The Importance of Keeping Your License Clean
On your way to becoming a professional truck driver, you may think that getting your CDL ensures that you can get a driving job. Getting your CDL is only part of the equation. Next, you have to get a job and that might not be possible if you ruin your driving record.
I cannot emphasize enough the importance of keeping your license clean. It can mean the difference between accomplishing your dreams and not.
THE DMV POINTS SYSTEM
When you get a ticket, your state records it on your driving record. Most states use a point system to keep track of driving violations. These correlate with different violation codes. Other states just take action against your driver's license based on how severe the violation is.
Some of the general violations that could result in points being added to your license are speeding, failure to stop at a stop sign or red light, aggressive or reckless driving, passing a stopped school bus, and failure to yield.
If you let your driver’s license expire, it could result in points, as well. Driving with an expired license can lead to being arrested and your vehicle could be impounded.
In Delaware, your license can be suspended if you were speeding 25 MPH over the limit or faster, you were convicted of driving under the influence (DUI), or you receive 14 points in 2 years (24 months)
Fourteen points can rack up fast. Here are a few violations and the points that can be applied for each of them in Delaware.
- Speeding (less than 10 MPH over limit) – 2 points
- Ignoring a stop sign or traffic signal – 3 points
- Speeding (10 - 14 MPH over limit) – 4 points
- Speeding (15 + MPH over limit) – 5 points
- Passing a school bus – 6 points
- Reckless and/or aggressive driving – 6 points
WHAT HAPPENS IF YOU RACK UP POINTS
If you are pursuing a career in professional truck driving by getting your CDL through a truck driving school, the last thing you want is for anything to hold you back from getting a job. Not having a clean license can keep you from getting hired for many reasons.
1. INSURANCE PREMIUMS
You are looking at paying some hefty insurance premiums if you are deemed a “high risk”. You will be looked upon as a liability and it can definitely affect your ability to get hired. Many companies couldn’t hire you even if they wanted to because their insurance company wouldn’t let them.
On the other hand, if you can maintain a clean driving record, you can receive discounts on your insurance rates and increase your hireability. Insurance companies determine your coverage rate by examining your history of accidents and number of points on your driving record.
2. LESS LENIENCY IN TRAFFIC COURT
Let’s say you have a few points on your record and you get into an accident that sends you to traffic court. That judge is going to look at you a lot different if you have a clean record than if you have already proved yourself untrustworthy. You can actually receive fewer points or fines if you have a clean license.
3. CAN GET LICENSE SUSPENDED
If you do get enough points applied toward your license, you will get it suspended. Even with a reduced sentence, your license is likely to be suspended for a minimum of 90 days. Let’s say it’s your first offense. Then you’ll be eligible for a restricted license after 45 days. You’ll be able to drive to work and back, but that’s all. In order to get your license reinstated you will have to pay hundreds of dollars in fines and fees.
HOW TO IMPROVE YOUR DRIVING RECORD
What is considered a good driving record? You are considered to have a good driving record if you have zero points on your license. Also, having no accidents in the last 5 years makes your record more impressive and likely to be looked upon favorably.
But, let’s say you screwed up. Your driving record just doesn’t look too good. You can improve a bad driving record by completing several different tasks. These tasks are intended to improve your driving skills, awareness, and to demonstrate your willingness to take responsibility for your own driving actions.
1. REQUEST A COPY OF YOUR DRIVING RECORD
Begin by requesting a copy of your driving record from your state in order to get an idea of what you are dealing with. Fix any errors on your driving record that might occur.
2. TAKE DRIVING CLASSES
Some states will allow you to take Defensive Driving Classes in order to get points deducted from your license. Attending these classes can even get violations erased from your record altogether.
This one is the toughest one but some mistakes just have to be paid for. Many violations are on your license for a limited amount of time, though. Time itself will erase these. In the meantime, drive safer and even drive less. Ride with a friend or find alternative ways to get where you want to go like taking the bus.
The wisest course of action is, of course, to keep your license clean in the first place. Driving should be considered a responsibility and not just a privilege. We all owe it to the other drivers on the road to be safe every time we get behind the wheel.
If you want to pursue your dream of driving a truck for a living by attending a CDL school like Smith & Solomon, then make sure that when that day finally arrives, and you have worked so hard to accomplish your dreams, that nothing stands in your way.