Categories: Blog

CDL Suspensions and Disqualifications

As a truck driver, a CDL disqualification or CDL suspension is one of the worst things that can happen during your career. It can not only burden you and your family financially but can also keep you from progressing in your career. The same goes for new driver hopefuls. If you have been involved in CDL disqualifying offenses, you may have to put your goal of becoming a truck driver on hold. That said, avoiding a suspension/disqualification altogether, or getting your license reinstated should be every commercial driver’s top priority. To best avoid CDL suspensions and disqualifications it is important for CDL holders to understand exactly what disqualifies you from getting a CDL, what felonies disqualify you from getting a CDL, and what you should do in the event you have been involved in a CDL disqualifying offense. That way, you will know how to avoid CDL suspensions and disqualifications, as well as know what steps to take to get your suspended CDL reinstated.

CDL Disqualification and Suspension – What’s the difference?

For starters, it is important to understand the difference between a CDL Disqualification and a CDL Suspension. The main difference between the two is the underlying type of traffic violation or offense you are involved with. As you will see in the list below, some traffic offenses/violations will result in a CDL disqualification, while others will result in a CDL suspension. If your CDL is disqualified, you are still allowed to operate a standard vehicle but not a commercial motor vehicle (CMV). However, if your CDL is suspended, you are not allowed to operate any kind of vehicle.

Although there are many different traffic offenses and violations that can result in a CDL disqualification in California, the following are the most common.

  • Excessive speeding (15+ mph above the speed limit)
  • Improper lane changing
  • Tailgating other vehicles 
  • A traffic violation involving a fatal traffic accident
  • Driving a CMV without a CDL or without having your CDL in possession
  • CDL Class Violation (driving CMV without the proper class of CDL and/or endorsements)

More serious offenses that result in a CDL suspension in California include the following.

  • Reckless driving
  • Being under the influence of alcohol or a controlled substance as prescribed by state law
  • Refusing to take a BAC test
  • Driving a CMV with a suspended or revoked CDL
  • Fleeing the scene of an accident involving a CMV
  • Using a vehicle to commit a felony
  • Accumulating too many points on your driving record within a short period

Your CDL is suspended or disqualified – Now what?

Now for the real question, “What do you do if your CDL is suspended or disqualified?” As you can imagine, there are different steps to take depending on the reason your CDL was disqualified or suspended, but in general, the following is what you will need to do. 

  • Wait for the duration of the suspension/disqualification to run its course. This can take anywhere between 60 days to 3 years. In some cases, you can receive a lifetime disqualification but that is thought of as rare.  
  • Complete one or more remedial driving courses
  • Satisfy any court requirements and fines given to you
  • File and maintain SR22 insurance for 3-5 years on non-compliance suspensions
  • Pay reinstatement fees in full
  • Retake and pass the commercial driving knowledge and skills tests
  • If your license class was downgraded or your license has expired for more than 6 months during the suspension, you will also be required to retake CDL knowledge and skills tests 

Can you appeal a suspension or disqualification?

Depending on what state you are in, a CDL suspension or disqualification can potentially be appealed through the court in which the traffic violation/offense occurred. However, we do recommend that CDL holders attempting to appeal a CDL disqualification or suspension contact a traffic ticket attorney that has experience helping commercial drivers. That way they can help you evaluate the evidence of the case and develop a strong strategy to help get your CDL reinstated.

Now that you know a little more about what disqualifies you from getting a CDL, and what felonies disqualify you from getting a CDL, hopefully you are better equipped to avoid these offenses and never have to deal with this kind of situation. However, if you end up finding yourself in a bad spot, now you will know what you should do if you are involved in a CDL disqualifying offense. Due to the seriousness of these offenses, we always recommend seeking legal counsel if able. Although there is no good or easy way to deal with a CDL disqualification and CDL suspension, they will be able to help you through the process and hopefully soften the blow.


Brandon Maciel

Recent Posts

Best Trucking Boards & Job Sites for Truck Drivers

The truck driving industry is currently seeing a substantial shortage of drivers due to various…

6 days ago

7 Types of Truck Driving Jobs

If you’re just starting out in the trucking industry, you may be unsure of which…

2 weeks ago

Defensive Driving Techniques for Truck Drivers

Operating large trucks can lead to fundamental safety challenges. Even the most experienced drivers must…

1 month ago

Truck Maintenance Checklist: Common Tips for Trucks and Fleets

When working with a fleet of commercial trucks, vehicle downtime can come at a heavy…

1 month ago

Differences Between Interstate vs Intrastate Trucking

What is the Difference Between Interstate and Intrastate Trucking Understanding the differences between "Interstate" and…

2 months ago

Truck Driver Security Basics

If you’re new to trucking and you’re just getting started out on the road, there…

2 months ago