Can You Obtain a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) After a DWI?

Can you get a commercial driver’s license (CDL) with a DUI? Find out here from the top-rated DWI defense team at the Missouri DWI & Criminal Law Center.

Kimberly2 1Author:

Kimberly J. Benjamin, Founder & Managing Attorney

November 23. 2021.

Understanding DWI Impacts on CDL Eligibility in Missouri

Understanding the impact of a Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) conviction on your eligibility for a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) in Missouri is critical if you’re planning a career in commercial driving. The consequences for DWI are severe, particularly for CDL holders, and they can dramatically alter your professional trajectory. Key to these consequences are the stringent Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) limits set for drivers:

  • Standard Drivers: The Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) limit is set at 0.08%.
  • CDL Holders: For those with a CDL, the BAC limit is stricter, reduced to 0.04%.

Failing to comply with BAC testing leads to the same penalties as exceeding these limits. For CDL drivers, having a BAC of 0.04% or higher during a traffic stop leads to immediate disqualification of the CDL, affecting your ability to work in commercial driving roles.

For professional guidance through these complex legal areas, turn to the Missouri DWI & Criminal Law Center in Kansas City. Our seasoned defense attorneys understand DWI cases and can provide essential assistance in navigating the ramifications of DWI charges on your professional driving license.

How Long After a DWI Can You Get Your CDL Back?

If you’re interested in professional driving but have a DWI on your record, understanding Missouri’s specific laws regarding the reinstatement of a CDL is crucial. According to Missouri law, the impact of a DWI on your ability to drive commercially varies significantly based on the severity and specifics of the offense.

Initial Suspension Periods:

  • Standard Drivers: Under Missouri Revised Statutes §302.500 to §302.540, a first-time DWI typically results in a 30-day suspension of a regular driver’s license, followed by a 60-day period of restricted driving.
  • CDL Holders: For those holding a CDL, the stakes are higher. Section 302.755 of the Missouri Revised Statutes mandates that your CDL will be suspended for a full year following your first DWI conviction. This is irrespective of whether you were driving a commercial vehicle at the time of the offense.

Additional Penalties for Hazardous Materials:

The penalties escalate if you were transporting hazardous materials at the time of your DWI. In such cases, a first offense results in a three-year suspension of your CDL, as outlined in Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regulations. Further violations can lead to a lifetime disqualification from holding a CDL, essentially ending a professional driving career.

Understanding these guidelines is vital for anyone looking to navigate the complexities of DWI repercussions on commercial driving privileges in Missouri. Whether you’re a new driver or looking to regain your CDL, knowing these laws can help you better prepare for the necessary steps toward reinstatement.

Steps to Reinstating Your CDL After a DWI

Here are the steps you’ll need to follow to reinstate your Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) after a DWI conviction:

  1. Notify Your Employer: You must inform your employer of the suspension before the next business day.
  2. Complete a Rehabilitation Program: Enroll in and complete a program for alcohol and substance abuse.
  3. Pay Fees: You’ll need to pay a reinstatement fee of $45, along with any court or attorney fees related to the conviction.
  4. Obtain SR-22 Insurance: File for this special insurance and maintain it for at least three years after your CDL is reinstated.
  5. Retake the CDL Exams: Successfully pass the commercial driving tests to get your CDL reinstated.

The decision to reinstate a CDL ultimately depends on the judge’s discretion, including any additional requirements they may impose. It’s important to note that you cannot drive any commercial vehicles while your CDL is suspended or revoked. However, you might be eligible to apply for limited driving privileges to operate a personal vehicle during this period.

For detailed guidance and to ensure you meet all legal requirements efficiently, consider consulting with a reputable attorney familiar with Missouri’s DWI laws and CDL regulations, like Missouri DWI & Criminal Law Center.

Fighting DWI Charges for CDL Holders

Protecting your CDL after a DWI is crucial, and the right legal team can help. To defend against DWI charges, you might question the accuracy of blood or urine tests, the fairness of the field sobriety tests, or the legality of the traffic stop itself. Successfully challenging these aspects can lead to reduced charges or even dismissal, significantly lowering the risk of losing your license. 

Potential Penalties for CDL Holders

Understanding the potential penalties is vital in recognizing what’s at stake and informing your defense strategy.

For a First-Time DWI in Missouri:

  • CDL Disqualification: 1 year, consistent with Missouri’s implementation of federal guidelines for CDL holders.
  • Regular Driver’s License Suspension: Typically 30 days, followed by a period of restricted driving.
  • Jail Time: Up to six months, depending on the circumstances of the case and the court’s decision.
  • Fines: Up to $500.
  • Points Added to Driver Record: Two points.
  • Increased Insurance Rates: Common after DWI convictions due to the higher risk associated with insuring the driver.

For Subsequent DWI Offenses:

  • CDL Disqualification: A lifetime ban is possible, particularly after a second offense, in line with federal regulations for CDL holders.
  • Regular Driver’s License Suspension: 60-90 days, varying based on the severity of the offense and prior history.
  • Jail Time: Up to one year.
  • Fines: Up to $1000.
  • Increased Insurance Rates: Typically increase due to the heightened risk profile.

It’s crucial for CDL holders to understand that these penalties can vary based on the specific details of each case and any previous driving offenses. Moreover, Missouri adheres to strict standards for CDL holders to promote safety on public roadways. If a CDL holder is convicted of a DWI while operating any vehicle, commercial or not, the penalties are severe to deter impaired driving and ensure public safety.

Navigating Employment with a DUI

For individuals with a DUI on their record, employment prospects can raise concerns. However, there are strategies to navigate this challenge. Employers often consider factors like the recency of the DUI, job relevance, and demonstrated rehabilitation efforts. Statistics show that job opportunities for individuals with DUIs vary by industry, with certain sectors being more lenient than others.

For instance, jobs in transportation or government may have stricter policies, while fields like technology or creative industries may be more open. Strategies for finding employment include focusing on industries with lower barriers, highlighting relevant skills and experience, obtaining legal advice on expungement or record sealing, and networking to uncover hidden job opportunities.

Taking proactive steps to address employer concerns and showcasing personal growth can significantly improve job prospects despite a DUI history.

Contact Missouri DWI & Criminal Law Center Today

Consulting with a Missouri DWI & Criminal Law Center attorney is essential for understanding and navigating these legal challenges, ensuring your rights and future as a commercial driver are vigorously defended.

Our experienced attorneys are dedicated to helping you protect your livelihood and future as a commercial driver. Whether you’re facing a first-time charge or dealing with subsequent offenses, we provide the legal skill and experience you need to challenge charges, minimize penalties, and work towards reinstating your CDL. Contact us today for a consultation, and let us help you take the necessary steps to safeguard your professional driving career.

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