Can I Get a CDL with a DUI? Your Questions Answered

“Can I Get a CDL with a DUI?” That is the question many people ask when considering joining the growing industry of truck driving. The good news is that a DUI does not necessarily mean you are banned from ever getting your commercial driver’s license. The bad news is that it may take some time and extra steps to prove your responsibility behind the wheel. Carriers have differing policies when it comes to hiring those who have been convicted of driving-related felonies, and it largely depends on how long it has been since you received that DUI. If you are asking “Can I get a CDL with a DUI?” keep on reading.

Can I Get a CDL with a DUI?

The short answer is yes. The long answer is a bit more complicated. 

Truck drivers are held to higher standards than the average driver, especially when it comes to driving under the influence. Truck drivers carry large loads of cargo across state lines in complex vehicles and must drive in accordance with the law at all times. Many truck drivers haul large equipment or hazardous materials across long distances, and all are responsible for the safety of other drivers as well as themselves during this time. Standards set by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) make sure that those who have a DUI on record are thoroughly checked and trained before being permitted to engage in this high-risk work.  

Depending on the severity, a DUI conviction may have resulted in your license being taken away or your driving privileges suspended. Even after these necessities are reinstated, some drivers may be required to obtain an SR-22 form, aka a safety responsibility form, from their insurance to test for the CDL. An SR-22 is a certificate of financial responsibility that serves as proof of insurance for high-risk insurance policies. It’s essential to reinstate your driving privileges after a DUI or other serious moving violation.

It is also possible to lose your CDL once you get it. Disqualification can occur in many ways, including but not limited to driving a commercial motor vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration of over .04. In many states, a second DUI or other major violation, such as leaving the scene of an accident, will result in a lifetime disqualification for the CDL.

How Long Do I Have to Wait to Get my CDL?

The wait time to test for the CDL after a DUI will vary depending on the driver’s state. To not be disqualified from the CDL test, most states require that the testee have no active driver’s license suspension or revocation of any kind. Even after you receive your CDL, some employers will require anywhere from 3-7 years between the time of application and the DUI, so keep this in mind when applying for jobs. 

What are the Requirements for the CDL Test?

There are several requirements for those seeking their CDL. Those hoping to test for their license must be prepared to prove all of the following:

1. Age

Drivers must be 21 or over to operate across state lines and haul dangerous materials. Drivers under 21 are restricted to local and in-state driving jobs.

2. Experience 

If you are applying for a driving job, you must have experience in the driver’s seat. The CDL test requires a minimum of 1-2 years of driving experience and a valid non-commercial driver’s license at the time of testing.

3. Citizenship

Drivers must provide proof of American citizenship or lawful permanent residency. Usually, copies of legal documents are enough proof. These can include your Social Security card, birth certificates, or a green card. Your CDL test will provide any additional specifications you will need. 

4. Meet Physical and Medical Requirements

Drivers must have the physical abilities to perform the various tasks associated with commercial driving, no matter what materials they transport. Many jobs require heavy lifting, unloading cargo, getting in and out of the truck multiple times a day, and various maintenance tasks around the rig.  You may need your vision tested to ensure you meet the 20/40 vision requirements, with or without corrective lenses. Mental health and drug screenings may be involved as well. 

5. Pass Background Check

For those with DUIs, this can be the most difficult part of the process. A background check looks through your driving and criminal records to ensure you are legally allowed to drive. This is where any DUIs will show up. On many test questionnaires, test takers are asked if they have any driving or car-related criminal charges. Those with DUIs must be honest about their record. Even if the charge happened 10-20 years ago, these charges will be visible during a background check. 

Unreported violations can result in an automatic disqualification from the test, so avoid the temptation to make yourself look better on paper. Fully disclosing these charges before the test shows that you take responsibility for your mistakes and will improve your chances of employment. 

What Companies Will Hire Me?

Every carrier has a different policy about hiring drivers with a DUI on their record. Some companies will hire these drivers after a certain number of years past the DUI date. Of course, some employers forgo hiring drivers with DUIs completely, if your dream carrier has these policies, make sure to adjust your expectations. Carriers operate how their company policy and state laws permit, but drivers with DUIs should not be discouraged. There are comprehensive lists made for drivers by drivers that lay out major carriers’ DUI hiring policies, and company representatives are always available to answer potential employees’ questions 

DUI? No Problem. Call on TDI.

If you are interested in earning your CDL with a DUI on your record, Truck Driver Institute is one of the most reliable resources to get the training and employment opportunities you need. Truck driving brings people together from all walks of life, and TDI has extensive experience helping drivers of all backgrounds earn their CDL. Our extensive 3-week training program provides fully comprehensive truck driving safety training both in the classroom and on the road. 

Our 11 locations in 7 different states ensure that no matter where you live, you have the chance to get the training you need. Most of our graduates are accepted to carriers before graduation, and with our career placement services, we streamline the process of finding employers who accept drivers with DUIs. While getting your CDL with a DUI is challenging, TDI is ready and willing to work with you to jumpstart your new career path. Got questions about other DUI policies? Contact us today!

Get Started

Get your Class A CDL in our friendly, supportive CDL training program. TRAIN with experienced instructors – multiple good-paying, secure job choices with benefits available for eligible graduates. EARN $700 – $1000+ / week to start as a truck driver. Get started today by filling out the form below. We look forward to hearing from you!