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A smiling trucker stands outside of his truck showing his CDL license.

Breaking Barriers: Can I Get My CDL After A DUI? 

After getting convicted of driving under the influence, you’re likely feeling eager to get a fresh start and put the past behind you. If you’re thinking about trucking as a career, you may wonder if you’ll even be able to get a CDL after a DUI. Having a DUI doesn’t have to hold you back from getting your commercial driver’s license (CDL) and finding a job as a trucker, but it can throw up some roadblocks. 

Although you can get a CDL if you have a previous DUI, there are some restrictions you need to consider. It’s typically more challenging to get hired as a commercial trucker if you have a driving-related conviction, but being prepared can help you increase your chances. Understanding the requirements can set you up for success as you explore potential job opportunities.  

Depending on where you live, a DUI in your personal vehicle may have resulted in the need to file an SR-22 certificate. This can have major implications on your insurance rates, since it labels you a high-risk driver.  

A Drunk Driving Conviction While Driving a Commercial Truck 

If you already have a CDL and a trucking job, it’s critical to avoid getting a DUI. If you get a DUI while driving a truck, it comes with serious consequences. If you were transporting hazardous cargo, you may even serve jail time. It will put your driving career at risk. If you get multiple DUIs as a commercial driver, you could even get a lifetime ban from getting a CDL. 

It’s also easier to get a DUI while behind the wheel of your truck, as the legal limit for commercial drivers is only 0.04% — half of the legal limit for regular drivers.  

Understanding the Complexity of a DUI History and Acquiring a CDL 

You can get a commercial license with a DUI, but finding a trucking company to hire you — or trying to buy your own insurance as an independent owner-operator — is another story. If you are thinking about attending CDL school, let them know before you start about your DUI so you can take full advantage of their suggestions.  

If your license was suspended after a DUI, you’ll  have to wait to start your CDL application until your license is fully reinstated. If you still have restrictions on your license or your reinstatement is pending, you won’t be eligible for a CDL. 

Waiting Out the License Suspension Period Before Getting a CDL 

To qualify for a CDL, it’s important to demonstrate your ability to be responsible on the road. As a result, you need to complete all court-ordered requirements to get your license back. 

Every state requires you to complete some sort of suspension period before you can apply for a CDL. The length of your suspension can vary depending on the state you live in, so it’s important to check your local laws. Some states only require you to wait out your original license suspension, while others have longer waiting periods. If you have a history of prior convictions, your suspension period will likely be even longer. 

Time is the Healer: How Long after a DUI Can I Get my CDL? 

Typically, you’ll have to wait between one to three years before getting a CDL after getting your license suspended. Many states only require you to complete the waiting period for your original license suspension. Other states have longer minimum requirements.  

For example, in Texas, you may only have a 90-day suspension for some offenses. However, you have to wait a minimum of a year before you can apply for a commercial license. Research the requirements in your state or consult a lawyer about your specific situation before starting the application process. 

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The Power of Reinstatement: Clearing Your DUI Record 

Once your license is reinstated after an SR-22 filing, you’ll be able to have full driving privileges. Many states don’t allow you to seal or expunge DUI convictions, but you can still get your commercial license and possibly have a successful driving career. 

To get your license restored quickly and remove barriers to getting your CDL, carefully follow all your reinstatement requirements. This may include attending a drug and alcohol class, installing an ignition interlock device in your car, and paying any fines.  

Of course, it’s also important to drive safely and avoid any future driving infractions. Having multiple charges on your record can greatly increase the amount of time it takes to get your CDL. In some severe cases, it can even disqualify you completely. 

Steps Towards a New Beginning: Tips for Acquiring Your CDL Post-DUI 

If you’re ready to pursue a driving career after taking care of your DUI, here are a few tips for getting started: 

  • Review reinstatement requirements: Make sure you understand everything you have to do to regain your driving privileges. 
  • Complete your waiting period: While you wait for reinstatement, follow all rules of the road and avoid having any other legal issues to prevent delays in your timeline. 
  • Research CDL requirements: As your reinstatement date approaches, review the steps involved with getting a commercial license in your state. 
  • Study for your exams: Be prepared to pass a written exam and a road test whenever you become eligible to apply for your CDL. 
  • Have a backup plan: It may take some time to find a trucking job once you get your CDL. Consider potential backup plans to support yourself while you search for a position. 

Being prepared and having a plan can help you keep up your motivation, which is key to moving forward after your conviction. 

The Impact of DUI on Your Driving Career 

You can legally get a CDL after a DUI, but can you become a successful truck driver? There aren’t any legal restrictions keeping you from being a commercial driver as long as you have your CDL. However, some employers may be wary of hiring drivers with a DUI on their record. 

Trucking companies pay for the insurance for their drivers. High-risk insurance after a drunk driving conviction is much higher than regular insurance. If you decide to go the owner-operator route, your insurance may still be too high to justify the career choice. 

Before applying for truck driver positions, review each company’s policies about working with drivers who have DUIs. Some may require you to complete an additional waiting period before applying, in addition to the initial period of waiting to restore your license. 

Be persistent and keep looking for employers who are open to hiring drivers with previous convictions. Remember, the further away your conviction is, the more likely employers will be to hire you. If you can’t find a job right away, you may want to circle back and reapply after more time has passed. 

We Can Help You Get Back Behind the CDL Wheel after a DUI 

One of the critical steps in handling your DUI conviction is meeting minimum insurance coverage requirements with SR-22 insurance. You may need to consider how the SR-22 works for non-owners, too. 

Once you’re ready, SR-22 Adviser can quickly provide you with an insurance quote to get you on your way to reinstatement. Reach out to our partner online to get a quote and learn more. 

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