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A commercial driver’s license (CDL) allows you to drive a commercial motor vehicle (CMV). Some offenses can disqualify you from holding a CDL for a certain length of time. Before you start your trucking career, it’s important to be aware of these CDL disqualifications.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) outlines several major offenses that result in longer lengths of disqualification.

For these offenses, the disqualification will last one year for the first offense. If you were transporting hazardous materials (hazmat) in a CMV at the time, it would last three years. After a second offense, it is a lifetime disqualification with the possibility of reinstatement after 10 years. If there is a third offense after a reinstatement, the CDL cannot be reinstated.


Commercial drivers have a legal limit for blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.04. The limit for non-commercial vehicles varies in different states. The disqualification applies whether the DUI occurs while operating a CMV or while driving a personal vehicle.

If you refuse a BAC test during a DUI stop, you will face a CDL suspension. There may be additional legal consequences depending on the state where the stop occurs.

You are legally obligated to remain at the scene of an accident, whether you were at fault or not, until you have provided all necessary information to law enforcement officers. If you fail to do so, you will face a CDL suspension as well as other possible legal consequences.

If you drive with a disqualified commercial license, it will extend your suspension.

You will be temporarily disqualified from holding a CDL if you cause a fatality through the negligent operation of a CMV. Depending on the circumstances, there may be other civil and legal penalties as well.

Any of the following will result in a disqualification of 60 days if you get two convictions in a three-year period, or 120 days for third

Excessive speeding
Reckless driving (defined by state or local law)
Erratic or improper lane changes
Failing to leave space to drive through the crossing without stopping
Driving a CMV without a commercial learner’s permit (CLP) or CDL, or without having proof of licensure
Texting while driving a CMV

If your vehicle is placed out of service, you may not operate it until the issue is resolved. If you do so anyway, you will face a fine as well as a disqualification. For the first offense, this can last from 180 days up to one year, or up to two years if you were hauling hazmat. A second conviction lasts 2-5 years for non-hazmat and 3-5 years for hazmat. For third and subsequent convictions with a ten-year period, the disqualification will last 3-5 years for both hazmat and non-hazmat.

Anyone who uses a CMV to commit a felony involving manufacturing, distributing, or dispensing a controlled substance will be disqualified for life from holding a CDL. There is no possibility of reinstatement.