Truckers have opinions on just about everything. It is not surprising though, as truck drivers have a lot of miles to think about various things. When it comes to getting a citation, it seems the consensus believes, at least since the creation of CSA 2010, that you should always ask for a ticket over a warning. This may not always be the best course of action to take.

Fact: You can fight a ticket in court and possibly get it either dismissed or reduced to a less serious violation.

Fact: You cannot fight a written warning. Signing a written warning is an admission of guilt for the offense listed on the warning ticket. There is no court date. There is no fine.

While the two facts above are true, it does not mean that one is better than the other every time. Truck drivers have a lot in common with one another, yet they are also uniquely individual at the same time.

Drivers are generally concerned about their driving record, and with good reason. Too many violations could render a driver unemployable or uninsurable. Having a CDL means a source of income. Having it taken away for too many infractions of the law also takes away their income.

So which is better? Citation or warning? Well, it really depends on who you are. If you are a driver with a squeaky clean record, a warning is okay in most cases. A warning does not come with a fine, so no revenue lost. A citation will have costs, either to fight it (attorney fees, time off work, court costs, etc.) or just the cost of the fine to pay. 

If you are a driver with multiple recent citations and/or warnings, a citation can be fought and possibly removed from your record, where a warning cannot. However, this is not necessarily the end of it. 

If you are leased to a carrier, they may view it as a pattern of behavior. Multiple citations and/or written warnings can indicate that the driver is a possible liability to the carrier. Likewise, this driver’s insurance company may also view it as a pattern of higher risk associated with this driver and increase their rates. So asking or demanding a citation from the officer instead of a warning may be just asking for added expenses, since the end result may still be termination or higher insurance costs due to a pattern of risk.

Frequency seems to be the key. Any driver can have a bad day. Sometimes citations are issued to the wrong vehicle. If you receive a citation that you feel is unjust, fight it. If you are offered a warning for something you do not feel you deserve, ask for a citation so you can fight it in court. If you are offered a warning for something you got caught doing, and you have a clean record, graciously accept the written warning and move on.

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Greg Huggins

Greg has been in the trucking industry since the late 1980s. After spending 25+ years as an owner operator with United Van Lines, he leased to Landstar Express America in 2014. Greg is always trying to learn something new and share what he has learned with others.

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