Commercial Driver’s License Suspensions for DWIs
by Fort Worth DWI Lawyer Benson Varghese
A DWI can suspend a regular driver’s license for varying amount of days, but many people wonder if it can also prevent them from getting a Commercial Driver’s License in the future.
What is a Commercial Driver’s License or “CDL” in Texas?
Getting a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) involves several steps, one of which includes having a good driving history. A CDL is designed specifically for individuals who operate a motor vehicle with a gross weight rating of 26,001 pounds, which transports quantities of hazardous materials, or is designed to transport 16 or more passengers including the driver. To ensure an individual is eligible for a CDL, the state will check his/her driving record for the last 10 years in all 50 states. So how will a DWI on a driver’s record affect your eligibility?
When can you get your CDL back after being arrested for a DWI in Texas?
Disqualifications from driving a commercial vehicle after getting a DWI in Texas are governed by Section 522.081 of the Transportation Code. After a first conviction for DWI in Texas, a driver is still eligible to apply for a CDL, but there are limitations on when the person will be qualified to obtain one. The driver’s license suspension due to the DWI has to be lifted before the individual can apply for a CDL. The disqualification period to get a CDL after a DWI conviction is at least one year. It is still up to the company whether or not they choose to hire an individual who has a DWI on their record, even if the individual has legally obtained his/her CDL.
If a CDL holder refuses to provide a specimen of breath or blood after being arrested for DWI, the CDL will be suspended for a period of a year. If the CDL holder had a BAC of a .04 or greater at the time of driving a commercial vehicle, his license will be suspended for a year. If the CDL holder had a BAC of a .08 or greater at the time of driving a non-commercial vehicle, his license will be suspended for a year.
A second DWI conviction has irreversible consequences. Two or more DWI’s disqualify the driver from ever being eligible for a CDL, regardless of if the vehicle used in the incident was a personal or commercial vehicle.
Additionally, if a CDL holder uses a motor vehicle in the commission of certain felony offenses, their license will be disqualified for life.
If you currently hold a CDL and are convicted of a first DWI, in addition to the penalties you will receive under the DWI statute, you will also lose your CDL for a minimum of one year. If convicted for a second DWI, you will lose your CDL for life. This law extends to DWI’s that occurred in other states.
Can I get an occupational license for a commercial vehicle in Texas?
One of the most common questions we get from CDL holders after a DWI arrest is, “Can I get CDL Occupational License?” The answer is that pursuant to Section 522.086 of the Transportation Code, courts are prohibited from granting an occupational license that would allow a person to operate a commercial motor vehicle.