What Is Considered A Commercial Motor Vehicle?
A commercial vehicle, or “Commercial motor vehicle”(CMV), is any type of motor vehicle used for business purposes. This board definition includes everything from the fleets of AT&T, PepsiCo, Comcast, and Amazon, to even a company car used solely for advertising purposes. A commercial motor vehicle does not have to carry products or passengers.
However, when a commercial vehicle meets the weight requirements of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), then its operator must follow the administration's extensive rules and safety regulations. The FMCSA and State municipalities have laws in place specifically for CMV.
How Is A Commercial Motor Vehicle Defined in Texas?
The Texas Department of Motor Vehicles defines the term “commercial motor vehicle” as a self- propelled or towed vehicle that is used on a public highway to transport passengers or cargo if the vehicle includes any of the following qualifications;
a) The vehicle has a gross weight or registered gross weight 26,000 pounds; or
b) The vehicle is designed to transport more than 15 passengers; or
c) The vehicle is used to transport hazardous materials
Additionally, if a motor vehicle or motorcycle does not meet the above qualifications but is transporting hazardous material that requires placarding; these types of vehicles would also be required to have a commercial vehicle inspection.
How Is A Commercial Motor Vehicle Defined Federally?
Most drivers know that big rigs, or 18-wheeler tractor-trailers, are commercial vehicles, yet, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSR) have two definitions of commercial depending on whether the vehicle is used for interstate transportation or intrastate transportation.
For interstate transportation, Section 390.5 of the FMCSR defines a commercial motor vehicle as any self-propelled or towed motor vehicle used on a highway in interstate commerce to transport passengers or property when the vehicle also meets one of the following;
The vehicle gross vehicle weight rating or gross combination weight rating, or gross vehicle weight or gross combination weight, of 10,001; or
The vehicle is designed or used to transport more than 8 passengers (including the driver) for compensation; or
The vehicles is designed or used to transport more than 15 passengers; or
The vehicleIs in used to transport material found by the Secretary of Transportation to be hazardous under 49 U.S.C. 5103 and transported in a quantity requiring placarding.
However, for intrastate transportation, the FMCSR’s definition of “Commercial Motor Vehicle” gives authority to states to adopt their own definition for its version of safety regulations.
Important Texas CMV Safety Rules and Regulations
Individuals can only legally operate most commercial vehicles with special commercial driver’s licenses. Drivers receive a commercial driver’s license (CDL) following specialized training and tests.
In Texas, drivers must pass both a written and practical test to get their CDLs. The practical skill test must utilize a commercial vehicle similar to the one the driver will operate with their license.
CDLs come with special regulations. Drivers with a CDL must:
Drive only the commercial vehicles specified by their class of CDL
Observe the distinction between intrastate and. interstate commerce, depending on the license
Adhere to Hours of service regulations
Stay below the legal blood alcohol concentration limit of 0.04%
Obtain endorsements for certain DMVs and/or cargo
Pass a special medical certification requirement
Texas law waives the CDL requirement for certain commercial motor vehicles. For example, the Texas Department of Public Safety doesn’t require CLDs for military vehicles, farm vehicles, fire trucks, emergency vehicles, air-carrier owned vehicles, or recreational vehicles exclusively for personal use.
Instead, depending on the vehicle, the state requires a Class A or Class B noncommercial license.
Breaking Texas CMV Regulations
CMVs are subject to more regulations than standard vehicles. Both federal laws included in FMCSA and Texas state laws regulate CMVs.
For example, CMV operators must have specialized insurance policies. The classes of CMVs are also regulated by weight.
It’s up to the owner of the CMV to recognize the class of their vehicle and adhere to all applicable regulations. Otherwise, the person operating the vehicle may unintentionally violate the law. Breaking CMV regulations can lead to license suspension and fines.
When the owners of CMVs violate state or federal regulations and that violation leads to an accident, the victim may have a case for a civil suit. The CMV operator may be guilty of negligence and thus liable for the victim’s damages.
Negligent CMV operators may face both fines from the Department of Transportation and the victim’s proven damages. Commercial vehicle accident liability can apply to both the driver ant the individual or company that owns the vehicle.
How Do CMV Regulations Affect My Texas Personal Injury Claim?
It’s important to know the legal classification of the vehicle that caused your accidents and injuries. CMV classification affects the investigation of any potential fault for the crash. Additionally, CMV classification can affect your legal rights following injury or property damage.
Luckily, you don’t have to face the aftermath of your commercial motor vehicle accident alone. An experienced attorney can help you navigate the complexities of your case and craft the best claim possible.
The Texas Personal Injury Lawyers at Sneed|Mitchell LLP knows commercial vehicle accident lawsuits inside and out. We’ll help you get the compensation you deserve. Contact us today to schedule your complimentary consultation.