- Proper licensing for commercial truck drivers is a crucial part of preventing truck accidents, as trucks are more difficult to drive and more dangerous to operate than cars.
- Georgia has specific CDL requirements for truck drivers and driving without a valid CDL in Georgia can result in severe penalties for truck drivers.
- If an unlicensed or improperly licensed truck driver causes an accident, the trucker and the trucking company may be liable for any injuries or damages.
Proper licensing for commercial truck drivers can help prevent truck accidents, as licensing requirements help ensure truck drivers have been trained to safely operate their vehicles.
In Georgia, regulations and laws require commercial truck drivers to possess a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) and meet specific training requirements to operate their vehicles. These licensing requirements are designed to ensure that truck drivers have the necessary skills and knowledge to operate a commercial vehicle safely. The laws that govern CDL requirements for commercial truck drivers in Georgia are primarily contained in Title 40, Chapter 5, Article 5 of the Georgia Code.
Commercial truck drivers are required to follow a number of safety regulations, such as getting enough rest and not driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. If a truck driver violates these regulations and causes an accident, they may be held liable for the damages caused.
If you have been involved in a car or truck accident with a commercial truck driver in Georgia, it is important to know your legal rights.
Georgia’s Drivers’ License Requirements for Truck Drivers
A Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) is a special license that allows drivers to operate large, heavy, or hazardous material-carrying vehicles. In the US, the CDL is divided into three classes:
- Georgia Class A License: will enable drivers to operate tractor-trailers, semi trucks, or other combination of vehicles with a total weight of 26,001 pounds or more.
- Georgia Class B License: will enable drivers to drive straight trucks, buses, and dump trucks that weigh 26,001 pounds or more.
- Georgia Class C License: will enable drivers to use vehicles designed to transport 16 or more passengers or hazardous materials.
To obtain a CDL, drivers must first obtain a Commercial Learner’s Permit (CLP) by passing a written knowledge test. Then, after gaining driving experience, drivers must take a CDL skills test that includes a vehicle inspection, basic control skills, and an on-road driving test. Additional tests may be required depending on the type of vehicle and endorsements needed.
The Entry-Level Driver Training (ELDT) rule establishes minimum training requirements for individuals applying for a Class A or Class B CDL for the first time, upgrading an existing CDL, or obtaining specific endorsements. The ELDT rule covers both theoretical and practical training components. Individuals must complete the required training before taking the CDL skills test. Academic training covers essential operation and safety procedures, while practical training involves hands-on experience with a qualified instructor.
Consequences of Truckers Driving Without Proper Licensing in Georgia
In Georgia, driving without a valid Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) is a serious offense that can result in severe penalties for truck drivers. Under Georgia law, operating a commercial motor vehicle without a CDL can result in fines, suspension or revocation of the driver’s license and even imprisonment.
According to the Georgia Department of Driver Services, a first offense of driving without a CDL can result in a fine of up to $2,500 and a one-year suspension of the driver’s license. A second offense within three years can result in penalties of up to $5,000 and a lifetime suspension of the driver’s license. In addition to these penalties, truck drivers caught driving without a CDL may also face charges for violating federal and state regulations governing commercial motor vehicles, which can result in further fines and penalties.
Overall, truck drivers in Georgia who are caught driving without a valid CDL can face significant consequences, including hefty fines, license suspension or revocation, and possible imprisonment. Therefore, truck drivers need to have the proper licensing and training before operating a commercial motor vehicle to avoid these penalties and promote safer driving practices on Georgia’s roads.
What Happens When an Unlicensed Truck Driver Causes a Semi-Truck Accident in Georgia?
Operating a commercial motor vehicle without the proper Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) is considered negligence in Georgia. Truck drivers who fail to obtain a valid CDL or who operate a commercial motor vehicle outside the scope of their CDL are not qualified to operate these vehicles safely and, therefore, pose a risk to other drivers on the road.
If a truck driver causes an accident while driving without the proper CDL, they may be held liable for any injuries or damages resulting from the accident. The injured party may be able to pursue legal action against the truck driver and the trucking company for negligence. They may argue that if the driver was adequately licensed, they would have avoided making the negligent decision that resulted in the truck accident.
Furthermore, the fact that the driver was driving without a CDL may be used to convince the insurance company or even a jury that the driver should not have been on the road. And that the driver operating a vehicle on the road is where the negligence began, resulting in the accident.
What if the Drivers License is Expired?
Truck drivers are required to renew their CDL on a regular basis, typically every four years. Driving with an expired CDL may indicate that the driver failed to comply with the state’s regulations and safety standards, and was not properly qualified or trained to operate a commercial motor vehicle. In some cases, an injured party may argue that the driver’s failure to renew their CDL was a breach of their duty to operate the commercial motor vehicle safely.
Does the Lack of Licensing Matter if the Car Driver Caused the Truck Wreck?
Generally speaking, there is a difference between the proximate cause of (who was at fault) an accident and licensing requirements. In most cases, if a car driver caused a truck wreck, the lack of licensing of the truck driver would not necessarily be relevant to the determination of fault for the accident.
The car driver would still be responsible for any damages or injuries they caused in the accident, regardless of whether the truck driver had a valid Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) or not. However, if there were proof that an improperly trained or licensed truck driver caused or contributed to the crash, a driver may still be able to pursue legal action against the trucker and their employer for negligence.
Determining if a Truck Driver Was Unlicensed or Was Driving on an Expired License When an Accident Happened
If you are a car accident victim and you suspect that the truck driver involved did not have the proper license, there are several steps you can take to check their licensing status. First, you can request a copy of the police report for the accident. The police report should contain information about the driver’s license, including the type of license they hold and its expiration date. If you do not have a copy of the police report, you can request one from the local police department that responded to the accident.
You can also check the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) website to verify the truck driver’s licensing status. The FMCSA maintains a database of all commercial drivers in the US and their licensing information. You can search for the driver by their name or their Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) number to confirm that they have a valid CDL and that it is current. If the driver does not have a valid CDL or their license has expired, this information will be noted in the database.
By taking these steps, you can verify the truck driver’s licensing status and determine whether they were properly licensed at the time of the accident. If you discover that the driver did not have a valid CDL or their license was expired, this information may be relevant to your personal injury case and can be used as evidence of negligence.
Can You Get More Compensation for a Truck Accident Caused by an Unlicensed Driver?
Potentially. If you are injured in a truck accident caused by an unlicensed driver, you may be entitled to more compensation than you would be if the driver had been licensed. This is because the unlicensed driver may have been negligently or intentionally operating the truck illegally, and, if so, this may have contributed to the accident.
Can You Get Punitive Damages in a Truck Accident Caused by an Unlicensed Driver?
Punitive damages are awarded to punish the defendant for their reckless or intentional conduct. In a truck accident case, punitive damages may be awarded if the driver was acting in a grossly negligent manner, such as operating without a license, driving recklessly, violating the FMCSA regulations, or driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
However, it is important to note that punitive damages are not always awarded, even if the driver was at fault for the accident. The court will consider a number of factors, such as the state’s laws, before deciding whether to award punitive damages.
How to Begin or File a Personal Injury Claim Against an Unlicensed Truck Driver
If you have been injured in a car accident caused by an unlicensed truck driver, you may be entitled to compensation.
The first step is to seek medical attention for any injuries. After receiving medical treatment, you can file a personal injury claim against the truck driver.
To begin or file a personal injury claim, you will need to gather evidence of the accident, such as police reports, witness statements, and medical records. You will also need to contact an experienced personal injury attorney who can help you navigate the legal process and fight for the compensation you deserve.
The Millar Law Firm’s Georgia legal team has 30 years of experience in handling truck accident cases. We can help you get started and potentially recover a settlement. Contact us today at 770-400-0000 to schedule a free consultation. Our phones are answered 24/7.