What Can Cause You to Lose Your CDL? Be Safe, Not Sorry

The loss of a CDL can be a devastating catastrophe. Learn what to avoid and how to keep your CDL and career intact with ABCO.


January 20, 2023
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What can cause you to lose your CDL? There are a plethora of reasons that can cause this unfortunate event. Things such as breaking the law through traffic violations, among other reasons, can lead to losing a CDL license.

Failing to renew a commercial driver’s license (CDL) or violating established regulations set by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) along with the state-level departments of transportation will cause you to lose your CDL. The Motor Carrier Management System (MCMIS) keeps a record of your driving history.

Losing your CDL can be career-breaking. Learn what can contribute to the loss of a CDL and how to avoid this.

What Can Cause You to Lose Your CDL? FMCSA CDL Requirements

The commercial driver’s license (CDL) program is regulated on a federal level through the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). The CDL Compliance Division of the FMCSA is responsible for ensuring statewide compliance with federal regulations.

The states themselves are responsible for carrying out the federal regulations set by the FMCSA. However, each state in the union may or may not have additional licensing and certification requirements.

In the state of Florida for example, licensing is awarded and regulated by the Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV) department. The issuance of a CDL along with any special endorsements that may be required is handled on the individual state level.

There are other departments and agencies in the United States that have an influence on a CDL and its requirements. It is critically important to understand who has jurisdiction and where they have it at all times.

Additional Federal Regulatory Departments and Agencies

Truck drivers operate all over the U.S. and often cross the border into Mexico and Canada if operating near those areas. Rather than have different regulations for in-state or multi-state CDLs, there are a number of higher authorities that can step in as needed. 

On a federal level, these agencies include:

  • Department of Transportation (DOT): The ultimate body for the governance of vehicular transportation, both personal and commercial. The DOT is the ruling body regarding the roads and highways of America.
  • Federal Highway Administration (FHWA): This department within the DOT concentrates its efforts on road safety, commerce, and infrastructure. The FHW works closely with the various states to ensure continuity and compliance.
  • Environmental Protection Agency (EPA): The EPA safeguards the environment and health of all U.S. citizens. CDL drivers are required to comply with EPA guidelines, especially when transporting hazardous materials.

These additional agencies all play a part in the regulatory measures associated with holding a clean CDL. Failing to adhere to regulations set by these departments and agencies on the federal or even the state level can cause you to lose your CDL.

Operating a commercial vehicle demands high standards and a vast skill set. It is best to keep yourself up to date with the various rules and regulations created for CDL drivers in your state. Taking the time to review the complete overview from the FMCSA regarding CDL policy is a good habit to develop to avoid missing changes.

Although most states will honor the CDL of a driver from another state, special endorsement certifications are generally required in some states. It is also worth noting that you cannot carry a CDL for more than one state.

Check out our article on truck driver rules and regulations to learn about other responsibilities you’ll have as trucker.

speeding tickets with a cdl cop car

Speeding Tickets With a CDL

Driving commercial vehicles is a massive responsibility. Operating large machinery with a towed trailer can spell disaster if you are not careful or responsible. Driving at or under the posted speed limit is not a suggestion – it’s the law.

Getting speeding tickets with a CDL is a surefire way to lose your license. If a court finds you guilty of exceeding posted speed limits there can be serious consequences involved. Ultimately, if you are not careful, you will lose your CDL.

Under the FMCSA, operating a vehicle with a CDL while exceeding 15 mph or more over the posted speed limit will result in a major violation. Additional violations surrounding excessive speeds will have additional repercussions.

Committing additional speeding violations will result in the following:

  • More than two occurrences of speeding violations will result in a disqualification of your CDL for a period of two months within a 12-month window.
  • Additional speeding tickets within a period of three years will result in losing your CDL for four months.

Since commercial drivers are held to a higher standard, there are other negatives to speeding with a CDL:

  • There is no option for a traffic school like there is for a private license in an effort to reduce points and keep your record hidden from the eye of the public.
  • Under the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) 49 part 383.31, a driver is required to provide their employer notice of a speeding violation within 30 days of the incident.
  • Although you can appeal a traffic violation, you are still required to notify your employer. If you are not employed at the time then you will defer to your state agency.

Can a speeding ticket affect your CDL? Yes, it will add points on your license known as Compliance, Safety, and Accountability (CSA) points which are multiplicative.

Can you lose your CDL for a speeding ticket? Not from one ticket, but depending on how many and how often, yes you can most certainly lose your CDL.

Enough of these speeding occurrences will lead to a CDL’s suspension and potential termination. Under CFR 49 part 31150 the Pre-Employment Screening Program (PSP), notifies future employers of your driving record. 

This PSP gives employers access to your driving history electronically. The information found within your PSP profile is made available by the FMCSA and is part of a larger collective known as the Motor Carrier Management System (MCMIS).

CDL Reckless Driving: Caution Ahead

Just like a speeding ticket, reckless driving is a serious offense when operating with a CDL. So how does reckless driving affect your CDL? Similar to speeding, reckless driving can result in license suspension. 

Just like speeding violations, reckless driving will result in the following:

  • More than two occurrences of reckless driving within a year will result in a disqualification of your CDL for a period of two months.
  • Additional instances of reckless driving incidents during a three-year period will cost you a four-month suspension period.

Reckless driving leads to tragic outcomes like deadly crashes and fatalities. Ultimately, this type of moving violation is regarded as a felony disqualification regarding getting or keeping a CDL. Properly managing stress can help avoid reckless driving in any event.

The irresponsible operation of a large motor vehicle is taken very seriously by both the FMCSA and your state’s DOT. The level of damage or injury that can come from a large vehicle can be catastrophic, which is why the regulations for CDL drivers are in place.
If you obtain a felony charge from reckless driving or any other related charge, you will lose or be prohibited from maintaining or obtaining your CDL. For those who have special endorsement certifications, a felony reckless driving charge will result in the loss of those additional certifications.

cdl drunk driving

CDL Drunk Driving Laws: The Hard Truth

There are a lot of questions that surround drunk driving charges and CDLs. According to the FMCSA, it is prohibited to consume alcoholic beverages four hours prior to driving a truck with a CDL.

In the event that alcohol was consumed, the legal limit cannot exceed a 0.4% blood alcohol level. This restriction does not just revolve around driving the vehicle but also other operations involving a driver’s attention.

Across the various states, the laws surrounding DUI convictions are almost identical. Typically, there are several factors that can lead to a DUI conviction regardless of which state you are operating in at the time of conviction.

Some questions to ask regarding a CDL and drunk driving

  1. Can you lose your CDL for an open container?
    1. An open container of alcohol citation and conviction will automatically appear on your MCMIS profile and in your PSP for any potential jobs you take on in the future.
  2. Do you lose your CDL if you get a DUI?
    1. Yes, your CDL will be suspended immediately for a year unless you challenge and beat the case in court.
  3. Can you keep your CDL with a DUI?
    1. After the one-year suspension period or a successful appeal has been granted and won, then your CDL will be active once again.
  4. How long do you lose your CDL for DUI?
    1. You will lose your CDL for the period of one year and up to a maximum of three years if hazmat materials were being transported at the time of the arrest. Further infractions can lead to a permanent loss of a CDL.

Drunk driving is a serious offense, regardless of whether t it’s private or commercial driving. However, the rules are far more strict and the consequences more severe when it comes to alcohol and commercial driving.

The whole idea of drunk driving is terrifying enough on its own. When you add the variables of a truck with a loaded trailer, an accident will be extremely severe. That is why the laws surrounding a DUI are substantially tougher on truck drivers.

Sleep Apnea and CDL: What to Know

The FMCSA funded a study through the University of Pennsylvania to determine the effects of sleep apnea and over-the-road commercial truck driving. The researchers at Penn found that nearly 28% of all registered truck drivers with a CDL have sleep apnea conditions.

Some relevant questions surrounding sleep apnea and truck driving

Can you have a CDL with sleep apnea? Yes, you can hold a CDL even if you have sleep apnea. The FMCSA does not have specific regulations surrounding sleep apnea by name. However, you will be declared medically unfit to drive if it goes without treatment.

Can you lose your CDL if you have sleep apnea? You can potentially lose or have your CDL suspended if you are affected by sleep apnea. However, once you’re seen by a physician and are successfully treated you can regain it. 

It is essential that you provide notification of your condition to the carrier you work for or a carrier that you applied with for work. Operating heavy equipment with a chronic condition like sleep apnea, no matter the severity level is a risk to yourself and those around you.

A medical professional can and will treat your condition. Once treatment is ongoing or concluded, a medical provider can sign off on your fitness level regarding driving a commercial motor vehicle (CMV) and your employer can be notified as such and make a determination if you can drive.

Other Serious CDL Traffic Violations: Things to Avoid

There are other serious CDL traffic violations to consider when thinking about ways you could lose your CDL. As it was mentioned beforehand, operating a CMV has more responsibility attached to it and a commitment level to safety that is unshakable.

Some areas where your CDL can be in jeopardy of suspension or permanent loss include:

  • Transporting drugs
  • Driving under DUI suspension
  • DUI vehicular homicide
  • Driving without your CDL
  • Driving with a revoked CDL
  • Leaving the scene of an accident
  • Connection with a felony or crime
  • Refusal of a roadside sobriety test

There are even offenses so severe that they automatically will cause a lifetime loss of your CDL. If you are involved in human trafficking of any kind or transport drugs or other controlled substances, this will also lead to a permanent ban on obtaining or keeping your CDL.

At this point, it is blatantly obvious that you can lose your CDL in a number of ways both short and long-term. Losing a CDL to any of the traffic offenses listed can be a serious problem that will have lasting effects on your career.

maintain a CDL

How to Maintain a CDL License: The Smart Play

 It takes hard work and dedication to be an over-the-road commercial truck driver and a lot of personal sacrifices. Keeping a CDL in good standing though, is not a monumental task, in fact, it’s actually a snap.

Take these six simple steps to keep your CDL intact.

  1. Medical Clearance: A DOT-certified physician will need to approve you for driving.
  2. Good eating routine: Keeping yourself properly fed will help you stay healthy as a truck driver.
  3. Plenty of sleep: A good sleeping regimen will help keep you alert.
  4. Maintain a clean record: A clean driving record will keep doors open and your CDL intact.
  5. On-time renewals: Avoid expiration through the on-time renewal of your CDL.
  6. Law enforcement: Obey all traffic laws and implement best practices for road safety.

Getting your commercial driver’s license is a big deal, and keeping it is an even bigger one. Follow these six simple steps and keep your license in your pocket and your career in front of you.

Drive by the Book With ABCO and Keep Your CDL Intact

At ABCO, we want what’s best for our drivers and their families. Our commitment to focusing on our employees while offering the latest and best resources available is what sets us apart from the competition.

Our compensation package sets the bar in the truck driving industry. With a hard commitment from management and our support teams, you will never be left out in the cold. An exciting career is just a call or click away.
ABCO offers a host of other benefits for our drivers. Call us today at (866) 980-2710, and get your career as a CDL driver on the road. ABCO is ready to change your life forever all it takes is you.

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