Negotiating Plea Deals

Transport Horses with a CDL? Avoid Getting Traffic Tickets! Here's What You Need to Know

by Flenn Lane

If you have a CDL to transport horses, you need to make sure that you understand the laws and regulations that you are required to meet. Getting ticketed could result in the loss of your CDL because you are held to higher standards. Here's what you need to know. 

Moving Violations

Getting ticketed for moving violations is something you'll want to avoid because doing so will add points to your driving record, depending on the violations. As with any driver's license, too many points will cause your license to be suspended. Some moving violations in some states, however, will result in the loss of your CDL for a period of time. For example, speeding in excess of 15 mph or more above the speed limit can result in a suspension for a period of time as pre-determined by the state laws.

Here's the kicker—this also applies to when you are ticketed while driving your personal vehicle. Always, always, always pay attention to the posted road signs and obey traffic laws no matter what type of vehicle you are driving. If, by chance, you do get ticketed for a moving violation, hire a traffic lawyer. Even if the lawyer cannot get the ticket thrown out, he or she may be able to negotiate for a lower violation so you'll be able to keep your CDL, especially if your livelihood depends on it. 

Failure to Meet Safety Requirements

Another way to risk fines, losing your CDL, or having your rig and trailer impounded is if you do not meet the safety requirements of the FMCSA, such as by: 

  • not having a fire extinguisher
  • not having trailer chains hooked up properly
  • not having emergency brakes on the trailer
  • not keeping a log of the breaks you take 
  • having no record of the miles you've driven
  • not having flares or emergency triangles
  • having an inoperable breakaway brake box on the trailer
  • having no working flashlight
  • not having a first-aid kit

You will likely be given what is called a fix-it ticket if you fail to meet these types of safety requirements in addition to the other penalties. This means that you will need to show law enforcement proof that you've met the requirements before you are able to drive the truck and trailer legally again. This can be proven by simply taking your vehicle to a police station for an inspection. If this happens, you'll want to verify that the traffic court received documentation from the law-enforcement officer that you met your obligations of the fix-it ticket. If there is no record of it after several days, speak with a traffic lawyer who will be able to follow up with the court. 

Improper Documentation

As you know, there is a lot of documentation that you are required to have for the vehicle, horse trailer, and horses that you transport. You'll need to make sure that your Department of Transportation (DOT) number is up to date and that you are in the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration's (FMCSA) Unified Registration System (URS). Of course, you'll need to have insurance coverage as well. Not meeting these requirements could result in a law-enforcement officer impounding your rig and trailer, which would mean that you would need to hire someone else to come to your location to pick up the horses from your trailer. 

You'll also need to have documentation for each horse that you are transporting, specifically a negative Coggins test and an Interstate Certificate of Veterinary Inspection. The horses also need an animal identification number or other form of ID, such as a written description. Keep in mind that these documents have limitations on how long they are good for, and the limits depend on the state that issued your CDL.