Should you hire a qualified CDL lawyer?
For more than 20 years in South Texas, Phillip W. Goff has helped thousands of American, Mexican, and Canadian truckers protect their Commercial Driver Licenses from all sorts of traffic tickets.
South Texas is a vibrant place for truckers. Corpus Christi has the 5th largest port for tonnage in the United States. Laredo is the largest inland port in the United States. With such commerce comes a massive volume of goods. Naturally, a huge percentage of that travels by truck, and truckers come from everywhere.
Truck drivers are frequently and unfairly blamed for causing accidents, damaging roads, and violating thousands of regulations. Local governments, meanwhile, target commercial drivers to supplement their budgets. Quotas are illegal but officials set them, even while routinely denying it.
Truck drivers need legal help on a more regular basis than virtually any other occupation. A ticket may lead to a fine, suspension, or CSA points, unless the driver retains an experienced Texas CDL lawyer who has extensive experience defending truckers. Simply paying the fine won’t make the matter go away and may ruin a driver’s career.
How CDL violations may ruin a commercial driver’s career
Suppose you are a commercial driver and you have just received a moving violation in Texas. Whether you work for an employer or yourself, your commercial driver license certifies that you meet the requirements to drive a truck for a living. Your driving record is your resume. Your CSA score is your reference. Moving violations blacken and tarnish them all.
Laws against professional drivers are ludicrously harsh and unreasonable. Even paying court costs on a dismissal qualifies as a conviction. The Texas Transportation Code Section 522.003 defines a conviction with a very low threshold of guilt:
- An adjudication of guilt, an unvacated forfeiture of bail or collateral deposited to secure the person’s appearance in court, a plea of guilty or nolo contendere accepted by the court, the payment of a fine or court costs, or the violation of a condition of release without bail, in a court, regardless of whether the penalty is suspended, probated, or rebated; or
- A determination by a court, an authorized administrative tribunal or officer, or the department as authorized by this chapter that:
- the person has refused to give a specimen to determine the person’s alcohol concentration or the presence in the person’s body of a controlled substance or drug while driving a commercial motor vehicle; or
- the person has driven a commercial motor vehicle while the person’s alcohol concentration was 0.04 or more.
The Legislature has written the law to work overwhelmingly against commercial drivers. In simple terms, a conviction may ruin your career or your driving business, so it is critical to avoid convictions from appearing on your record.
Often, a commercial moving violation leads to automatic termination of employment. Many employers fire drivers after one conviction, or even merely that the ticket was issued, before the case has been considered by anyone other than the cop who issued the ticket. A conviction may preclude future employment. If you can get a job, that same conviction may force you to take an inferior, lower-paying, undesirable job. If you are an owner-operator, you’ll have to deal with increased premiums for years. Switching insurance providers won’t help.
Do I need to hire an attorney, or can I defend myself?
After reading the above information, you may still ask yourself whether defending yourself in court is an option. You should first ask yourself the following:
- Do you know the rules of evidence?
- Do you know the rules of criminal procedure?
- Do you know substantive criminal law?
- Do you know Texas statutes?
- Do you know federal regulations?
- Do you know burdens of proof?
- Do you know how to gather information for court?
- Do you know how to object to improper happenings in court?
- Do you know how to cross-examine witnesses?
- Do you know how to address a jury?
- Do you know what recourse you have if you lose?
- Do you know legal deadlines?
Unless you can answer yes to all the above questions, you will almost certainly lose and face the dire consequences.
Hire a lawyer who knows the road you travel. Choose carefully. Your livelihood depends upon it.
How do I find a qualified CDL attorney in Corpus Christi?
To find a qualified CDL attorney, you need to do a little homework. Not all attorneys are right for your situation because they may not be equipped to defend a CDL violation. A qualified CDL lawyer must answer yes to all the questions posed above. But there are some other important considerations.
The attorney you need for your case must be able to demonstrate familiarity with the legal consequences of a moving violation for a commercial trucker. A qualified lawyer should know about the Code of Federal Regulations and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, as well as how they interact.
Your lawyer should associate with fellow professionals whose practices feature significant CDL defense, like Traffic Lawyers of Texas .
Non-moving violations can also damage your prospects with employers, prospective employers, and insurance carriers. You should consider finding an attorney to defend you against:
- Regulatory DOT violations
- Weigh station tickets
Will hiring a CDL attorney cost a lot of money?
“If you think it’s expensive to hire a professional to do the job, wait until you hire an amateur.”– Red Adair
If a lawyer has special knowledge, experience, and skill, you’re getting more value than what an inexperienced lawyer can provide.
Some lawyers may charge a few hundred dollars, some a few thousand. The lawyer charging you the lowest price may conceal a desperation for clients, a bad reputation, or a lack of experience. The lawyer charging you the highest price might be trying to take advantage of you.
Your situation, including the place you received your ticket, the court where it was filed, the prosecution’s attitude, and whether you want a contested trial are factors that can affect how much you must pay. A good lawyer should understand effective legal strategy, comprehend your predicament in legal terms, and defend your interests for the long term.
Attorney Phillip W. Goff understands your predicament, the law, the court procedures, and charges a reasonable fee: and above all, he strives to be a consummate professional.
I’m from a different county but I got my ticket in Corpus Christi
The Law Office of Phillip Goff has extensive experience in many Texas counties, particularly in the southern half of Texas.
I’m an out of state driver but I got my ticket in Corpus Christi
Regrettably, many jurisdictions take advantage of the bind professional truck drivers are in when they receive citations because traveling across the country to attend court may be impossible. Texas law does not grant exceptions for out-of-state commercial drivers. Texas often does allow lawyers, however, to appear in court on your behalf, perhaps eliminating the need to travel to court.
“Super” Overweight Tickets
Texas experienced an oil boom not long ago felt around the world, due to the oilfield practice of “fracking”. In 2013, the Texas Legislature was hounded by many local governments whose roads were being pulverized by commercial trucks transporting extraordinary weights, due to the oilfield traffic. Predictably, laws were passed to accuse drivers who were doing nothing more than what their jobs required them to do, rather than go after the companies requiring the drivers to drive the trucks. The result: drivers faced massive fines for pulling overweight loads while the companies were spared.
Gross Weight Fines
|1-2,500 pounds overweight||$100-$500|
|2,501-5,000 pounds overweight||$500-$1,000|
|5,001-10,000 pounds overweight||$1,000-$2,500|
|10,001-20,000 pounds overweight||$2,500-$5,000|
|20,001-40,000 pounds overweight||$5,000-$7,000|
|Over 40,000 pounds overweight||$7,000-$10,000|
Axle Weight Fines
|Up to 2,500 pounds over||$100-$500|
|2,501-5,000 pounds over||$500-$1,000|
|5,001 pounds over and more||$1,000-$2,500|
These amounts double on the third and subsequent convictions within one year of previous violations.
Fines like these are staggering. Fighting these kinds of cases requires a great deal of effort because the stakes are very high.
I’ve been charged with a DWI, and I have a CDL!
Few things are worse for a commercial driver than being arrested for drunk driving or Driving While Intoxicated (DWI). There are no easy answers, and you are in for the fight of your life.
A DWI (also called DUI in other states) has multiple consequences. Even if the criminal case turns out favorably, your license could take a huge hit.
Special laws address how commercial drivers are treated when being processed after a DWI arrest. Regulations specific to commercial drivers’ licenses apply, apart from suspensions. For example, you may be able to use your driver license to continue to drive your personal vehicle, but you may be disqualified from driving a commercial motor vehicle. You need to be represented by a lawyer familiar with DWI representation for both situations.
Disclaimer: No guarantees can be made as to the outcome of any case, no matter what the client pays. Phillip W. Goff is not certified by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization, nor does that entity have a specialization for this area of law.”