Limits on Commercial Drivers

If you have been in a serious accident involving a commercial driver, you need to know that there are laws out there specifically designed to protect you. Federal and state regulations place strict limits on commercial drivers, which can work in your favor in a Third Party negligence lawsuit.

Who is a Commercial Driver?

Before you can look at the limits to show that a driver’s negligence caused you accident, you need to know whether they count as a commercial driver. Michigan law requires many people who drive for a living to carry a Commercial Driver Licence (CDL). That includes anyone who drives:

  • Single vehicles weighing more than 26,000 pounds;
  • Semi trucks with a trailer weighing over 10,000 and with a combined weight of over 26,000.
  • Multi-passenger vehicles designed to transport 16 people or more (including the driver)
  • Vehicles transporting hazardous materials.

Drivers do not need a CDL to operate:

  • Military vehicles on active duty;
  • Police or fire emergency vehicles;
  • Farm equipment within 150 miles of the farm (this may require an F-endorsement); or
  • Motor homes; or
  • Private moving vans.

There is also a different certification called a chauffeur license that applies to taxi, limo, and other hired drivers of smaller vehicles, as well as school buses.

Time and Hour Limits

Anyone driving a commercial motor vehicle (CMV) is subject to limits set by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). That includes all CDL drivers, as well as anyone driving a passenger vehicle designed to hold at least 9 people (like a limousine). The limits include:

  • 10 or 11 hour maximum consecutive hours a CMV driver can drive;
  • 14 or 15 hour driving time following time 8 or 10 hours off duty;
  • Mandatory rest breaks;
  • 60/70 hour work weeks;
  • 8 hours consecutive sleep periods (sometimes divided into two periods for passenger vehicles).

Drivers are required to maintain time logs indicating when they drive and when they take breaks. In a Third Party lawsuit, these logs can be used to show that the driver was over their mandatory limits and negligently operating the commercial motor vehicle.

DUI Regulations

The FMCSA also sets federal limits on alcohol and drugs for commercial drivers. Truck drivers and other CDL holders can have no more than a 0.04 blood-alcohol content. This is half the limit for non-commercial drivers in Michigan. Even then, a CDL holder cannot drive within 4 hours of using alcohol of any kind.

Commercial drivers are also subject to random drug and alcohol testing, and testing after an accident. This can include screenings for marijuana, cocaine, amphetamines, opiates, and PCP. If you have been injured by a commercial driver, your truck accident attorneys can subpoena these tests to show if the driver was intoxicated or under the influence of drugs when he or she hit you.

Christensen Law attorneys are experienced in using CDL limits to prove negligence. After a serious truck accident, they can help you get the compensation you need for your medical expenses and non-economic damages. Don’t wait. Contact Christensen Law today for a free consultation.


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