Can a traffic offense result in CDL disqualification? How does a DUI, implied consent violation, or other traffic conviction affect your CDL (commercial driver’s license)?
In many cases, your CDL may be suspended (disqualified) for first offense “major” offenses and even for minor second offense traffic violations. This means that, if you have a CDL, you should fight any of the traffic offenses listed below, and settle for nothing but a dismissal, trial, or alternative that will not affect your CDL.
If you have a CDL, don’t want to lose your ability to work, and have been charged with any of the offenses discussed below, contact a criminal defense/ traffic offense lawyer immediately to find out what your options are.
Below, we will go over the various traffic violations and other offenses that can affect your CDL, including:
- Major offenses that can disqualify you for life,
- Serious offenses that carry 60-120 day suspensions,
- Other types of CDL disqualifications, and
- How to get your CDL reinstated if you have a “lifetime” disqualification.
Regulations on CDL Disqualification for Traffic Convictions
49 CFR § 383.51 lists the offenses for which a person’s CDL will be suspended (disqualified) and the length of the suspension which can range from 60 days for some “serious” offenses to lifetime disqualification for some “major” offenses.
CDL Disqualification for Major Offenses
Convictions for “major” offenses can result in CDL suspension for as little as one year or for life, depending on the offense, whether it is a first offense or greater, and whether the driver was transporting hazardous materials at the time of the violation.
- A second conviction does not mean a second conviction for the same offense – two or more convictions for any major offense will count provided they were separate incidents.
- In many cases, your CDL can be suspended even if you are not driving a CMV (Commercial Motor Vehicle) at the time of the offense.
- Your CDL can be suspended for refusing a breathalyzer, even if you are driving your personal vehicle.
|Conviction (or implied consent refusal)||1st Offense While Operating a CMV||1st Offense While Operating a Non-CMV||1st Offense While Operating a CMV transporting hazardous materials||2nd Offense While Operating a CMV||2nd Offense While Operating a Non-CMV|
|Under the influence of alcohol||One year||One year||Three years||Life||Life|
|Under the influence of a controlled substance||One year||One year||Three years||Life||Life|
|Having an alcohol concentration of greater than .04 while operating a CMV||One year||N/A||Three years||Life||N/A|
|Refusing an alcohol test under implied consent laws||One year||One year||Three years||Life||Life|
|Leaving the scene of an accident||One year||One year||Three years||Life||Life|
|Using a vehicle to commit a felony||One year||One year||Three years||Life||Life|
|Driving a CMV when your CDL is revoked, suspended, canceled, or you have been disqualified||One year||N/A||Three years||Life||N/A|
|Causing a fatality through negligent operation of a CMV (for example, vehicular manslaughter)||One year||N/A||Three years||Life||N/A|
|Using a vehicle in the commission of a felony involving manufacturing or distribution of a controlled substance||Life with no possibility of reinstatement||Life with no possibility of reinstatement||Life with no possibility of reinstatement||Life with no possibility of reinstatement||Life with no possibility of reinstatement|
|Using a CMV in the commission of a felony involving human trafficking as defined in 22 U.S.C. § 7102(11)||Life with no possibility of reinstatement||N/A||Life with no possibility of reinstatement||Life with no possibility of reinstatement||N/A|
CDL Disqualification for Serious Offenses
Your CDL can also be suspended when you are convicted for a second or third “serious” offense within three years. Although there is no disqualification for a first serious offense, you should fight any traffic offense that would qualify because the next one will result in a CDL suspension.
- Some minor traffic offenses are categorized as “serious” offenses in the CFR.
- Serious offenses will affect your CDL only if 1) you were driving a CMV at the time of the offense, or 2) you were driving a non-CMV and the offense resulted in a license suspension, revocation, or cancellation.
- If you are charged with driving a CMV without your CDL in possession, you can avoid the CDL suspension if you provide “proof to the enforcement authority that issued the citation, by the date the individual must appear in court or pay any fine for such a violation, that the individual held a valid CLP or CDL on the date the citation was issued.”
|Conviction||2nd Offense Within Three years While Operating a CMV||2nd Offense Within Three years While Operating a Non-CMV if the offense results in a license suspension||3rd Offense Within Three years While Operating a CMV||3rd Offense Within Three years While Operating a Non-CMV if the offense results in a license suspension|
|Speeding 15mph or greater above limit||60 days||60 days||120 days||120 days|
|Reckless driving||60 days||60 days||120 days||120 days|
|Improper lane change||60 days||60 days||120 days||120 days|
|Following too closely||60 days||60 days||120 days||120 days|
|Any traffic offense in connection with a fatal accident||60 days||60 days||120 days||120 days|
|Driving a CMV without a valid CDL or CLP||60 days||N/A||120 days||N/A|
|Driving a CMV without a CDL in possession||60 days||N/A||120 days||N/A|
|Driving a CMV without proper endorsements for vehicle type, passengers, or cargo||60 days||N/A||120 days||N/A|
|Texting while driving a CMV||60 days||N/A||120 days||N/A|
|Use of a hand-held phone while driving a CMV||60 days||N/A||120 days||N/A|
Other Grounds for CDL Disqualification
Your CDL can also be suspended for:
- Failing to Surrender HAZMAT Endorsement,
- Falsifying an Offense,
- Imminent Hazard Disqualification,
- Railroad-Highway Grade Crossing Offenses, and
- Violation of Out-of-Service Orders.
CDL Reinstatement After Lifetime Disqualification
The “lifetime disqualification” for major offenses like DUI or implied consent violations, leaving the scene of an accident, using a vehicle to commit a felony (not drug distribution), driving a CMV while your CDL is suspended, or causing a fatality through negligent operation of a CMV, is not necessarily for life…
After ten years, a driver’s CDL can be reinstated if the driver has “voluntarily entered and successfully completed an appropriate rehabilitation program approved by the State.”
There is no possibility of reinstatement if the driver has been convicted of a second disqualifying offense after their reinstatement, and there is no possibility of reinstatement if the conviction is for a felony connected to drug distribution or human trafficking.
Traffic Ticket Lawyers in Columbia, Lexington, and Myrtle Beach, SC
The Myrtle Beach and Columbia, SC traffic ticket lawyers at the Thompson & Hiller Defense Firm focus exclusively on criminal defense cases in SC. We have obtained dismissals, pre-trial diversion resulting in dismissals, or acquittals following trial in hundreds of criminal cases, and we have a record of proven results.
If you have been charged with a crime in SC or if you think you may be under investigation, call us now at 843-444-6122 or contact us through our website for a free initial consultation to find out if we can help.