PBJ, Masking, and your Maryland Commercial Driver’s License (DCL)
Maryland’s Probation Before Judgement disposition is often used in minor traffic cases to allow people to avoid the points from a conviction from impacting their insurance rates. Probation Before Judgement allows a judge to impose probation before a judgement is entered, and upon the successful completion of the probation (frequently a one-day unsupervised probation), stops the judgement from being entered against the person. This means that if a person gets a PBJ for a traffic ticket then the points do not get assessed and if the person is an out of state driver, then there is no conviction to report to that person’s home state.
Unfortunately, this does not apply to CDL drivers. The Federal Motor Carrier Regulations prohibit States from Masking convictions for violations of their traffic laws. Masking is Prohibited by 49 C.F.R. § 384.226:
“The State must not mask, defer imposition of judgment, or allow an individual to enter into a diversion program that would prevent a CDL driver’s conviction for any violation, in any type of motor vehicle, of a State or local traffic control law (other than parking, vehicle weight, or vehicle defect violations) from appearing on the driver’s record, whether the driver was convicted for an offense committed in the State where the driver is licensed in another State.”
Convictions are Defined in 49 C.F.R § 383.5:
A conviction is “(a)ny unvacated adjudication of guilt, or a determination that a person has violated or failed to comply with the law in a court of original jurisdiction or by an authorized administrative tribunal, an unvacated forfeiture of bail or collateral deposited to secure the person’s appearance in court, a plea of guilty or nolo contender accepted by the court, the payment of a fine or court cost, or violation of a condition of release without bail, regardless of whether or not the penalty is rebated, suspended, or prorated.”
Translating this from legalese into plain English: a CDL driver’s convictions for out of state traffic infractions get reported to their home State, whether or not a Judge grants them the benefit of a Probation Before Judgment disposition. An out-of-state CDL driver will still get points and all of the other collateral consequences of a conviction even if that is not what they or the judge intended on their court date.
This anti-Masking prohibition does not prohibit the CDL driver from being acquitted of the charges or having the charges dismissed for lack of evidence. This is why it is extremely important for CDL drivers to understand all of their legal rights and the consequences of all of the possible outcomes of their case. While PBJ won’t help with hiding points, there are potentially other ways that your case can be resolved that will stop points from being assessed and any collateral consequences.
Contacting a Maryland traffic attorney as soon as you are cited with a traffic offense is the smartest move that a CDL driver can make.