Traffic court judges, are you guilty of ‘masking’?

“Masking” is a phenomenon by which truck drivers charged with offenses that could cost them their license avoid that fate via a plea bargain. Typical maneuvers include getting a prosecutor and judge to agree to changing a commercial motor vehicle ticket to a non-CMV ticket, or ordering the driver into a diversion program such as a traffic-safety course.

Judges are sometimes swayed by the defense argument that a commercial motor vehicle (CMV) driver shouldn’t lose his or her livelihood over a traffic ticket. But masking offenses this way results in an inaccurate driver’s record for CMV drivers, it keeps reckless CMV drivers on the road (masked drivers have caused deadly accidents), and masking offenses of CMV drivers violates federal law.

Over the next two years, the NJC will offer judges a free one-hour webcast on masking and other commercial driving offenses. The webcasts are sponsored by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. Starting next April the College will present a total of 50 webcasts tailored to the laws of individual states. For more information, email Judicial Education Manager Bryan Walker at bryanwalker@judges.org.

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