Brad Pistotnik Law
Abogado El Toro

Can Someone With a Lifetime CDL Suspension Have Their License Reinstated?

Can Someone With a Lifetime CDL Suspension Have Their License Reinstated?

Can a commercial motor vehicle operator with a suspended commercial driver's license (CDL) for life be reinstated? What process do they need to follow to get back behind the wheel? It is a common misconception that a "lifetime CDL disqualification" means there isn't a process to reinstate a commercial motor vehicle operator's driving privileges. The chilling reality is that it can and does happen, even for drivers who have committed negligent acts that have resulted in the loss of life and limb.

Major Violations That Can Lead To Lifetime Disqualification

Federal law requires a one-year minimum CDL suspension for major violations. This minimum CDL suspension would increase to three years if the CDL holder were transporting a HAZMAT vehicle. Under federal law, major violations that can lead to a fsuspen include:

  • Leaving the scene of a commercial motor vehicle accident.
  • Operating a commercial motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol/drugs.
  • Operating a commercial motor vehicle in the commission of a felony offense, including human trafficking.
  • Driving a commercial motor vehicle with a suspended CDL.
  • Negligent actions result in a fatality while operating a commercial motor vehicle.

Some states expand on this list with other major violations, including:

  • Fleeing or eluding law enforcement.
  • Vehicular manslaughter.
  • Conviction of sex-related offenses that require registration as a registered sex offender.

If a CDL holder commits a second major offense or subsequent offense while operating a vehicle under a suspended CDL, they are subject to a lifetime disqualification.

The Possibility of Reinstatement

While "lifetime disqualification" may seem clear enough, many states allow for reinstatement for drivers. There are notable exceptions, and there is no possibility for individuals who used their CDL for human trafficking or the distribution of controlled substances.

In other cases, Georgia, California, Maryland, Kansas, and many states allow drivers to apply for a CDL restoration. Most allow this after a ten-year period has elapsed from the initial lifetime disqualification.

The restoration process requires applicants to do the following:

  • Pay a CDL restoration fee.
  • Provide a copy of their driving history for the past 5-7 years.
  • Submit to a drug/alcohol evaluation.
  • Submit evidence of completion of a defensive driving clinic.
  • Provide an up-to-date USDOT medical certificate.
  • Provide evidence of a valid driver's license.

It is important to note that most states do not allow drivers to apply for restoration unless the state's lifetime disqualification action occurred. This prevents potentially dangerous drivers from hopping across state lines and getting back behind the wheel.

The Very Real Risk To Motorists

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has completed initial research that shows CDL holders penalized with a suspended CDL are six times more likely to be involved in a commercial motor vehicle accident than a driver who was never suspended. The full report is expected later this year and may influence state and federal laws that currently allow for reinstatement of revoked licenses.

Contact Brad Pistotnik Law at 1-800-241-BRAD or call us on our local line at 316-684-4400. Brad Pistotnik is a commercial motor vehicle accident attorney in Kansas. We represent clients pursuing many types of damages following commercial motor vehicle collisions in Kansas, Nebraska, Missouri, and Texas. If you can't come to us, we will come to you. You can call Brad Pistotnik on his cell at 316-706-5020. You can reach Tony Atterbury on his cell at 316-617-9237.