I defend enough traffic tickets for Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) holders that this question comes up too often: What counts as a Serious Traffic Violation for commercial drivers in Illinois? First, a little bit of background.
Why are serious moving violations so dangerous for Illinois commercial drivers?
If you rack up two serious moving violations in any 36-month period, your license will be suspended for a minimum of two months. See 625 ILCS 5/6-514(e). You cannot take the risk having even one serious moving violation on your record because if another one happens, you will lose your ability to work for a long period of time.
Illinois has adopted the FMCSA regulations for serious traffic violations. There are 8 of them.
Section 6-500 of the Illinois Vehicle Code defines some examples of serious traffic violations:
Serious Traffic Violation. “Serious traffic violation” means:
(A) a conviction when operating a commercial motor vehicle, or when operating a non-CMV while holding a CDL, of:
(i) a violation relating to excessive speeding, involving a single speeding charge of 15 miles per hour or more above the legal speed limit; or
(ii) a violation relating to reckless driving; or
(iii) a violation of any State law or local ordinance relating to motor vehicle traffic control (other than parking violations) arising in connection with a fatal traffic accident; or
(iv) a violation of Section 6-501, relating to having multiple driver’s licenses; or
(v) a violation of paragraph (a) of Section 6-507, relating to the requirement to have a valid CDL; or
(vi) a violation relating to improper or erratic traffic lane changes; or
(vii) a violation relating to following another vehicle too closely; or
(viii) a violation relating to texting while driving; or
(ix) a violation relating to the use of a hand-held mobile telephone while driving; or
(B) any other similar violation of a law or local ordinance of any state relating to motor vehicle traffic control, other than a parking violation, which the Secretary of State determines by administrative rule to be serious.
So, we have eight basic serious traffic violations in Illinois:
- Speeding 15 m.p.h. or more
- Reckless driving
- Any traffic ticket (e.g. a busted headlight) arising in connection with a fatal accident
- Multiple driver’s licenses
- Not having a CDL
- Lane usage or lane change tickets
- Following too closely
- Using a cellphone to talk without a headset or to text.
Note well that while the statue says there has to be a “conviction” of these offenses for them to count as a serious traffic violation, a disposition of supervision on the charge counts as a conviction for your CDL. See 625 ILCS 5/6-500(8) (“‘Conviction’ means . . . the payment of a fine or court cost regardless of whether the imposition of sentence is deferred and ultimately a judgment dismissing the underlying charge is entered.”).
Also note well that a serious traffic violation can be “any other similar violation of a law or local ordinance of any state relating to motor vehicle traffic control, other than a parking violation, which the Secretary of State determines by administrative rule to be serious.” How many separate offense could that be?
The Illinois Secretary of State has designated 44 additional offenses as serious traffic violations:
92 Ill. Admin. Code 1040.20 contains a list of all of the serious moving violations deemed to be serious by the Illinois Secretary of State:
- 625 ILCS 5/6-501 Violation of More Than One Driver’s License
- 625 ILCS 5/6-507(a)(1) Driving Without a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) in Possession
- 625 ILCS 5/6-507 (b) Unlawful Operation of CMV
- 625 ILCS 5/11-308 Disregarding Lane Control Signal
- 625 ILCS 5/11-503 Reckless Driving
- 625 ILCS 5/11-601(a) Speeding Too Fast for Conditions or Failure to Reduce Speed to Avoid an Accident
- 625 ILCS 5/11-601(b)(5) 15-25 MPH Above Posted Speed Limit
- 625 ILCS 5/11-601(b)(7) Over 25 MPH Above Posted Speed Limit
- 625 ILCS 5/11-601(b) Over 29 MPH Above Posted Speed Limit
- 625 ILCS 5/11-601.5 Driving 40 MPH or More in Excess of the Applicable Speed Limit. Class “A” Misdemeanor
- 625 ILCS 5/11-605 Exceeding the Maximum Speed Limit in a School Zone
- 625 ILCS 5/11-605(a) Exceeding the Maximum Speed Limit in a School Zone
- 625 ILCS 5/11-605(b) Exceeding the Maximum Speed Limit Through a Highway Construction or Maintenance Zone
- 625 ILCS 5/11-701 Failure to Drive on Right Side of Roadway
- 625 ILCS 5/11-702 Improper Passing Upon Meeting an Approaching Vehicle
- 625 ILCS 5/11-703(a) Improper Passing on Left
- 625 ILCS 5/11-703(b) Failure to Yield Right-of-Way to Vehicle Passing on the Left
- 625 ILCS 5/11-704 Improper Passing on the Right
- 625 ILCS 5/11-705 Improper Passing on the Left with Insufficient Visibility or Within 200 Feet of an Intersection
- 625 ILCS 5/11-706 Driving on Left Side of Roadway Where Prohibited
- 625 ILCS 5/11-707(b) Driving on Left Side of Roadway in a No-Passing Zone
- 625 ILCS 5/11-707(d) Passing in Unincorporated Area Where There Exists a School Speed Zone as Defined in Section 11-605
- 625 ILCS 5/11-708 Driving Wrong Way on One-Way Street or Highway or Around Traffic Island
- 625 ILCS 5/11-709(a) Improper Traffic Lane Usage
- 625 ILCS 5/11-709(b) Improper Center Lane Usage
- 625 ILCS 5/11-709(c) Improper Traffic Lane Usage
- 625 ILCS 5/11-709(d) Improper Traffic Lane Usage
- 625 ILCS 5/11-709.1 Passing on Shoulder While Merging into Traffic
- 625 ILCS 5/11-710 Following Too Closely
- 625 ILCS 5/6-101 Operating a Motor Vehicle Without a Valid License or Permit
- 625 ILCS 5/6-104(a) Violation of License Classification for First and Second Division Vehicles
- 625 ILCS 5/6-104(b) Violation of Classification for Transporting Persons for Hire
- 625 ILCS 5/6-104(c) Violation of Classification for Transporting Property for Hire
- 625 ILCS 5/6-104(d) Violation of School Bus Permits
- 625 ILCS 5/6-104(e) Violation of Religious Bus Driver Permits
- 625 ILCS 5/6-104(f) Violation of Classification for Transportation of the Elderly
- 625 ILCS 5/6-105 Violation of Instruction Permit
- 625 ILCS 5/11-1002(d) Passing Vehicle Stopped for Pedestrian
- 625 ILCS 5/11-1201(a) For drivers who are not always required to stop, failing to stop before reaching the railroad crossing, if tracks are not clear
- 625 ILCS 5/11-1201(a-5) For drivers who are not always required to stop, failing to slow down and check that the tracks are clear of approaching train
- 625 ILCS 5/11-1201(d-1) Failing to negotiate a railroad-highway grade crossing because of insufficient undercarriage clearance
- 625 ILCS 5/11-1412.1 Driving Upon Sidewalk
- 625 ILCS 5/11-1414(a) Passing School Bus Receiving or Discharging Children
- 625 ILCS 5/11-1425(b) Failing to have sufficient space to drive completely through the railroad crossing without stopping
Pleading guilty to a serious traffic violation is irresponsible for CDL drivers in Illinois.
Don’t risk your license and your livelihood. Our attorneys have experience negotiating down serious traffic violations to non-serious traffic violations (and occasionally non-moving violations). And when the prosecutors refuse to negotiate, we aggressively defend trials.