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Top Reasons Why A Commercial Truck Driver's License Is Disqualified

Christine O'Kelly
Aug 13, 2008
A commercial truck driver of an 18-wheeler truck is required to have a Class A Commercial Driver's License (CDL) in order to operate their vehicle. The truck is considered a Commercial Motor Vehicle (CMV) and falls under the federal Commercial Motor Vehicle Safety Act of 1986. This act allows individual states to issue truck driver's licenses with their own unique criteria -- keeping in mind of course the minimum CMV federal standards for all states.

Truckers do not need to receive a separate federal license in order to operate their vehicles, but all drivers involved in intrastate, interstate or foreign commerce must comply. These requirements are implemented in an effort to help reduce the number of semi truck accidents that happen on our roads today.

Stricter Requirements May Reduce Semi Truck Accidents

The Patriot Act of 2001 included additional requirements for CDL holders who transport hazardous materials. In 2002, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) outlined further guidelines that commercial truck drivers must follow in order to avoid disqualification. This action was taken not only for terrorist threats but to help reduce the number of semi truck accidents.

There are literally millions of drivers who have qualified for a CDL, and thousands of them have been disqualified from driving large commercial vehicles. The reasons behind these disqualifications are varied. In Texas, for example, truck drivers face disqualification for a year after one conviction or up to life after two convictions for:

- Leaving the scene of an accident
- Committing a felony while using a vehicle
- Causing a fatality by negligent operation of a commercial vehicle
- Being under the influence of alcohol or other drugs
- Refusing an alcohol test

Also in Texas, a CDL can be disqualified for 60-120 days based on two or more convictions for serious traffic violations in any type of vehicle within a three-year period. Such convictions include:

- Violating a traffic control law in connection with a fatal accident
- Tailgating or following another vehicle too closely
- Speeding more than 15 mph over the posted limit
- Improper lane changes or otherwise erratic driving

Trucks With Hazardous Material Receive Additional Restrictions

Due to the high stakes involved with a semi truck accident involving hazardous material, drivers must have an additional HazMat Endorsement, or HME. Commercial truck drivers transporting hazardous materials must pass a security threat assessment to receive their HME. The HME also is subject to disqualification, but based on different criteria.

Permanent HME disqualification can be a direct result of treason, sedition, terrorism and the improper transportation of hazardous materials. Interim HME disqualification results from truck drivers being convicted of robbery, immigration violations, arson and smuggling.

Conviction In One State Is Enough

A driver convicted in a semi truck accident out-of-state is treated the same as a conviction for violations in the home state. Thus, a driver can be disqualified in his or her home state based on convictions elsewhere.

A lifetime disqualification can be reduced to a minimum 10-year disqualification period, however, if the driver finishes a state-approved driver rehabilitation program.

Drivers who have been disqualified from driving a CMV cannot be issued a "hardship" or "conditional" CDL or any other form of limited driver's license allowing them to continue to drive a CMV. A driver who's been disqualified from having a CMV license, however, may be issued a license to operate non-CMVs.
About the Author
Christine O'Kelly is an author for 18-Wheeler Accident.org , an organization of legal representatives specializing in helping clients that have been involved in semi truck accidents .
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