cdl suspensionA CDL suspension is the last thing any truck driver wants. It leaves a permanent mark on their driving record, leads to increased insurance costs, and there’s a financial loss for not being on the road. That’s why it’s important to know what can lead to a CDL suspension and how to avoid one. Here are the need-to-know facts.  

Difference Between Suspension and Disqualification

A CDL suspension is when a driver isn’t permitted to drive a CMV  (Commercial Motor Vehicle) for a specified amount of time. Suspensions are usually because of offenses, accidents, or traffic violations. The driver is able to hold a CDL again once the designated time is up.  

A CDL disqualification, on the other hand, is when a driver isn’t permitted to drive a CMV because of a qualification issue. This can be a medical reason or not meeting a DOT requirement. The driver can have their CDL reinstated once the issue has been corrected.  

What Offenses Can Lead to a CDL Suspension?

There are a number of offenses that can lead to a CDL suspension. They’re broken into major offenses and traffic violations.  

Major Offenses: 

  • Operating any vehicle under the influence of drugs or alcohol 
  • Refusing to take a sobriety test 
  • Reckless Operation 
  • Leaving the scene of an accident while driving 
  • Operating a CMV with an already suspended CDL
  • Use of the vehicle to commit a felony 

Traffic Violations: 

  • Speeding 15 mph or higher above the posted speed limit  
  • Negligent driving  
  • Tailgating  
  • Traffic offenses that occur with traffic accidents  
  • Operating a vehicle without a CDL (This also means not holding the CDL in your possession while driving or without the correct class of CDL) 

How Long Does a CDL Suspension Last?

cdl suspension

Though suspension periods vary by state, they tend to be harsher than those for class D drivers. This is because the severity of CMV accidents is usually much greater than that of standard vehicles. A CDL suspension can last anywhere from 60 days to a lifetime ban depending on the type and severity of the offense and what number offense this is for the driver.  

A first major offense could mean a suspension from 60 days up to a full year (3 years if you’re carrying hazardous materials). A second major offense, in most cases, will lead to a lifetime suspension.  

For traffic violations, if two are committed within a three-year period, the driver’s CDL will be suspended for 60 days. If three traffic violations are committed within three years, their CDL will be suspended for 120 days. This is much less severe than the periods for major offenses, but these shorter suspensions will still lead to financial penalties in upped insurance premiums, traffic fines, and loss of income. 

What Should Drivers Do While the License is Suspended?

There are a number of options for drivers who still want to remain in the industry while their license is suspended. They can try to find work with their current company in a dispatch or training position. This will still keep the driver in the trucking world while he or she waits for their license to be reinstated.  

If a driver feels that a CDL suspension was given unfairly or in error, he or she can appeal the suspension with the issuing state. The driver is also able to dispute anything on a DAC report, if he or she feels that there is an error or information on it was falsified by a previous employer. 

The important thing to remember is to always err on the side of caution while driving and periodically check your MVR. It’s possible that you could have a suspended or disqualified CDL and not even know about it. This is especially true for OTR drivers who aren’t home to receive mail consistently.  

CDL suspensions are unfortunately a part of life for some drivers. While they can be devastating at the time, it doesn’t always mean the end of your driving career. As a truck driver, driving safely and knowing the rules is your best defense against CDL suspensions.  

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