One of the most important CDL requirements to follow is being able to pass every drug test you take. You can’t start a new trucking job without first passing an approved drug test, and then you must pass tests at other times during your employment. For example, you’ll be drug tested if you’re ever involved in a fatal car accident, or if you get a ticket after causing an accident that results in injuries or serious vehicle damage.
You’ll also be drug tested if there’s reasonable suspicion that you’re using drugs due to your behavior or speech on the job. And of course, all active truckers are subject to random unannounced drug tests, where you have to report to the testing center without delay to take a test. Depending on the circumstances, you could lose your job and your CDL license if you don’t pass the drug tests you take.
Another way you can lose your CDL is through driving under the influence of alcohol. In fact, CDL requirements are so strict that you can lose the license temporarily even if you drive under the influence in your personal vehicle, not just your commercial truck.
You should note that your CDL could get suspended even if your blood alcohol content (BAC) is under the standard legal limit of 0.08. If it’s 0.04 or higher, your license will probably be suspended for anywhere from a few months to a year for the first offense. If it’s a second or third offense, or if you’re hauling hazardous materials while driving under the influence, you could lose the CDL for a few years or even permanently—ending your career as a truck driver. This is why it’s crucial to know and follow the CDL requirements.
It’s important to be cautious when driving a commercial truck. Not only do you want to drive safely and prevent accidents, but you should also want to avoid getting traffic tickets. For example, the government considers the following traffic offenses as serious violations:
• Excessive speeding, typically 15 miles per hour or more over the speed limit
• Following too closely
• Improper lane changes
• Reckless driving
• Distracted driving
• Driving a commercial vehicle without carrying your CDL
• Traffic violations that lead to a fatality
If you get cited for two of these serious violations within three years, your CDL may be revoked for at least 60 days. Getting a ticket for three of them in three years may lead to your CDL being revoked for 120 days.
There are also major violations that are considered even more serious offenses than the above. Major traffic violations can result in your losing your CDL for at least one year, or three years if you’re hauling hazardous materials. Major violations include the following:
• Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs
• Refusing a chemical test to detect drugs or alcohol
• Leaving the scene of an accident
• Driving a commercial vehicle under a revoked CDL
• Negligently causing a death with your commercial vehicle
• Using a vehicle to commit a felony
In many cases, even if you’re charged with these serious offenses in your own personal car, your CDL may be revoked for a year or more. If you use a commercial truck for transporting controlled substances or human trafficking, your CDL will be revoked for life. Clearly, these CDL requirements should be taken seriously if you want to keep your CDL.
Driving a truck after letting your CDL license lapse is another mistake you should avoid making, as you face the possibility of owing fines and even losing your job. This is why it’s so important to renew your CDL before it expires. To do so, you usually need to complete a new medical exam, show your current CDL, pay any fees, and show proof that you’re in the US legally. As long as you complete these steps before the expiration date of your license, you can ensure you’re following CDL requirements.
Keep in mind that there’s a federal Drug & Alcohol Clearinghouse that keeps track of all drug and alcohol-related tests and issues. This means that if you fail an approved drug and/or alcohol screen this information is reported to the clearinghouse and will lead to the loss of your commercial driving privileges. This will result in your inability to obtain a commercial truck driving job, possibly forever. It is always best to avoid making any mistakes that could lead to suspension or revocation of your CDL.