Road law
WAC 308-100-130 ‘The Dragnet’

By Jeff McConnell and James Mennella, attorneys at law

We do talk about “serious” traffic violations a lot, but that’s because these violations are so important to you. While our main purpose is to alert you to the violations that are found in Title 49 CFR Section 383.51 and the requisite penalties associated with convictions of these violations, they are just the tip of the iceberg in those states that choose to be more restrictive than the feds.

The following case is an OOIDA member who happens to be dealing with the state of Washington on a disqualification of his CDL for two “serious” violation convictions within a three-year period.

I was involved in a single-vehicle accident in Oregon and rolled my tractor-trailer off the highway during a winter storm. The state police issued me a citation for “failure to drive in single lane.” The officer said it wasn’t a serious offense, saying it was similar to running a stop sign and would not be an issue for my CDL. So I paid it.

I recently received a notice from my licensing state of Washington, disqualifying my CDL for 60 days, due to two “serious” violation convictions. Can you help?

Yes, we can help you. The first thing to remember is that a citing officer doesn’t always know the unintended consequences of the citation being written and in most cases doesn’t know how your licensing state will treat the violation when a conviction is transmitted.

I reviewed my MVR, and I don’t see two serious violation convictions within the last three years to warrant this disqualification. The only two tickets listed on my MVR are the “Single Lane” from Oregon and an “Impeding Traffic” from California. What’s going on?

Many times violations are not coded properly at the DMV level, and there is always the possibility the disqualification is issued in error. The other possibility is that your licensing state is more restrictive than the feds, and they may have a longer list of violations they consider to be “serious.”

The 10 violations the feds consider “serious” can be summarized as:

Excessive speeding (15 mph) or more; (2) Reckless driving; (3) Improper or erratic traffic lane changes; (4) Following too closely; (5) A violation in connection with a fatal accident; (6) Driving a CMV without obtaining a CLP or CDL; (7) Driving a CMV without a CLP or CDL in the driver’s possession; (8) Driving a CMV without the proper class of CLP or CDL and/or endorsements; (9) Texting while driving a CMV; (10) The use of a hand-held mobile telephone while driving a CMV.

In your case, Section 383.51, is mirrored in Washington Statute RCW 46.25.010, but in WAC 308-100-130 the State further defines what it considers “serious.” The abbreviated list is as follows:

(1) Negligent driving; (2) Failure to stop; (3) Failure to yield right of way; (4) Speed too fast for conditions; (5) Improper lane change or travel; (6) Improper or erratic lane changes, including: (a) Improper overtaking on the right or left, (b) Improper driving to left of center of roadway, (8) Reckless endangerment of emergency zone workers or roadway workers, and (9) A conviction of an offense substantially similar to a violation included in this section.

After reviewing your MVR, your second, “serious,” conviction is the “Impeding Traffic” from California. While “Impeding Traffic” is not found in Section 383.51, it does fall under several sections of WAC 308-100-130, and that is why Washington has issued the disqualification of your CDL. The only way to stop the disqualification and clean up your record is to pursue post-conviction relief on at least one of the citations that you paid. 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 roadlaw@att.net.

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.