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Defending Trucking Cases: De-Weaponizing the CDL Manual and Challenging Adverse Testimony

Recording of a 90-minute CLE video webinar with Q&A

This program is included with the Strafford CLE Pass. Click for more information.
This program is included with the Strafford All-Access Pass. Click for more information.

Conducted on Thursday, April 13, 2023

Recorded event now available

or call 1-800-926-7926

This CLE course will discuss how defense counsel can prevent the plaintiff from using the Commercial Drivers' License (CDL) manual to turn an accident into a case of "professional driver" malpractice with inflated damages. The program will discuss how to recognize the potential pitfalls surrounding the CDL manual and minimize--if not eliminate--the plaintiff's attempts to over-emphasize its importance through the use of strategic decisions from the onset of the case.


The CDL manual has been weaponized in trucking litigation. Plaintiff's counsel frequently posits that the manual carries the force of law, and that violation of the manual's tenants amounts to illegal acts. Since it is permissible to question the driver about familiarity with the CDL, plaintiff's counsel can often illicit damaging testimony from the defendant driver or company, leading to nuclear verdicts with their CDL manual weapon of mass destruction.

To avoid an excess judgment or unnecessary exposure, defense counsel must anticipate, prepare for, and challenge potentially adverse testimony about the CDL manual. Defense counsel should also educate the court and jury about the appropriate place of the CDL in driver education and about its limits to address all driving situations.

Listen as this experienced panel of trucking defense attorneys shows how to keep the plaintiff from making the CDL manual the centerpiece of its case and what to do if the CDL manual is over-emphasized.



  1. Background of the CDL manual
  2. Legal status of the CDL vs. regulations and statutes
  3. Handling an improper cause of action based on the CDL manual
  4. Admissibility
  5. Taking and defending depositions about CDL manual
  6. Problem topics


The panel will review these and other pivotal issues:

  • Does the CDL constitute a national minimum standard for driver qualifications? Does the CDL create a heightened standard of care?
  • What potential problems are created by the CDL manual?
  • What should you look for in retaining a defense expert on the CDL manual?
  • What questions should you ask a plaintiff's expert to set up a potential Daubert-type motion?
  • What policies should motor carriers consider instituting in light of the CDL manual's language?


Monroe, G. Clark
G. Clark Monroe, II


Mr. Monroe’s transportation law practice includes truck accident defense, cargo and freight claims, coverage...  |  Read More

Rutherford, Matthew
Matthew E. (Matt) Rutherford, Jr.


Mr. Rutherford is an AV-rated insurance defense attorney, focusing on transportation, premises liability, UM/UIM,...  |  Read More

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