How To Get A CDL License (2024 Guide)


Are you someone who’s made mistakes in the past but now looking for a fresh start? Getting a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) might just be the ticket to a new beginning.

Even if you have a felony on your record, there are ways to pursue this career path and reap its benefits.

Let’s break it down in simple terms.

How to get a CDL license

If you are considering becoming a truck driver, the first thing you need to do is get a CDL license.

You must be at least 21 years of age to qualify and have a 10 years or longer driving record. Note that fees and requirements for obtaining this license vary by state, and you need to contact your local DMV for specific instruction.

The good news is that in general having a criminal record does not prevent you from getting a CDL license and pursuing a career in commercial trucking.

Here is what you need to do:

Step 1: Understand the Requirements

Before diving in, it’s crucial to understand what it takes to get a CDL. Generally, you need to be at least 18 years old (21 for interstate driving), have a valid driver’s license, and meet certain medical and residency requirements. Having a felony doesn’t automatically disqualify you, but it might pose some challenges.

Step 2: Check Eligibility

Certain felonies may prevent you from getting a CDL, especially those involving drugs or violence. However, each state has its own rules, so it’s essential to check with your local Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) or Department of Transportation (DOT).

Step 3: Complete Training

To get a CDL, you’ll need to undergo training from a certified program. Many community colleges and vocational schools offer these courses. The training typically includes classroom instruction and hands-on practice to prepare you for the CDL exam.

Step 4: Pass the CDL Exam

Once you’ve completed your training, it’s time to take the CDL exam. This test consists of a written portion covering road signs, traffic laws, and safe driving practices, as well as a skills test where you demonstrate your ability to operate a commercial vehicle.

Step 5: Land a Job

With your CDL in hand, you’re ready to hit the road! Many companies are willing to hire felons, especially those with a clean driving record and a strong work ethic. Truck driving offers competitive pay, flexible schedules, and opportunities for advancement.

Now that you know how to get a CDL let’s talk about why it’s worth pursuing.

Benefits of Getting a CDL

Steady Income: Truck driving jobs are in high demand, offering a stable income to support yourself and your family.

Flexibility: Whether you prefer short hauls or long-distance trips, there are plenty of opportunities to find a schedule that fits your lifestyle.

Independence: As a truck driver, you have the freedom to work independently, without someone looking over your shoulder all the time.

Travel: If you enjoy seeing new places, truck driving allows you to explore different cities and landscapes as part of your job.

Job Security: With the growing demand for goods transportation, truck drivers are always in demand, providing a sense of security in your career.

Health Benefits: Many trucking companies offer health insurance and other benefits, ensuring you and your family stay healthy.

Retirement Benefits: Some companies offer retirement plans and other perks to help you plan for the future.

Felonies That Disqualify Someone From Getting A CDL License

However, there are specific felonies that may disqualify you from getting this license on the federal level:

– Misconduct in a vehicle
– Using a commercial vehicle to commit a crime
– Manslaughter using a vehicle
– Causing death through reckless driving
– Arson
– Treason
– Smuggling activities
– Kidnapping
– Assault with attempted murder
– Extortion and bribery
– Operating a motor vehicle under influence (BAC of .08% or more)

Note, each state may have additional felonies that would make you not eligible. Bottom line – without a CDL, you cannot drive a commercial truck.

Is A CDL License Worth It?

In conclusion, while having a felony on your record may present some challenges, it doesn’t have to define your future. By obtaining a CDL, you can embark on a rewarding career path with plenty of opportunities for growth and success. So don’t let past mistakes hold you back—take the first step toward a brighter future today!

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