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Can You Get a CDL with a DWI?

A Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) is an essential credential for individuals who operate commercial and private motor vehicles as part of their livelihood, such as truck drivers. For those holding a CDL, their license is their livelihood. For these folks, a DWI (Driving While Intoxicated) conviction can impact their CDL status and, therefore, their income.

Can you get a CDL with a DWI? Learn more about the repercussions of a DWI on your CDL and what steps you can take to regain your driving privileges.

DWI and Commercial Driver’s Licenses

You will face severe consequences if you hold a CDL and are convicted of a DWI. The most immediate of these consequences is a one-year CDL revocation. During this period, your ability to drive commercial vehicles will be suspended, which can significantly impact your employment and livelihood. While you may still be eligible for a Limited Driving Privilege (LDP) to operate a private vehicle, commercial driving privileges will not be restored.

It is possible to obtain a CDL, or to reinstate a CDL after the one-year revocation concludes. Strict regulations and restrictions will subjectively impact CDL eligibility. Key points to consider include: 

  • Length of time since the conviction.
  • The facts of the DWI conviction, including if anyone was injured, if the DWI occurred in a private or commercial vehicle, and any other aggravating factors from the arrest.
  • Multiple DWI convictions and other traffic points against the driver’s license.
  • The type of CDL sought, such as hazmat and passenger endorsements, tend to have stricter requirements.
  • Completion of alcohol education and rehabilitation classes.
  • Other employment restrictions.

If you are charged with DWI and have a CDL or expect to seek a CDL someday, you should contact an attorney as soon as possible. 

Driving with a revoked driver’s license

If a Missouri driver’s license is suspended, revoked, or otherwise not eligible for reinstatement, they may still be eligible for a Limited Driving Privilege (LDP) in specific circumstances. However, that is not the case for those with a CDL. With the help of a qualified attorney, you may get your personal license back, but no driver can obtain an LDP to drive a commercial vehicle.

Factors Impacting CDL Eligibility

The process of obtaining or reinstating a CDL after a DWI conviction is not straightforward and depends on several key factors:

a. Length of Time Since Conviction: The amount of time that has passed since your DWI conviction can influence your eligibility for a CDL.

b. DWI Conviction Details: The specific circumstances of your DWI conviction, including whether anyone was injured, whether the DWI occurred in a private or commercial vehicle, and any other aggravating factors, will be taken into account.

c. Multiple DWI Convictions and Traffic Points: If you have multiple DWI convictions or a significant number of traffic points on your license, it can make the process more challenging.

d. CDL Type: The type of CDL you are seeking, especially if it includes endorsements like hazardous materials (hazmat) or passenger endorsements, can have stricter requirements.

e. Completion of Alcohol Education and Rehabilitation: Successfully completing alcohol education and rehabilitation programs can be a positive step toward CDL reinstatement.

f. Other Employment Restrictions: Some employers may have their own policies and restrictions regarding employees with DWI convictions and CDLs.

How to get your CDL reinstated

If you lose your CDL due to a DWI, you must immediately notify your employer on the next business day. Next, you should file the SR22 insurance form and maintain coverage after the end of your suspension, complete the Substance Abuse Traffic Offenders Program, pay court fees and costs, serve assessed punishment, and retake the commercial driving skills and knowledge test. 

Can I expunge a DWI conviction if I have a CDL?

A DWI cannot be expunged from a driver’s record if they have a CDL. Most drivers who are convicted of a first-time misdemeanor DWI can have a DWI expunged or removed from their driving and criminal record after 10 years. A CDL holder cannot remove the conviction from their record. 

When to get help from a lawyer

If you find yourself charged with a DWI and hold a CDL or plan to obtain one in the future, it is imperative to seek legal counsel promptly. An experienced attorney can guide you through the legal process, help you understand your rights, and assist you in making informed decisions about your CDL and driving privileges.

Need help with your license after a DWI? Contact Paladin Law today.


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