A Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) is required for anyone that wishes to drive a vehicle weighing over 26,001 or more pounds in Connecticut. Also, a commercial vehicle requiring a CDL includes buses designed for 16 or more passengers, vehicles carrying hazardous materials, and vehicles carrying more than 10 school children to or from school/daycare. While this license is a necessity for anyone in those occupations that have those needs, it is important to understand that the CDL license is a privilege and can be revoked for some criminal convictions or infraction violations. On this page, we provide a comprehensive guide to the CDL, CDL suspensions, and CDL restoration hearings.
As previously noted, driving in Connecticut is a privilege and therefore it is something that can be taken away from you. Here is a list of ways that a CDL license can be suspended and, in some case, disqualify you from ever having a CDL license.
Serious Traffic Offenses
A CDL driver will be disqualified from having a CDL for repeated convictions of “serious traffic offenses.” These offenses include speeding over 15 miles above the posted limit, reckless driving, erratic lane changes, texting while driving a commercial motor vehicle, and operating a commercial motor vehicle without a license to do so.
The penalty for two offenses within three years will result in a 60-day revocation of your license and having three or more violations in those three years carries a 120-day revocation.
Major Traffic Offenses
Commercial motor vehicle operation involving felonies as well as violations for being intoxicated with drugs or alcohol while driving can also result in a CDL disqualification.
Specifically, here is a list of the more common ones:
- Operating under the influence.
- Failing to stop for an accident.
- Driving a commercial vehicle in the commission of a felony. (This is a three year disqualification if a hazmat commercial vehicle was involved).
- A fatality was caused by negligent commercial vehicle operation.
Ten-year to lifetime disqualification:
A second conviction of:
- Operation under the influence.
- Failing to stop for an accident.
- Driving a commercial vehicle without a CDL.
- Using a motor vehicle in the commission of a felony will result in lifetime disqualification; however, reinstatement is possible after ten years.
- Using a motor vehicle to transport or distribute controlled substances will result in unalterable lifetime CDL disqualification.
- A CDL holder can also be deemed an imminent hazard by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, which disqualifies the driver until the designation is lifted.
Some traffic offenses or equipment violations can result in the operator/vehicle having an out-of-service order (OSO). An OSO prohibits the operation of the commercial motor vehicle and in some cases specifically bars the individual driver of the commercial motor vehicle. Operating in a violation of the OSO will result in license disqualification of 180 days to one year for a first offense, two to five years for a second offense, and three to five years for a third offense. Only violations within the last ten years are counted.
It is also important to recognize that if this was specifically a hazmat vehicle or a vehicle for 16 or more passengers during the OSO violation, the driver will be disqualified for 180 days to two years for a first offense and three to five years for a second or subsequent offense.
Commercial motor vehicle drivers must take special precautions when approaching or crossing railroad tracks. A violation of requirements regarding railroad crossings will result in a 60-day, 120-day, and one-year license revocation for a first, second, and third violation respectfully.
CDL holders are expected to be honest about any criminal history or recent convictions. This is especially true given the interstate nature of the commercial driving profession. Within 30 days of conviction, no matter where it occurred, a CDL holder must report all traffic violations to the state that issued their CDL and, if applicable, their employer. Moreover, if an applicant for a CDL lies on the application, they will have their license (or ability to obtain the license) suspended for 60-days and depending on if they had the license already or not may have to retake the CDL tests.
Although the above is focused on a CDL driver, it is important to note that CDL holders are still held to the standard of a regular (Class D) license.
CDL Restoration Hearing
Having a CDL license is considered a privilege and therefore the state can take this away from you, but not without giving you the opportunity to appeal the suspension. This process to be heard is considered a CDL restoration hearing. The notice you receive from the Department of Motor vehicles (DMV) will explain the suspension period, the length you will be suspended, and your opportunity to appeal. Typically, an appeal for this hearing must be requested within seven days.
This hearing is NOT in a court and the rules of criminal procedure do not apply. This is an administrative hearing and therefore the standard the state must prove is preponderance of the evidence. These hearings are most common with suspensions due to DUI. If you are suspended as a result of a court proceeding, this hearing will NOT be an option as you would have your opportunity to contest the charge and penalty in court. In the case of a suspension because of operating under the influence, the state will submit paperwork to the hearing officer and sometimes along with this documentation an attorney from the Department of Motor Vehicles will attend with the arresting officer. The officer and attorney will question them on the record regarding the incident. Other times the Department of Motor Vehicles will rest on the paperwork, including the police report and any breath tests or refusals form the incident.
Whether you are concerned about your ability to keep you CDL or restore your CDL license, an attorney can help you. A lawyer can help navigate the process and assist you in keeping your CDL and possibly your livelihood. Give us a call for a consultation and let us get you back on the road swiftly!