $253 and $398 to $543 respectively.)

For illegal speeds of 71 to 75 mph, noncommercial vehicle drivers must pay a total amount of $198 and truck drivers must pay $295 ($298 and $455 respectively if special zone additives apply). For illegal speeds of 76 to 80 mph, noncommercial vehicle drivers must pay a total amount of $239 while truck drivers must pay $328 ($364 and $508 respectively if special zone additives apply).

For illegal speeds of 81 to 85 mph, noncommercial vehicle drivers must pay a total of $279 while truck drivers pay $360 ($429 and $560 respectively if special zone additives apply).

Table 1 shows these relative amounts in tabular form for easier comparison. Although the law specifies special additives for violations that occur in school zones, they have been omitted from the table since these are unlikely to exist on limited access highways.

Table 1. Comparative Fines for Truck and Car Drivers for Speeding on Limited Access Highways

SPEEDS ABOVE POSTED 55 MPH LIMIT*

CARS

TRUCKS

CARS (CONSTRUCTION OR UTILITY WORK ZONE)

TRUCKS (CONSTRUCTION OR UTILITY WORK ZONE)

56-60 mph

$93

$198

$128

$298

61-65 mph

$93-$100

$230

$128-$140

$350

66-70 mph

$107-$133

$263

$195-$253

$403

71-75 mph

$198

$295

$298

$455

76-80 mph

$239

$328

$364

$508

81-85 mph

$279

$360

$429

$560

*For limited access highways posted with a 65 mph speed limit, noncommercial vehicle drivers must pay $93 for speeds up to 70 mph and the amounts shown in Table 1 for speeds over 70 mph. Truck drivers pay the amounts shown in the table.

LICENSE SUSPENSION SANCTIONS

By law, except for three serious offenses, a second or subsequent violation of a motor vehicle law is considered to be an offense that is committed no more than three years after an arrest that resulted in a previous conviction for a violation of the same statutory provision.

For drunk driving; driving while a license or registration is refused, suspended, or revoked; and evading responsibility after an accident, the “look-back” period for determining prior offenses is 10 years (CGS 14-1(69)).

The law prohibits the DMV commissioner from suspending anyone's driver's license or nonresident operating privilege until the fourth time he is convicted of violating the speeding statute (CGS 14-219, but not 14-218a) within a two-year period, unless the court recommends a suspension for up to 30 days. On a fourth speeding conviction, the DMV commissioner must suspend the license or operating privilege for up to 30 days; for a fifth conviction for up to 60 days; and for a sixth conviction for up to six months (CGS 14-111b).

Different requirements apply to anyone driving a commercial motor vehicle that under state and federal law requires the driver to hold a Commercial Drivers License (CDL). A CDL is required for anyone driving a vehicle (1) with a gross vehicle weight rating of 26,001 pounds or more; (2) designed to transport 16 or more passengers, including the driver, or 10 or more passengers, including the driver, if the passengers are students under age 21 and they are being driven to and from school; or (3) transporting hazardous materials that require warning placards under federal law.

Under both federal regulations and state law, a CDL holder can be disqualified from driving a commercial motor vehicle for a specific minimum period for any of several illegal acts. With respect to your question, the law requires a CDL holder to be disqualified from driving a commercial vehicle for a minimum of 60 days if convicted of two “serious traffic violations” and 120 days if convicted of three such violations. These must have occurred while operating a commercial motor vehicle and must arise from separate incidents that occur within a three-year period (CGS 14-44k).

A serious traffic violation includes convictions for (1) driving 15 mph or more above a posted speed limit (whether the charge is made under 14-218a or 14-219); (2) reckless driving (CGS 14-222--which includes driving at more than 85 mph); (3) following another vehicle too closely or “tailgating” (CGS 14-240); (4) tailgating with intent to harass or intimidate the driver of the preceding vehicle (CGS 14-240a); and (5) several laws governing proper passing and use of the highway (including improper use of the restricted left-hand lane by a vehicle with a commercial registration, passing on the right except when authorized by law, and passing in a no passing zone).

Any conviction that arises in connection with an accident related to the operation of a commercial motor vehicle and which resulted in someone's death is also considered a serious traffic violation (CGS 14-1(71)).

The law also requires a CDL holder to (1) notify his employer within 30 days of a conviction for a violation of any traffic control law of Connecticut, any other state, or any Canadian province, except for a parking violation; (2) notify the DMV commissioner of a conviction for violating any such traffic control law in another state or Canada; and (3) notify his employer of any suspension, revocation, or cancellation of his operating privileges anywhere in the United States or Canada, any disqualification from driving a commercial motor vehicle, or any “out-of-service” order issued to him not later than the end of the business day following the day the driver received his notice. If a CDL holder fails to comply with any these requirements, he commits an infraction for a first offense (amount due $60) and, for any subsequent offense can be fined up to $500 (CGS 14-44j).

An employer cannot knowingly permit or require a driver to drive a commercial motor vehicle during any period in which his license or operating privilege has been suspended by any state, during any period he has been disqualified from driving under state or federal law, or while he is subject to an out-of-service order. If an employer violates these requirements he is subject to the above penalties, but if the offense involved permitting or requiring a driver to drive while he is under an out-of-service order, the employer is also subject to a civil penalty of $2,500 to $10,000.

Finally, the law requires the DMV commissioner to notify the home state licensing authority of any nonresident CDL holder within 10 days of receiving a report of a conviction for any violation of state law committed in a commercial motor vehicle, except for parking violations (CGS 14-44l).

JF:ts