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Protest a Commercial Vehicle Citation

If you received a Commercial Motor Vehicle Citation / Permit issued by an officer with the Florida Highway Patrol or another local law enforcement officer, then contact an experienced traffic ticket attorney in Tampa, FL, to discuss the case. Instead of merely paying the citation and admitting guilt, you should retain an experienced attorney to help you protest the citation.

Under Section 316.3025(8), if you were issued the CMV citation and assessed a civil penalty then you can hire an attorney to apply to the Commercial Motor Vehicle Review Board for a modification, cancellation, or revocation of the penalty (sometimes called a "letter or protest" or "appeal"). During the protest or appeal process, the Commercial Motor Vehicle Review Board may modify, cancel, revoke, or sustain such penalty. Many of these CMV citations are issued during a traffic stop conducted pursuant to Florida Statute Section 20.24 and Section 316.640 for a variety of offenses such as failing to stop at a railroad crossing when required by 392.10.

In Fiscal Year 2013/2014, the Review Board heard 1,172 cases that represented a total of $1,373,088.45 in fines. Out of these 1,172 cases, relief was granted on 454 of the cases, or 38.74% of the cases, for a total refunded amount of $552,332.94, or 40.23%.

The attorneys at the Sammis Law Firm can help you protest, contest, or appeal a Commercial Vehicle Citation to the Commercial Motor Vehicle Review Board (hereinafter Review Board). The Review Board for Commercial Motor Vehicle citations can review any penalty imposed upon any vehicle or person relating to weights imposed on the highways by the axles and wheels of motor vehicles, special fuel and motor fuel tax compliance, commercial motor vehicle registration, or violation of safety regulations.

Call the traffic ticket attorneys for drivers of commercial vehicles or CDL holders in Tampa, FL, at the Sammis Law Firm. Our offices are located in downtown Tampa in Hillsborough County. We represent CDL holders on commercial motor vehicle enforcement actions, permits, and citations in the greater Tampa Bay area.

Let us put our experience to work for you. Call 813-250-0500 today. 


Civil Penalties for a Commercial Motor Vehicle Citation

Florida Statute 316.3025(3) explains the civil penalties for violations including:

(a) A civil penalty of $50 may be assessed for a violation of the identification requirements of 49 C.F.R. s. 390.21 or s. 316.302(2)(e).

(b) A civil penalty of $100 may be assessed for:

1. Each violation of the North American Uniform Driver Out-of-Service Criteria;
2. A violation of s. 316.302(2)(b) or (c);
3. A violation of 49 C.F.R. s. 392.60;
4. A violation of the North American Standard Vehicle Out-of-Service Criteria resulting from an inspection of a commercial motor vehicle involved in a crash; or
5. A violation of 49 C.F.R. s. 391.41.

(c) A civil penalty of $250 may be assessed for:

1. A violation of the placarding requirements of 49 C.F.R. parts 171-179;
2. A violation of the shipping paper requirements of 49 C.F.R. parts 171-179;
3. A violation of 49 C.F.R. s. 392.10;
4. A violation of 49 C.F.R. s. 397.5;
5. A violation of 49 C.F.R. s. 397.7;
6. A violation of 49 C.F.R. s. 397.13; or
7. A violation of 49 C.F.R. s. 397.15.

(d) A civil penalty of $500 may be assessed for:

1. Each violation of the North American Standard Hazardous Materials Out-of-Service Criteria;
2. Each violation of 49 C.F.R. s. 390.19, for failure of an interstate or intrastate motor carrier to register;
3. Each violation of 49 C.F.R. s. 392.9a, for failure of an interstate motor carrier to obtain operating authority; or
4. Each violation of 49 C.F.R. s. 392.9a, for operating beyond the scope of an interstate motor carrier’s operating authority.

(e) A civil penalty not to exceed:

    • $5,000 in the aggregate may be assessed for violations found in the conduct of compliance reviews pursuant to s. 316.302(6).
    • $25,000 in the aggregate may be assessed for violations found in a follow-up compliance review conducted within a 24-month period.
    • $25,000 in the aggregate may be assessed and the motor carrier may be enjoined pursuant to s. 316.3026 if violations are found after a second follow-up compliance review within 12 months after the first follow-up compliance review. Motor carriers found to be operating without insurance required by s. 627.7415 may be enjoined as provided in s. 316.3026.

Under 316.3025(4), a vehicle operated by an interstate motor carrier found to be in violation of 49 C.F.R. s. 392.9a may be placed out of service for the carrier’s failure to obtain operating authority or operating beyond the scope of its operating authority.

Under 316.3025(5), whenever any person or motor carrier as defined in chapter 320 violates the provisions of this section and becomes indebted to the state because of such violation and refuses to pay the appropriate penalty, in addition to the provisions of s. 316.3026, such penalty becomes a lien upon the property including the motor vehicles of such person or motor carrier and such property may be seized and foreclosed by the state in a civil action in any court of this state. It shall be presumed that the owner of the motor vehicle is lible for the sum, and the vehicle may be detained or impounded until the penalty is paid.


Texting While Driving a Commercial Motor Vehicle

Under 316.3025(6)(a), a driver who violates 49 C.F.R. s. 392.80, which prohibits texting while operating a commercial motor vehicle, or 49 C.F.R. s. 392.82, which prohibits using a handheld mobile telephone while operating a commercial motor vehicle, may be assessed a civil penalty and commercial driver license disqualification as follows:

  • First violation: $500.
  • Second violation: $1,000 and a 60-day commercial driver license disqualification pursuant to 49 C.F.R. part 383.
  • Third and subsequent violations: $2,750 and a 120-day commercial driver license disqualification pursuant to 49 C.F.R. part 383.

Section 316.3025(6)(b) A company requiring or allowing a driver to violate 49 C.F.R. s. 392.80, which prohibits texting while operating a commercial motor vehicle, or 49 C.F.R. s. 392.82, which prohibits using a handheld mobile telephone while operating a commercial motor vehicle, may, in addition to any other penalty assessed, be assessed the following civil penalty. The driver shall not be charged with an offense for the first violation under this paragraph by the company.

  • First violation: $2,750.
  • Second violation: $5,000.
  • Third and subsequent violations: $11,000.

Defenses for Failing to Stop at a RR Crossing

One common reason for a citation related to commercial vehicle enforcement is a violation of 316.302(1) which provides that all drivers of commercial motor vehicles engaged in intrastate commerce are subject to rules and regulations contained in 49 C.F.R. parts 382, 383, 385 and 309 - 390.5 as it relates to the definition of a bus.

Under 49 C.F.R. section 392.10(a)(4), every cargo tank motor vehicle, whether loaded or employ, used for the transportation of any hazardous material is required to stop within 50 feet and not closer than 15 feet of railroad tracks or crossing. A violation can result in being assessed a civil penalty of $250 for a violation of 49 C.F.R. section 392(10)(a)(4). The officer that issues the commercial motor vehicle citation or permit is trained to tell the driver that the civil penalty must be paid within 20 days and about the protest procedures.

The Guidance from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) for § 392.10: Railroad grade crossings statute provides that §392.10(a)(4) is NOT applicable to drivers operating cargo tank vehicles that were used to transport hazardous materials for which placarding or marking was required, but are no longer required because the cargo tank has been emptied, or the quantity of the material has been reduced, or the temperature or characteristics of the material have changed

If the cargo tank vehicle no longer displays placards or markings indicating that the vehicle is transporting hazardous materials for which placarding or marking is required, and either:

  1. the vehicle has been sufficiently cleaned of residue and purged of vapors; or
  2. the vehicle is refilled with a material which is not a hazardous material; or
  3. the original material no longer is an elevated temperature material or otherwise is no longer considered hazardous according to the regulations.

Although §392.10(a)(4) does not distinguish between loaded and empty cargo tank vehicles, or cargo tank vehicles transporting materials or substances that are not, at the time the vehicle is being driven across the railroad grade crossing, required to be placarded or marked, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration intends that the scope of the regulation be limited to those cases in which the vehicle is placarded or marked.

The officer can also conduct a North American Standard (NAS) Level I Inspection pursuant to 316.302(9) which provides:

For the purpose of enforcing this section, any law enforcement officer of the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles or duly appointed agent who holds a current safety inspector certification from the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance may require the driver of any commercial vehicle operated on the highways of this state to stop and submit to an inspection of the vehicle or the driver’s records. If the vehicle or driver is found to be operating in an unsafe condition, or if any required part or equipment is not present or is not in proper repair or adjustment, and the continued operation would present an unduly hazardous operating condition, the officer may require the vehicle or the driver to be removed from service pursuant to the North American Standard Out-of-Service Criteria, until corrected. However, if continuous operation would not present an unduly hazardous operating condition, the officer may give written notice requiring correction of the condition within 14 days.

(a) Any member of the Florida Highway Patrol or any law enforcement officer employed by a sheriff’s office or municipal police department authorized to enforce the traffic laws of this state pursuant to s. 316.640 who has reason to believe that a vehicle or driver is operating in an unsafe condition may, as provided in subsection (11), enforce the provisions of this section.

(b) Any person who fails to comply with an officer’s request to submit to an inspection under this subsection commits a violation of s. 843.02 if the person resists the officer without violence or a violation of s. 843.01 if the person resists the officer with violence.


Disqualifications from Operating a Commercial Motor Vehicle under Section 322.61

Florida Statute Section 322.61(9) provides that a driver who is convicted of or otherwise found to have committed an offense of operating a commercial motor vehicle in violation of federal, state, or local law or regulation pertaining to one of the following six offenses at a railroad-highway grade crossing must be disqualified for the period of time specified in subsection (10) (which is a at least a 60 day disqualification period):

(a) For drivers who are not always required to stop, failing to slow down and check that the tracks are clear of approaching trains.

(b) For drivers who are not always required to stop, failing to stop before reaching the crossing if the tracks are not clear.

(c) For drivers who are always required to stop, failing to stop before driving onto the crossing.

(d) For all drivers, failing to have sufficient space to drive completely through the crossing without stopping.

(e) For all drivers, failing to obey a traffic control device or all directions of an enforcement official at the crossing.

(f) For all drivers, failing to negotiate a crossing because of insufficient undercarriage clearance.

Under Florida Statute Section 322.61(9(10), a driver must be disqualified for:

  • at least 60 days if the driver is convicted of or otherwise found to have committed a first violation of a railroad-highway grade crossing violation;
  • at least 120 days if, for offenses occurring during any 3-year period, the driver is convicted of or otherwise found to have committed a second railroad-highway grade crossing violation in separate incidents
  • at least 1 year if, for offenses occurring during any 3-year period, the driver is convicted of or otherwise found to have committed a third or subsequent railroad-highway grade crossing violation in separate incidents.

Commercial Motor Vehicle Review Board

The CMV Review Board is part of the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT), and has three permanent members who are the Secretary of the Department of Transportation, the Executive Director of the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (DHSMV), and the Commissioner of Agriculture, or their authorized representatives.

The Commercial Motor Vehicle Review Board is an entity created by statute in Florida that considers protested commercial vehicle citations. The CMV Review Board may review, sustain, modify, cancel, or revoke any penalty imposed on any vehicle or person under the provisions of chapter 316, F.S., relating to:

  • to violations of safety regulations;
  • to special fuel and motor fuel tax compliance;  or
  • weights imposed on the highways by the axles and wheels of motor vehicles.

Any person may, upon payment of his or her penalty, apply to the Review Board for a modification, cancellation, or revocation of a penalty for violations of certain commercial vehicle regulations. Most of the cases are resolved with a board member makes a "motion for no relief." If another member seconds the motion, then no relief from the citation will be granted.

Florida law gives the CMVRB the duty to consider testimony or other evidence which supports modification, cancellation, or revocation of penalties imposed pursuant to Section 316.516, 316.545, 316.550 or 316.3025, Florida Statutes. The CMVRB has broad statutory authority to grant or deny relief. The Review Board does not, however, sit as an adjudicatory body. Therefore a petitioner's assertions of fact may be considered by the Review Board, but the Board will not decide contested facts.
 
You can request that the officer that issued the citation attend the hearing. Although the board does not consider contested facts, in some cases the officer that issued the citation will admit making a mistake or agree with additional evidence brought by the driver.

Pursuant to Florida Statute 316.545(7), the Review Board is composed of the following member:

  • three (3) permanent members who are the Secretary of Transportation;
  • the Executive Director of the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles: and
  • the Commissioner of Agriculture or their representatives; and
  • four (4) additional members.

The Governor for the State of Florida appoints one member from the road construction industry, one member from the trucking industry, and one member with a general business or legal background. The Commissioner of Agriculture shall appoint one member from the agriculture industry. The Chairman of the Board is the Secretary of Transportation or his designee.


How to Protest a Citation for a CMV Violation

To protect a citation you must pay the total amount of the citation. You or your attorney must then provide a provide a written explanation of the grounds for your protest within sixty (60) days of the receipt of the citation (often called the "letter of protest"). The letter of protest must contain sufficient information to enable the CMVRB to give adequate consideration to your case. In addition to a letter of protest, you must provide a copy of the citation being protested as well as any additional pertinent documentation/evidence that will help prove your case.

The letter of protest must contain sufficient information to enable the CMVRB to give adequate consideration to your case. In addition to a letter of protest, you must provide a copy of the citation being protested, as well as any additional pertinent documentation/evidence that will help prove your case. After the letter of protest is received by the CMVBR, the protest will be placed on the agenda of the CMVRB.

You must pay the citation fine or civil penalty to:

Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles
Penalty Collection Unit
2900 Apalachee Parkway
Tallahassee, FL 32399-0500
1-800-688-5479
850-617-3206
www.fhpcvepayments.com

When you visit the Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicle's Online Citation Payment Center you must enter the USDOT number or citation number to begin the online payment process. You can pay with a major credit card or the bank routing number of your checking or savings account.

The Commercial Motor Vehicle Review Board will not hear a protest unless the penalty is timely paid or a good and sufficient bond is posted. To be considered timely, a citation must be paid and a request for hearing must be filed within sixty (60) days of receipt of the penalty.

Surety bond Instructions – 1994-09-01 (pdf file size 21KB)
Surety bond form – 1994-09-01 (pdf file size 9KB)

You or your attorney must file the letter of protest with the:

Florida Department of Transportation
Commercial Motor Vehicle Review Board
605 Suwannee Street, MS 90
Tallahassee, FL 32399
850-410-5619
Fax: 850-412-8029
Email: CMVRB@dot.state.fl.us

The failure to remit payment by the duty date may result in the carrier vehicle being impounded, the carrier and all trucks being prohibited from operating in Florida, vehicle registrations and IRP / Fuel Tax credentials being revoked or suspended, oversized / overweight permits being cancelled, credit bureau / collection complains being filed and other civil remedies under federal law and the laws of the State of Florida.


Attending the Protest Hearing with the CMVRB

Although it is not necessary for you or your attorney to be present at the CMVRB hearing, you have the right to attend and provide testimony that supplements your written explanation provided within the letter of protest and additional documentation. The CMVRB meetings are held once a month at a location determined by the Board. The Review Board will physically meet at the Florida Department of Transportation, 605 Suwannee Street, Burns Building Auditorium, Tallahassee, Florida 32301.

If you or your attorney attend, you will be provided the opportunity to respond to Review Board inquiries. You can appear via video conference from any of the seven (7) Florida Department of Transportation District offices which are located in Tampa, Bartow, Lake City, Chipley, Ft. Lauderdale, DeLand, Miami). If you wish to appear via video conference, you must notify the Review Board no later than fourteen (14) calendar days prior to the hearing date.

After you or your attorney files the letter of protest the Review Board will provide notice of the hearing date and location approximately one (1) month prior to the hearing date in a letter sent via U.S. Mail. All requests for a protest withdrawal, continuance or additional supporting documents must be mailed to the protest address (see above), faxed to 850-412-8029 or emailed to CMVRB@dot.state.fl.us no later than fourteen (14) calendar days prior to hearing date.

The Review Board renders its decision within 30 days after the meeting at which the protest was heard and notifies the person of its decision in writing via a disposition letter. The disposition letter is delivered by U.S. Mail. Pursuant to Rule 14A-1.004(7), Florida Administrative Code, the Review Board's decision is final (although it can be appealled to the district court of appeals).

A rehearing may be requested only if additional evidence is presented. You may request a rehearing by filing such a request within fourteen (14) days of the date of the disposition letter. If the Review Board votes to give a partial or full refund of your citation fine, a refund will be issued by check in a timely manner. Checks are issued by the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (DHSMV). For any questions regarding a refund, please contact DHSMV- Penalty Collections Unit at 850-617-3206.


2017 Schedule of CMVRB Protest Hearings

January 12, 2017
February 9, 2017
March 9, 2017
April 13, 2017
May 11, 2017
June 8, 2017
July 13, 2017
August 10, 2017
September 14, 2017
October 12, 2017
November 9, 2017
December 14, 2017


Additional Resources

Protesting a Commercial Vehicle Citation - Visit the website of the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles to learn more about how to protest, contest, or appeal a commercial motor vehicle citation. The Commercial Motor Vehicle Review Board can review any penalty imposed upon any vehicle or person relating to weights imposed on the highways by the axles and wheels of motor vehicles, special fuel and motor fuel tax compliance, commercial motor vehicle registration, or violation of safety regulations.


Attorneys for Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Citations

If you were issued a commercial vehicle citation in the Tampa Bay area, the contact an experienced traffic ticket attorney at the Sammis Law Firm to discuss your case. Don't just pay the citation and admit guilt, instead act quickly to post a surety bond and protect the citation so that it is removed from the record and the money you post for the bond can be refunded.

Let our attorneys put our experience to work for you. Call 813-250-0500.


This article was last updated on Friday, May 19, 2017.

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