What Disqualifies a CDL Driver?

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regulations specify certain circumstances that may disqualify a CDL holder from legally operating a commercial motor vehicle, temporarily or permanently. Traffic tickets, driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, and other legal issues that occurred before a driver was issued a commercial driver’s license, or to non-CDL holders, who were not required to have a CDL, will affect drivers only as far as trucking company policy, except for getting the hazardous materials endorsement. Sometimes, the FMCSA may disqualify CDL holders deemed to be an “imminent hazard”, and remove them from the roadway.

Some circumstances may cause a lifetime disqualification from operating a commercial vehicle, with some drivers being eligible for reinstatement after 10 years. A driver who uses a commercial vehicle in the commission of a felony involving distributing, manufacturing, or dispensing a controlled substance will be disqualified for life with no possibility of license reinstatement.

Our Chicago CDL traffic lawyers have represented thousands of CDL holders and trucking companies facing traffic violations in Illinois and we can help you keep your commercial driving privileges. CDL holders are subject to severe driver’s license consequences than regular driver’s license holders. Since traffic tickets issued to commercial driver license holders must be handled delicately, hiring an experienced CDL traffic attorney is essential. If you’re facing a CMV violation, contact our criminal defense law firm today at (708) 465-1040.

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What Disqualifies a CDL Driver?

For a combination of the following offenses, you may be disqualified from holding a commercial driver’s license for at least one year for a 1st offense and life for a 2nd offense:
  • Driving any motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol or a controlled substance (illegal substances)
  • Driving a commercial motor vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.04% or more.
  • Fleeing the accident scene while driving any motor vehicle.
  • Refusing to take blood alcohol testing as required by law while driving any motor vehicle.
  • Using any vehicle, whether passenger vehicle or commercial vehicle to commit a felony
  • Causing a fatality through negligent driving while operating a CMV
  • Driving a commercial motor vehicle when, because of a subsequent conviction committed in a CMV, your commercial driver’s license was suspended, revoked, or canceled.

What Disqualifies a CDL Driver?

If you commit any of the above offenses while you’re operating a commercial vehicle that is placarded for hazardous materials, you’ll lose your CDL for at least 3 years. Also, you’ll lose your CDL for life if you use any motor vehicle to commit a felony involving the distribution, manufacturing, or dispensing of controlled substances.

How Do I Get My CDL Back After a DUI in Illinois?

If your CDL is disqualified because of the conviction of two or more major traffic offenses, you won’t have any reinstatement requirements. Your CDL will be automatically reinstated after the required disqualification period lapses if there aren’t any other enforcement actions against your driving record. CDL holders aren’t eligible to take the driver safety course.

The Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) may reinstate any driver disqualified for life for traffic offenses described below after 10 years if that CDL holder has voluntarily entered and successfully completed an appropriate program approved by the DMV. Traffic offenses not categorized as alcohol or drug-related don’t have an established course requirement; thus, course attendance is not required:

  • Being under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
  • Being under the influence of controlled substances.
  • Having a blood alcohol content of 0.04 or more while operating a commercial vehicle.
  • Refusing to take an alcohol test as stipulated under implied consent law or regulations.
  • Fleeing the accident scene.
  • Using any motor vehicle to commit a felony other than felonies involving distributing, manufacturing, or dispensing controlled substances.
  • Driving a commercial vehicle when, because of subsequent violation committed operating a CMV, the driver’s CDL is revoked, suspended, or canceled, or the driver is disqualified from operating a CMV
  • Causing personal injury through the negligent operation of a commercial vehicle including, but not limited to, the crimes of motor vehicle manslaughter, negligent homicide, or homicide by motor vehicle.

You are ineligible to apply for CDL reinstatement if you have been convicted of a felony involving distributing, manufacturing, or dispensing illegal substances or human trafficking.

Upon receipt of your request for CDL reinstatement, the Illinois Secretary of State will review your driver record for eligibility and you’ll receive a notification of determination by mail or email. If you’re approved for CDL reinstatement, you’ll need to apply as an original CDL applicant at your local driver’s license office.

What Offenses are Classified as Major Traffic Violations?

You’ll lose your commercial driver’s license:
  • For at least 60 days for committing two serious traffic violations within a three-year period.
  • For at least 120 days for committing three serious traffic violations within a three-year period.

Serious traffic violations include:

  • Excessive speeding. Driving 15 miles per hour or above the posted speed limit.
  • Reckless driving or erratic traffic lane changes.
  • Following a motor vehicle too closely.
  • Traffic offenses related to fatal traffic accidents.
  • Driving a CMV without a CDL.
  • Driving a CMV without a commercial driver’s license in your possession.

Related: Will a Ticket Affect Your CDL?

What Motor Vehicles Require CDL in Illinois?

There are three classes of CDLs. Before you get your CDL, you must determine which of the three classes of CDLs is necessary for the type of vehicle you’ll be driving. The three basic classes of CDLs in Illinois include:

  • Class A: These CDL holders can operate any combination of motor vehicles with a gross combination weight rating of 26,001 pounds or more, vehicles towed exceeds 10,000 pounds, or provided the gross vehicle weight rating of the commercial vehicle. These types of commercial vehicles include tanker vehicles, truck and trailer combinations, tractor-trailers, livestock carriers, tractor-trailer buses, and flatbeds.
  • Class B: It allows holders to operate any single commercial vehicle with a GVWR of 26,001 pounds or heavier, and/or any commercial motor vehicle with a GVWR of 26,001 lbs. or more that is towing another motor vehicle weighing up to 10,000 lbs. These types of commercial vehicles include large buses such as tourist, city, and school buses, segmented buses, box trucks such as courier or delivery trucks, straight trucks, and dump trucks with small trailers.
  • Class C: It allows holders to drive any single vehicle or combination of commercial vehicles that isn’t a Class A or B if the vehicle is used in the transportation of hazardous materials as designated by federal regulations, or designed to transport 16 to 23 passengers including the driver. These types of vehicles include small hazardous materials vehicles, passenger vans, and combination commercial vehicles not described in class A or B.

An image of a CDL driver next to a truck

Can I request court supervision?

Although a court supervision sentence might be a favorable sentence for an average driver in Illinois, it’s unacceptable for a CDL holder. For many traffic offenses, the Illinois Secretary of State treats a court supervision sentence like a traffic conviction. Thus, court supervision won’t prevent the disqualification penalties or suspension of your CDL. Also, court supervision won’t prevent the CDL traffic ticket from appearing on your public driving record even if you were driving your personal vehicle at the time of the traffic offense.

Contact Our Experienced Chicago CDL Traffic Ticket Attorneys Today for Legal Advice!

Our Chicago traffic ticket attorneys have represented thousands of commercial truck drivers and trucking companies throughout Illinois including Cook County, DuPage County, Lake County, Kane County, Kendall County, McHenry County, and Will County on a wide range of traffic violations and we can help you keep your CDL.

From drunk driving charges to overweight truck violations, we understand the ever-changing landscape of Illinois law and our criminal defense team will aggressively defend your commercial driving privileges and driving record. Often, we’ll work to get an amendment or reduction to the original traffic ticket or take your traffic case to trial if necessary. Regardless of the details of your, it’s imperative for CDL holders to consult with an experienced CDL driver lawyer for help. To schedule a free initial consultation, contact our Chicago law office today at (708) 465-1040.

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