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What Does It Mean When a CDL Is Disqualified Because of a DWI?

If you’re a commercial driver’s license (CDL) holder, a DWI arrest or conviction can seriously affect your livelihood. Your CDL could be disqualified for a certain length of time, or your commercial driving privileges could be permanently removed. Because CDL holders do not qualify for occupational licenses, being subject to these penalties means that you would not be able to operate a commercial vehicle, which could affect your income.

You can challenge the disqualification of your CDL by requesting and attending an Administrative License Revocation (ALR) hearing or fighting your charge in court. An attorney can help develop and present your arguments to assist in seeking to preserve your commercial driving privileges.

At Deandra Grant Law, our Dallas team provides legal representation for court and ALR hearings. Schedule a consultation by contacting us at (214) 225-7117.

What Does CDL Disqualification Mean?

CDL disqualification means that your privileges to operate a commercial vehicle have been removed. The difference between a disqualification for a CDL and a suspension for a non-commercial driver’s license is that with a suspension, a judge may allow limited driving privileges during the suspension period; with a disqualification, such opportunity does not exist.

In a DWI matter, your CDL could be disqualified in two ways. The first is after your arrest. If you refuse a blood or breath test, the officer will take your license and issue a notice of disqualification. If you take the chemical test, you will keep your CDL until the results come back. If the analysis shows that your alcohol concentration was at or above the legal limit, a notice of disqualification will be mailed to you.

The second way your CDL could be disqualified is if you’re convicted of driving while intoxicated. As part of your sentence, the judge will order that your commercial driver’s license be suspended for a certain period of time.

What Is the Disqualification Period for a CDL?

The amount of time you could be without your commercial driving privileges depends on the situation and your history.

Below are the possible disqualification periods:

  • First-time chemical test refusal, failure, or criminal conviction:
    • 1 year
  • First-time chemical test refusal, failure, or criminal conviction if you were transporting hazardous waste:
    • 3 years
  • Second-time chemical test refusal, failure, or criminal conviction:
    • Lifetime

If you’re subject to a lifetime disqualification, you could seek to have your CDL restored after 10 years. You must meet certain criteria to be eligible for reinstatement. Your license will be permanently disqualified if you commit another DWI after getting your CDL privileges back.

A chemical test failure means that you provided a blood or breath sample, and the results indicated that your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) was at or above the legal limit. The legal limit is tied to the type of vehicle you were driving at the time of the alleged DWI. For commercial vehicles, the legal limit is 0.04 or more. For non-commercial vehicles, it is 0.08 or more.

Note that your commercial driving privileges could be disqualified even if you were operating a non-commercial vehicle when you were stopped for DWI.

In cases where a person’s non-commercial CDL is suspended because of a commercial DWI, the individual can apply for an occupational license, allowing them to drive for work, school, or household duties. Unfortunately, an occupational license cannot be granted to CDL holders. If their license is disqualified, they are prohibited from operating a commercial vehicle during the disqualification period.

How Do You Challenge a CDL Disqualification?

Challenging your CDL disqualification requires attending an ALR hearing and/or going through the criminal justice process. The path your case takes depends on whether your privileges are at risk following your arrest or because you are fighting a criminal charge.

The ALR hearing is separate from the criminal proceedings. It isn’t concerned with guilt or innocence of DWI. Instead, it focuses on whether your stop and arrest were lawful or you refused or failed a chemical test.

You must request an ALR hearing within 15 days after the officer gave you the notice of disqualification (if you refused a chemical test) or within 20 days after receiving a mailed notification of disqualification (if you took the chemical test and were waiting on the results). Failing to request a hearing will result in your CDL being disqualified. The sanction goes into effect on the 40th day after you received your notice.

An Administrative Law Judge will hear both sides of the case. If they find that you refused or failed the chemical test, your disqualification will remain. If they decide in your favor, your CDL won’t be disqualified.

The criminal proceedings concern whether you are guilty of driving while intoxicated. Technically, you are not directly challenging the disqualification of your CDL in this process. Instead, you are fighting your criminal charge. If you are not convicted of the offense, you won’t face the criminal penalties that include losing your CDL.

Speak with an Attorney About Your Case

If you’re a CDL holder arrested for or charged with a DWI in Dallas or the surrounding areas, retain the services of a lawyer who can represent you at the ALR hearing and criminal proceedings. At Deandra Grant Law, we have extensive experience providing counsel through all stages of a DWI case.

Get started on your defense by calling us at (214) 225-7117 or submitting an online contact form today.