Road Law
Life sentence

By Jeff McConnell & James Mennella, Attorneys at law

It’s critical to know the difference between “major” violations and “serious” violations in that the penalties are much more severe. If you have your copy of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulation Pocketbook you can find this information in Table 1 of Section 383.51.

Here are some of our most recent questions and problems that fellow OOIDA members have dealt with in reference to driving while suspended or disqualified.

Member No. 1: I was recently at a scale house in Tennessee, and the officer said my license was suspended for a “driving under suspension” ticket in Virginia that I didn’t pay. I spent the day getting the Virginia ticket paid and my license reinstated. The officer also wrote me a ticket for driving on a suspended license.

I appeared in court and tried to explain to the judge what had occurred, but was eventually convicted of the violation. Shortly thereafter, I received a notice from my licensing state that my CDL was being disqualified for life.

Q. Can they do this and what can I do to get my CDL back?

A. Yes, under Section 383.51 if you are convicted of two driving while suspended/disqualified violations, your CDL is required to be disqualified for life.

At this stage of the game, the only viable option is to go back to one or both of the courts where you paid these violations and seek post-conviction relief. If the court will allow you to withdraw your guilty plea and reset the matter, there is a chance that the original violation can be amended to a non-disqualifying offense. The real battle then begins with the Department of Motor Vehicles to correct your driver abstract.

Member No. 2: I had several issues with my medical card in the past that resulted in revocations of my CDL privileges. I thought all of the issues had been resolved. But I received a ticket for driving while medically revoked the other day. I was in the process of trying to get reinstated but had to appear in court before I could get that accomplished. The prosecutor and judge would not agree to dismiss or amend the charge so I went ahead and paid the violation.

Q. This week I got pulled over again and was told that my license was suspended or revoked for a medical issue. What can I do?

A. Two things must be accomplished in order to prevent you from facing a lifetime disqualification of your CDL:

First, you need to find out from your Department of Motor Vehicles what the issue is with your medical status and why the medical revocations keep occurring. Once this is addressed and corrected, we can move to the court side of things.

You will need to plead “not guilty” and have the matter set for a pre-trial conference where you or your attorney can discuss the matter with the court. At all costs you need to have the violation amended or dismissed with proof of reinstatement or your state will have no option but to issue a disqualification. LL

Send any questions or comments regarding transportation law to: Jeff McConnell and James Mennella, Road Law, 3441 W. Memorial, Suite 4, Oklahoma City, OK 73134; call 405-242-2030, fax 888-588-8983, or email

This column is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the opinions of Land Line Magazine or its publisher. Please remember everyone's legal situation is different. Consult with an attorney for specific advice on your situation.