Commercial driving privileges are closely followed by state and federal agencies. As a result, the rules around why your commercial driver’s license (CDL) and for how long can be suspended are plentiful.
Losing your CDL can be devastating if you rely on it for your occupation. To protect yourself from suspension, be aware of the four main reasons a CDL can be suspended and the duration of each suspension.
1. Major offenses
- Alcohol- and drug-related offenses
- Leaving the scene of an accident
- Using a commercial motor vehicle (CMV) to commit a felony
- Causing a death due to negligent CMV operation
- Operating a CMV without a valid CDL
An alcohol-related offense for a CDL suspension is driving with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.04%. This is lower than the standard legal BAC limit of 0.08%.
The first violation comes with a one-year suspension, or three years if transporting hazardous materials. The suspension is for life on a second offense. DUI offenders could be eligible for a reinstatement after 10 years, but offenders must complete a state-approved alcohol program.
It’s also worth noting that your CDL can be disqualified for a major offense even if you are not operating a CMV at the time. That means two alcohol offenses in your personal vehicle could still lead to a lifetime suspension of your CDL.
2. Serious traffic violations
Illinois classifies serious traffic violations as:
- Excessive speeding
- Reckless driving
- Making improper lane changes
- Following vehicles too closely
- Causing a fatal accident by violating a major vehicle traffic control law (other than a parking violation)
- Operating a CMV without a CDL or one on your person
Your CDL will likely not be suspended upon first violation, but a second offense within three years comes with a suspension for up to 60 days. The third violation in three years is for 120 days.
The only reason you can have your CDL suspended while operating a non-commercial motor vehicle is if the violation would have resulted in a disqualification had you been operating a CMV at the time.
3. Railroad crossing violations
Railroad Highway Grade Crossing (RRHGC) violations include, but are not limited to:
- Failing to slow down and check the railroad tracks are clear
- Failing to stop at required stops
- Driving across the tracks when there is not enough room for the CMV you are operating
The first violation is a minimum of 60 days. The second violation within three years is a minimum of 120 days and the third in three years is a minimum of one year.
4. Out-of-service violations
Out-of-Service Order (OOSO) violations are categorized into Category 1 and Category 2 offenses. Category 1 offenses are for violating an OOSO while transporting hazardous chemicals. The first violation is between 180 days and two years, and the second violation within 10 years is a three- to five-year suspension.
Category 2 offenses are for violating an OOSO while transporting non-hazardous materials. The first violation is a suspension between 180 days and one year. The second violation within 10 years is two to five years, and the third violation is three to five years.
If your CDL is suspended
If you find yourself in violation of the requirements for your CDL and facing suspension, consider seeking legal counsel experienced in driver’s license suspensions and reinstatements who can look at your case and the potential penalties. If you use your CDL for your job, it is a valuable part of your work that an attorney can help you protect.