Drivers get CDL tickets and violations. There is no denying that. It comes with the territory. The question is what do you do with violations when they occur.  

There seems to be a divide in opinion among fleets on how to handle tickets. There are the fleet managers that say “Drivers should not get tickets and if they do, then they do not need to work here”.  There is another group of fleet managers that say, “drivers should absolutely defend themselves!”. What is the right approach for your fleet? Let’s dive into this deeper.

Why Some Carriers Do Not Utilize Legal Services

There is an understandable concern for fleet managers that do not want to fight CDL tickets that drivers receive. The concern is that drivers that have a legal service or fleet that endorses legal service will encourage unsafe driving. Giving drivers a way to fight CDL tickets, in the mind of a safety manager, does seem to conflict with other safety initiatives.  

The issue with this argument is that assuming fighting CDL tickets will create more unsafe driving is similar to saying buying car insurance causes more accidents. No driver wants to get a ticket, but they do happen. Local governments rely on ticket revenue and will find ways to make their quotas.

In addition, drivers are already paying for legal services. Most are already buying a pre-paid legal service or hiring attorneys to fight tickets. The problem with that is fleet managers do not have immediate visibility when a violation occurs.  Yes, drivers are supposed to tell you, but that does not always happen. Depending on how often you run MVRs you might not see the citation for 30 days up to 12 months later.

Why You Should Fight

If you are a current fleet manager then you know that driver retention is key to controlling costs and growing your fleet. Creating value-adds for your drivers is critical in your retention efforts.  Fleet managers that are understanding what drivers face every day will connect more with their driver base. Safety has to be the priority and part of the culture. However, understanding that your drivers are being looked at hard by DOT and tickets are going to happen, are helpful to bridge the relationship.

Here are Benefits to Fighting CDL Tickets with a Legal Service
  • Visibility – Carriers that use a legal service to fight tickets have better visibility to when tickets occur. Visibility enhances your safety initiatives.
  • CSA Score Improvement – Tickets associated with an inspection that are adjudicated in court can be updated on the CSA score.  For example on an 11-14 mph over speeding ticket result is 21 pts on CSA for the first 6 months.  However, after being reduced to a non-moving in court it will be updated to a 1pt violation on CSA. Get a dismissal and now there are 0 pts. That happens 10 times a year and that can make a big difference in your scores.
  • Reduced Insurance Costs – Improving your CSA score certainly helps keep DOT off your back, but it also helps you to negotiate better insurance rates.
  • Driver Retention – This might be your biggest benefit. Going back to the issue of drivers in short supply; fleet managers should do everything they can to retain good drivers.  Fleets are seeing good drivers, all too often, get a few CDL tickets within a year that become ineligible to drive. Fleets that provide a way for drivers to proactively protect themselves also create one more point of stickiness that is becoming critically important in today’s market.

At the end of the day carriers that have a good strategy in place to attract and retain drivers will continue to grow.  Punishing drivers for getting tickets certainly use to be effective with fleets for getting driver compliance. However, things have changed and every driver matters to scaling your fleet. There should be consequences, but also understanding. Provide your drivers with a proactive solution to fighting CDL tickets and you will benefit from better retention, more visibility, and better CSA scores.

Click HERE to learn more about CDL Legal Benefits for drivers.