21 April 2022

Can a Felon Get a CDL?


People from all walks of life can find stable jobs in the trucking industry. However, if you have been convicted of a felony, getting a commercial driver’s license (CDL) and choosing to be a truck driver can be much harder.

Can you get a CDL with a felony?

The short answer is that it depends. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) doesn’t exclude a driver convicted of a felony from operating a commercial motor vehicle (CMV), but there are exceptions.

Whether or not a felon qualifies for a commercial driver’s license relies on the state of residence. Each state has its own rules on CDLs that can disqualify you from eligibility.

What felonies disqualify you from getting a CDL?

For the most part, felonies involving a motor vehicle will prevent you from becoming a CDL driver Here are a few examples:

  • Using a commercial vehicle in the commission of a felony
  • First- or second-degree manslaughter with a motor vehicle
  • Misconduct involving a motor vehicle
  • Causing a fatality because of careless or reckless driving

Other non-vehicular felonies that could disqualify you include:

  • Extortion
  • Bribery
  • Smuggling
  • Arson
  • Treason
  • Assault with intent to murder

Can you get a CDL if you have a DUI?

DUIs are something to consider. Federal law states that you are disqualified from driving a CMV if are caught operating a vehicle with a BAC of .08% or higher. However, if you have had a DUI but currently hold a valid driver’s license, you can qualify for a CDL.

There is no mandatory waiting period to apply. Still, if you had a CDL at the time of your DUI, depending on the state where you live, you must wait a minimum of one to three years before reapplying. Also, you cannot get a CDL if your license is currently suspended because of a DUI.

Can I get a job with a felony?

Getting a CDL license with a felony or DUI is one thing; getting a job as a trucker is another.

Some trucking companies hire convicted felons, but not all. That’s particularly true if you have a DUI on your record that’s less than three years old.

How many felonies you have had is something else to think about. A person with one felony has a better chance of being hired than a repeat felon.

The felony’s age could also have an effect. Some driving schools and carriers will only take you if the felony is at least five years old (and some 10-15 years old). Also, most companies will want to know the type of felony, the number of convictions, and how much time has passed since your conviction.

There are many pros and cons of truck driving, and a felony only adds to the negatives.

However, the good news is that your record doesn’t have to be spotless. If you decide to pursue a truck driving career, keep this advice in mind:

Always be honest

Be up-front in your application. The CDL training school and the carrier will find out about your felony conviction and/or DUI when they request your driving record and do a background check.

Check with your state or local DMV

Don’t let your past determine your future. Check with your state or local DMV to decide whether you qualify to get a CDL.

Meet with a driving school advisor

If choosing to be a truck driver is a decision you want to make, contact The CDL School. One of our friendly advisors can help you enroll in classes and start working toward your CDL today.