Commercial vehicles are so much bigger and heavier than passenger vehicles that they can cause catastrophic damage and fatal injuries to the people in the smaller vehicle in the event of a crash. Given that increased risk, it’s no wonder that both the federal government and individual states choose to carefully regulate who can secure and retain a commercial driver’s license CDL.
Working as a commercial driver is difficult, demanding work that often involves long hours, physically and mentally draining tasks, and social isolation. You have to be 21, have a strong driving record and pass a background check. You are also always at risk of making a single mistake that could potentially end your career as a commercial driver.
Whether you obtained it on your own or had employer-sponsored (CDL) lessons, maintaining your commercial license as a semitruck driver is the only way to protect your career and your source of income. Unfortunately, mistakes you make on the job and after work can impact your ongoing eligibility for your CDL.
Certain offenses can make you ineligible for licensing
Part of securing a CDL involves passing a background check. Specific offenses on your record, such as impaired driving or vehicular homicide, may permanently preclude you from obtaining a commercial license.
Even If you experience a collision or get a ticket while in your personal vehicle and not working, some of the mistakes you make could impact your CDL eligibility. Drunk driving charges, for example, could result in the suspension or revocation of both your individual license to operate a passenger vehicle and your professional license to operate a commercial one. The potential career impact of serious tickets or criminal charges is one reason why commercial drivers often fight even minor traffic infractions.
Commercial drivers are subject to stricter regulations in general
On certain roads, particularly freeways and interstates with high speed limits, commercial trucks are often subject to a slightly lower maximum speed than smaller passenger vehicles. They often need to remain in the right-hand lane unless actively passing, merging or exiting.
Additionally, commercial drivers get held to a much stricter standard regarding sobriety. Although most states begin enforcing alcohol-related impairment laws when someone has a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08% or higher, drivers with a commercial license in a commercial vehicle typically face citation with a BAC of 0.04% or higher. You could be perfectly safe to drive and still wind up facing impaired driving charges because of the nature of the vehicle and the license you hold.
In some cases, a driver who loses their CDL due to traffic infractions can eventually regain their licensing. In other scenarios, such as when a commercial driver winds up convicted of vehicular homicide, they may become permanently disqualified from carrying a commercial license.