Speeding penalties for different types of vehicles greatly vary. Typically, the bigger the vehicle, the bigger the fine. Here in California, speeding truck drivers face graver penalties compared to non-commercial vehicle drivers.
Truck drivers are held to a higher standard than other drivers on the road. Driving a truck, especially on freeways, not only requires a certain level of skill, but constant monitoring of lane assignments and speeds as well.
Installation of radar detectors and jammers are strictly prohibited in commercial vehicles such as trucks. California police adhere to strict calibration schedules for their radar equipment. Although different police departments follow their own calibration schedule, it is required for them to exceed, or at least meet National Traffic Highway Safety Administration standards once every three years. If you are cited for truck speeding, the radar that caught you was most probably calibrated for accuracy. Nevertheless, it’s still a good idea to have a traffic attorney look into that and other possible technicalities, which could lead to fine reduction or even ticket dismissal.
Truck Speeding on I-5
California speeding penalties and speeding violations on I-5 are classified into three types:
Driving 1-15 mph over the speed limit will carry a fine of $230-$250.
Driving 16-25 mph over the speed limit will carry a fine of $360-$380.
Driving 26 mph and above over the limit will carry a fine of $490-$500.
California police follow stricter measures when it comes to trucks. A speed limit of 55 mph is strictly enforced in freeways as speeding trucks take longer to slow down and stop compared to other vehicles, often resulting in violent crashes.
CVC 22406 (a) states that commercial vehicles are strictly prohibited to travel more than 55 mph on California highways. For drivers holding a commercial driver’s license, or CDL, highway speeding tickets are not only expensive, but potentially damaging to your record as well. DMV can add 1.5 points on your driving record for up to 3 years, depending on your violation,
Driving 1-9 mph over the 55 mph speed limit has a corresponding fine of $285 for a first offense. Speeding over 10 mph, on the other hand, will cost you double the amount for a first offense. These fines are also the same even on highway areas that have a specified speed limit different from passenger vehicles. A number of seasoned truckers have a governor on their trucks that will stop speeding, but the majority of independent and newbie truckers don’t use those. But regardless whether trucks use them or not, governors are usually inaccurate to start with.
Lane Assignment for Trucks
Commercial vehicles such as trucks must always travel in their assigned lanes, or as close to the rightmost side of the road as possible. Driving at the center and left lane is allowed only for safe passing or to make a highway exit. Failure to stay on the right lane can carry a fine of no more than $500, pursuant to CVC 21655, Driving on Right Side and CVC 22348 (c), Speed Laws.
Differential Speed for Trucks
California’s strict truck differential speed is based on the principle that heavy vehicles behave differently than light vehicles in different conditions. Let’s say for an example, on the I-5 highway, sharp decline and curves must be taken into account. Heavy commercial vehicles such as trucks and buses require more time and distance to slow down and stop. The number of lanes on the highway should also be considered. A truck driving at a slower pace allows non-commercial traffic to pass safely.
Heavy vehicles must strictly follow the general 55 mph limit, and on top of that, correct their speed for differential limits. This is why it’s not unusual to see a 55 mph-moving truck slow down to 45 mph or even 35 mph in certain areas within a short stretch of a highway.
Here’s another example. If a truck is speeding at 60 mph and passes through a special zone on the highway with a decreased speed limit of 35 mph, it will incur a 25 mph speeding violation instead of 5 mph (if basing on the general 55 mph limit) according to the general highway law. The penalty will also drastically increase and could be considered as a serious violation with the FMCSA, which will put you out of service for 60 days.
NOTE: The aforementioned fines are only rough estimates and for information purposes only. Fines vary depending on the California Judicial Uniform Bail and Penalty Schedule and the country bail schedule.
Paying for Truck Speeding Tickets
California has one of the most complicated highway systems in the country. It presents various setbacks for commercial drivers such as strict speeding fines in flexible speed zones. On top of that, driving a truck in itself has its own challenges. Aside from considering the safety of your load, driving on the right lane is a must to be able to see every speed limit sign.
Seasoned truckers are aware of the consequences of speeding, but for newbies and first-time offenders, it’s highly recommended to seek legal advice from a reputable traffic law attorney before pleading guilty and paying your fine.