Whether you’ve completed all the CDL requirements and passed the test, you’re on your way to your first professional trucking job. This is a fantastic achievement that you should be proud of, but it also comes with the responsibility of knowing how to keep the CDL you’ve worked so hard to obtain.

Commercial drivers are frequently subjected to scrutiny. There are several circumstances that could lead to your CDL being suspended or revoked, effectively ending your trucking career. Even if you’re still studying for your CDL, you should be aware of the following issues to avoid making these mistakes that could lead to losing your license.

For you to keep your CDL and continue driving, you must avoid these violations at all costs:

1. Drinking and Driving

Driving while under the influence of alcohol is one way to lose your CDL. In fact, CDL requirements are so stringent that you can lose your license even if you drive drunk in your personal vehicle, not just your commercial truck.

It is important to note that your CDL may be suspended even if your BAC is less than the legal limit of 0.08. If it’s 0.04 or higher, your license will almost certainly be suspended for a few months to a year for the first offense. If it’s your second or third offense, or if you’re driving while intoxicated, you could lose your CDL for a few years or even permanently, effectively ending your career as a truck driver. Therefore, it is critical to understand and adhere to the CDL requirements.

2. Failure to Pass a Drug Test

One of the most important CDL requirements is the ability to pass all drug tests. You cannot begin a new trucking job without first passing an approved drug test, and you must then pass additional tests throughout your employment. For example, if you’re ever involved in a fatal car accident or if you get a ticket for causing an accident that results in injuries or serious vehicle damage, you’ll be drug tested.

You will also be drug tested if there is a reasonable suspicion that you are using drugs based on your work-related behavior or speech. Of course, all active truckers are subject to random unannounced drug tests, for which you must report to the testing center without delay. If you fail the drug tests, you may lose your job and your CDL license, depending on the circumstances.

3. Being Involved in Narcotic Activities

There are few surefire ways to lose your commercial driver’s license than to distribute or manufacture narcotics. If the vehicle is used in such an operation, the driver will lose his or her CDL for good. No bargains for this matter. So, if you want to keep your CDL, avoid getting involved in narcotic activities such as manufacturing or distributing drugs while driving a commercial truck or doing hotshot trucking.

4. Driving with an Expired License

Driving a truck after your CDL license has expired is another mistake you should avoid, as you may face fines and even lose your job. Therefore, it is critical to renew your CDL before it expires. To do so, you usually need to take a new medical exam, show your current CDL, pay any fees, and show proof that you are legally in the United States. If you complete these steps before your license expiration date, you will be following CDL regulations.

5. Getting Traffic Violations

When operating a commercial truck, it is critical to exercise extreme caution. You should not only want to drive safely and avoid accidents, but you should also avoid getting traffic tickets. The government, for example, considers the following traffic offenses to be serious violations:

  • Violations of traffic laws that result in a fatality
  • Driving while distracted
  • Incorrect lane changes
  • Over speeding
  • Reckless driving
  • Tailgating
  • Operating a commercial vehicle without a CDL

If you are cited for two of these serious offenses within three years, your CDL may be suspended for at least 60 days. Getting three in three years may result in your CDL being revoked for 120 days.

There are also major violations that are considered even more serious offenses than the ones listed above. Major traffic violations can result in the loss of your CDL for at least one year, or three years if you’re hauling hazardous materials. The following are examples of serious violations:

  • Driving under the influence (alcohol or drugs)
  • Refusing to submit to a drug or alcohol test
  • Failure to remain at the scene of an accident
  • Operating a commercial vehicle with a revoked CDL
  • Accidentally killing someone with your commercial vehicle
  • Using a motor vehicle to commit a crime

Even if you are charged with these serious offenses while driving your own car, such as the case in hotshot trucking being an owner-operator, your CDL may be revoked for a year or more in many cases. If you use a commercial truck to transport controlled substances or people, your CDL will be suspended for life. These CDL requirements should obviously be taken seriously if you want to keep your CDL.

Conclusion

A suspended license can be fatal for a commercial driver, not only because of the lost time, but also because of his or her driving record. Thus, it is always best to avoid making any mistakes that could result in your CDL being suspended or revoked. Because of liability concerns, companies rarely hire drivers with less-than-perfect driving records. If you are accused of committing traffic violations or a serious offense while operating a commercial vehicle, find a lawyer who has handled cases in that jurisdiction. Fighting the charges may be the only way to avoid having one’s career ruined.