A commercial driver’s license (CDL) is required if you operate certain types of vehicles over a certain gross weight. This typically includes tow trucks, tractor trailers, and buses. The primary reason a person obtains a CDL is for employment purposes. Because operating a tow truck, bus, or other heavy vehicle is a career choice, losing the license means losing your ability to adequately support yourself and your family—which can be devastating.
In 2005, the law covering suspension of a commercial driver’s license increased its penalties to include CDL suspension even if your conviction involved only your personal vehicle. This is a very stiff penalty considering that your CDL will be automatically suspended if you are convicted of any drinking and driving offense, which includes operating while impaired (OWI) or refusing a breath test. If it is your first offense, your CDL will be suspended for one year. However, if it is your second or third offense your license will be revoked for a minimum of ten years.
The difference between a suspension and revocation is huge and worth mentioning. A suspension means that after the year suspension is over, your commercial vehicle license will be automatically returned to you. A revocation means that your CDL is taken away completely and the only way to get it back is to reapply and go through the entire application process like you did the first time.
Remember, these penalties apply whether the offense is committed while driving your commercial vehicle or your personal vehicle. This really raises a CDL holder’s responsibility when it comes to driving. The license suspension is mandatory and you will want an experienced and aggressive attorney advocating on your behalf immediately to get the charge dismissed or reduced to something that will not affect your CDL.
Dealing with a drinking and driving offense is stressful enough, adding the loss of your commercial vehicle license to the picture can be overwhelming. Getting that drunk driving offense reduced to a non-drinking offense is crucial if you want to keep your commercial driver’s license and your livelihood. Negotiating a plea to reckless or careless driving could mean the difference between maintaining your career and having to start all over. Although receiving a reckless driving offense while using your commercial vehicle will still result in a one-year suspension of your CDL, if you were using your personal vehicle when the offense was committed, your CDL will only be suspended for 90 days. This is something you will really want to fight for especially if you rely on your CDL to make your living.