WHAT IS A CDL?
A Commercial Driver License (CDL) is a professional license that allows a person to drive commercial vehicles (think semi-trucks) and buses on public roadways in Texas and in the United states. A CDL demonstrates that you have been trained, tested and are qualified to safely operate large commercial motor vehicles. Each State has rules and requirements that need to be completed to obtain a CDL.
CDL LAWS AND LICENSE ISSUES
To get a CDL in Texas, you will need to fulfill at least two requirements before you are able to try for the license:
- You need to be 21 years old, and
- You need to have been a licensed driver for a year.
If you fulfill these two requirements, you can work towards getting your CDL in either a class A B or C. You will also need to explore which classifications and endorsements you need based on the type of driving you are looking to do with your CDL.
MOVING VIOLATIONS AND A CDL
A “moving violation” is a traffic citation that you get for violating the law while driving (i.e. “moving”). Think speeding ticket, running a stop sign or red light, illegal lane change, etc. A “non-moving violation” is a parking citation or other traffic citation you get when your car is not moving. If you have a CDL and get a moving violation, even in your personal vehicle, you’ll be in trouble.
In Texas, two serious traffic offense convictions within three years will earn you a 60-day license suspension. If you get three convictions, you’ll be suspended for 120 days. Can you imagine not working for 120 days?!! Serious traffic offenses include excessive speeding (>15 miles-per-hour over the speed limit), reckless driving, improper or erratic lane changes, following too closely and more!
Traffic ticket convictions must be reported to both your employer and Texas DPS within seven days of conviction. CDL holders are NOT eligible to take the driver safety course or defensive driving for dismissal of a ticket. That’s why it’s important to hire a CDL ticket lawyer that will help protect your livelihood.
ALCOHOL-RELATED VIOLATIONS WITH A CDL IN TEXAS
The things you do in your personal vehicle affect your eligibility for a commercial license. Alcohol and CDLs don’t mix. You could face a one-year, three-year or lifetime suspension of your license for an alcohol-related offense. For CDL purposes, you’re legally over the limit of intoxication if you test .04 or higher.
If you are convicted of driving while intoxicated, that’s an automatic one-year suspension of your commercial driver’s license. There’s no occupational CDL so you’ll be out of work on commercial rig for at least a year.
If you are convicted a second time, you will lose your CDL for life. If convicted of a DWI while driving hazardous chemicals, you will lose your license for 3 years on the first offense and lifetime on the second.
Your CDL suspension is in addition to the criminal misdemeanor punishment and fines you will have on your record associated with a DWI in Texas.
WHAT ABOUT DRUG CONVICTIONS?
Here’s a shocker: if you are convicted of a felony involving the manufacturing, distributing or dispensing of a controlled substance while using a vehicle, you’re going to lose your CDL for a year, even if the allegation does not involve your commercial vehicle! DWIs involving marijuana are commonplace here in Texas. If you get convicted of a DWI involving cannabis, the same rules apply as if you were drunk behind the wheel.
CDL REINSTATEMENT REQUIREMENTS
No reinstatement requirements exist for CDL drivers disqualified due to two or more serious traffic offenses. Those CDLs are automatically reinstated after the required disqualification period if the driver does not have any other actions against her driving record.
If you are disqualified for life, technically, you can apply for a CDL after 10 years and completion of a rehabilitation program approved by Texas DPS. Reinstatement for those individuals is granted under limited circumstances.
WHAT DO I DO IF I HAVE A CDL AND GET CHARGED WITH A TICKET/CRIME?
If you’re facing any of these charges – from a traffic ticket to a drug felony – hire Attorney Alexandria Serra who knows your options and is willing to fight for your livelihood.
FOR MORE INFORMATION, VISIT THE TEXAS DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC SAFETY:
OR CHECK OUT THE TRANSPORTATION CODE, TITLE 7, CHAPTER 522: