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Does Having No CDL Make A Commercial Driver Liable In A Crash?


In order to drive a commercial vehicle, a person must have a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL). However, it is more common than one might imagine for commercial motor vehicle (CMV) drivers to be on Florida roads without one. If you are ever involved in a Florida accident with a CMV, and the driver has no CDL, it does not make them immediately liable for your injuries as it might in other states, but it can play a role in holding a negligent driver accountable.

Potential Suspensions & Criminal Penalties

The requirements to obtain a CDL in Florida are fairly stringent, testing everything from knowledge of vehicle maintenance and rules of the road, to vision and other potential medical issues, to one’s background. If one seeks to obtain an endorsement to transport hazardous materials or drive specific vehicles, further evaluation is necessary. State Departments of Transportation generally understand the potential danger of unqualified people operating vehicles that have such high potential for injury or death.

Because of the higher stakes, penalties for operating a CMV without a license are generally more serious than standard moving violations or other infractions for passenger vehicles. It is important to keep in mind that having the wrong type of CDL will be treated as if one has none at all – the proper certifications are just as important as having the license in the first place. While most CDL-related offenses are misdemeanors, they are still treated as “serious offenses” and almost always result in suspensions of one’s license.

Florida Has Exceptions

In general, actions like driving without a CDL, or driving on a revoked CDL, are taken quite seriously. However, Florida (and some other states) have exceptions written into the law, where having a CDL is not required, despite people being permitted to drive vehicles that are just as large, and have just as much potential to harm. The workers who do not have to have a CDL in order to operate a large vehicle are:

  • Drivers of “authorized emergency vehicles;”
  • Military servicemembers driving vehicles for military purposes;
  • Farmers transporting “agricultural products” or farm supplies to or from their farm (within 150 miles);
  • Covered farm vehicles;
  • Recreational vehicles such as RVs; and
  • Transit system vehicles being moved to different places on the transit system’s property.

In addition, just because one has a CDL does not mean they are free and clear to drive a commercial vehicle – if they have been convicted of certain criminal offenses, such as driving while intoxicated or vehicular manslaughter, Florida law bars them from driving a commercial vehicle during the period of their disqualification.

Contact A Tampa Commercial Motor Vehicle Accident Attorney

Being involved in an accident with a commercial motor vehicle can lead to injuries that can completely change a person’s life. If you have been in this kind of accident, and you suspect that the CMV driver lacked a license, know that it can be a persuasive piece of evidence that can go toward establishing liability. Call a Tampa CMV accident attorney from the Rinaldo Law Group today for a free consultation.



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