Violations and Criminal Convictions That Can Lead to CDL Revocation

How certain traffic violations and criminal offenses can result in loss of a commercial driver’s license.

To lawfully operate a commercial motor vehicle (CMV), you generally need to have a commercial driver's license (CDL). And the rules of the road that apply to CDL holders are stricter than those that apply to most other drivers. Commercial drivers may face CDL revocation for a number of traffic violations and criminal convictions.

"Serious Violations" and CDL Revocation

Certain traffic violations are categorized as "serious violations" for commercial drivers. Commercial drivers who get two serious violations within a three-year period face a minimum 60-day CDL revocation. A third or subsequent serious violation within three years will result in a minimum 120-day CDL revocation.

Generally, serious violations include:

These offenses are defined as serious violations under federal law. However, some states have a longer list of serious violations.

"Major Violations" and CDL Revocation

With "major violations," it only takes one to lose CDL privileges. A first major offense will lead to a one-year CDL revocation (a three-year revocation if the offense occurs in a hazmat vehicle). Commercial drivers who are convicted of a second major offense face lifetime CDL revocation, though reinstatement is typically possible after ten years.

Generally, major offenses include:

As with serious violations, some states have more major violations than those listed above.

Suspensions Unrelated to Serious and Major CDL Violations

Whenever a CDL holder's normal driving privileges are revoked or suspended, CDL privileges go along with them. So, if a commercial driver does something—even if it's not related to a serious or major violation—that results in license suspension, he or she won't be able to operate a CMV either.

Point suspensions are one way a commercial driver can lose driving privileges. Most states have traffic violation point systems. Drivers who accumulate too many points—which come from traffic violation convictions—face license suspension. License suspension is also a possibility for certain single traffic violation convictions. For instance, in Oregon and California, being caught driving 100 miles per hour or more can lead to license suspension.

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