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Commercial Vehicles

It is important for prosecutors to develop a working knowledge of the commercial driver’s licensing laws. Although the terminology and regulations might be unfamiliar or even intimidating, understanding the basics about commercial motor vehicles and commercial drivers’ licenses is fundamental to effective investigation and prosecution of these cases. Given the size and power of commercial motor vehicles, knowledge of these laws will ensure their safe operation and save lives. Knowledge truly is power in the court room and a basic understanding of commercial vehicle regulations will provide the tools needed to successfully resolve both traffic and non-traffic related cases.


Commercial Drivers' License Monograph
This monograph serves as a basic primer for prosecutors and other traffic safety professionals who handle cases relating to commercial drivers’ licenses and commercial motor vehicles. It explains basic federal regulations and industry terminology. The monograph includes information about which offenses impact CDL status and the importance of pursuing convictions and accurate and prompt reporting. An excellent stand-alone desk reference, this monograph also works as a student manual for National Traffic Law Center’s newly developed CDL Basics Training Curriculum. For more information on the curriculum or the monograph, contact Tom Kimball at the National Traffic Law Center.

Download this monograph go to link


When is a Commercial Drivers License Required?
See this chart go to link

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) was established within the Department of Transportation on January 1, 2000, pursuant to the Motor Carrier Safety Improvement Act of 1999 (49 U.S.C. 113) with a mission of preventing commercial motor vehicle-related fatalities and injuries. This agency establishes standards for CDL licensing, studies ways to make commercial motor vehicle traffic safer and has the authority to enforce important safety and operational regulations on motor carriers. FMCSA works with Federal, State, and local enforcement agencies, the motor carrier industry, labor safety interest groups, and others on enforcement and safety programs. For information on federal regulations and commercial vehicle related research, see FMCSA’s website.

The Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA) is an international not-for-profit organization comprised of local, state, provincial, territorial and federal motor carrier safety officials and industry representatives from the United States, Canada, and Mexico. The organization works to promote commercial motor vehicle safety and security by providing leadership to enforcement, industry and policy makers. Operation Safe Driver (a program created by CVSA in partnership with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), state, provincial and local law enforcement and industry) is a campaign to combat the number of deaths in crashes involving large trucks and passenger vehicles. This campaign happens each year in October and holds activities across the United States, Canada and Mexico aimed at increasing commercial vehicle and non-commercial vehicle traffic enforcement; safety belt enforcement; driver roadside inspections; driver regulatory compliance; implementation of commercial driver educational and awareness programs to the motor carrier population; and, awareness to the motoring public about safe operations around commercial motor vehicles. To learn more about Operation Safe Driver, other CVSA programs, or general commercial vehicle information, visit CVSA’s website.

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