02 Nov Masking: What Does It Mean for Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) Holders?
While there are many classifications of driver’s licenses, they are primarily split into two general types: regular and commercial. A regular driver’s license allows you to operate personal vehicles such as cars, SUVs, small trucks, and vans. To obtain a regular driver’s license, it requires passing both a written and road test, and the minimum age requirement is generally between 16-18 years of age, varying by jurisdiction.
What is a CDL?
A commercial driver’s license (CDL), on the other hand, allows a driver to operate larger, commercial vehicles, such as buses, tow trucks, and freight carrier trucks. Obtaining a CDL requires more work than a regular driver’s license does. Written tests and skills tests are included, which test specific knowledge and skills related to the operation of commercial vehicles. Drivers typically must be at least 21 years old (some states allow those as young as 18 to obtain a CDL, but only for driving within one state). Additionally, CDL holders are often required to undergo higher amounts of health and safety checks to ensure they are fit to operate large, potentially dangerous vehicles. CDLs,unlike regular licenses, are primarily for professional use.
What is Masking?
Drivers who are CDL holders, though having a wider range of vehicles to drive, also have more rules and more severe penalties if they receive a traffic violation. Whereas regular driver’s license holders can take several routes after receiving a traffic ticket, people with CDLs have more limited options. One of these options is known as “masking.” Masking is the process of preventing a violation made by a CDL holder so it will not show up on their CDL record. Masking is prohibited by 49 C.F.R. § 384.226: “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.”
An Example of Masking
An example of masking would be if a CDL holder receives a traffic citation for speeding 1-10 mph over the posted limit. The driver pleads guilty to the charge, and the court defers entry of judgment for 60 days. During these 60 days, the driver must complete a traffic safety class. If completed successfully within that time frame, the charge will be dismissed. This is masking, but why?
By pleading guilty, the driver is admitting to the charge of speeding 1-10 mph over the posted limit. Thus, when the court allowed the charge to be dismissed following a driver safety class, the court “masked,” or hid the fact that the driver admitted to speeding.
Even though masking prohibition limits options for CDL holders, drivers are still allowed to negotiate with a prosecutor. For example, a driver with a CDL can agree to a lesser charge; a prosecutor could also dismiss the charge if the driver chooses to fight the ticket, rather than admit guilt. The anti-masking rule applies to all drivers with CDLs, even if they were driving a personal (non-commercial) vehicle.
Hiring an Attorney
CDL holders can face different and/or more severe consequences than people with regular driver’s licenses. When wanting to contest your CDL violation, it is important to hire an attorney who is able to handle your citation and receive a desirable outcome. For more information, and to receive a free consultation of your citation, simply upload your ticket through our website, or call us at (918) 947-9225.