Police Target Truck Driver with Unreasonable Citation

Sometimes police will issue you a traffic citation for something you did not do, or something that was not your fault.  This is certainly irritating to conventional drivers, perhaps even harassment, but it can downright harmful to those with a commercial driver’s licence (CDL). Any traffic violation has the potential to affect a CDL holder’s current employment or future employability.  CDL holders are not eligible for Defensive Driving Diversion, so if they are convicted of a traffic violation, they get points, the violation is reported to a national registry, and they have to report that violation to their employer by law.

We recently helped a CDL holder who had been issued a traffic citation even though he did not break any laws or do anything wrong.  The facts are as follows:  The CDL holder is a long distance truck driver who was driving an eighteen wheeler (a semi truck) on city streets in Phoenix, Arizona.  He went to make a right-hand turn to reach his destination.  Due to the size of the truck, it was necessary to take a wide turn that had to be initiated from a lane not immediately adjacent to the curb.  The CDL holder looked to make sure he was clear to turn, signaled he was turning, slowed his speed, and initiated the turn.  After the CDL driver initiated his turn, a small car (that was exceeding the speed limit) came flying down the road and attempted to squeeze between the curb and the truck, colliding with the front of the truck, ricocheting off it and into the curb, and slamming into an SUV that was ahead of the truck two lanes over, then finally coming to a stop.

An officer arrived on the scene, reviewed the incident, interviewed all involved, and then issued a citation to the CDL holder, alleging that he had violated the law in having had an “improper position for right turn.” This officer was just plain wrong in issuing this citation in this case, and the trucker wanted to fight the charge, so they hired us.

The law in Arizona regarding right turns states that “a right turn shall be made as close as practicable to the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway.” (emphasis added) A.R.S. 28-751(1).  An eighteen wheeler has a turning radius of approximately 55 ft., and would require about 27 ft. of roadway for a right turn. Anyone who has ever seen an eighteen wheeler make a right turn would have seen that, and would likely know that if the truck initiated the turn immediately adjacent to the curb, the truck would ride up over the corner curb, destroy any traffic light/stop sign/telephone pole there, not to mention any other structures or fixtures within that 27 ft. turning zone, not to mention the serious danger to the lives of any pedestrians or bicyclists in its path.

In this particular case, after the all the evidence had been presented by the prosecution, and by taking full advantage of the right of cross-examination, and even before we needed to put on any evidence on our behalf, we were able to achieve a justly deserved “Not Responsible” verdict for the CDL holder. No points, no fines.

Every case is different, and we do not always win, but frivolous citations such as this are certainly worth contesting — and having skilled and experienced counsel greatly improves the chances of a successful resolution.