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Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) Suspension

A commercial driver’s license—or CDL—is a special license for drivers who operate large and heavy vehicles like tractor-trailers, vehicles towing a trailer weighing more than 10,000 pounds, and other vehicles weighing more than 26,001 pounds or more.

These CDLs are for commercial purposes, which is why maintaining your CDL classification is absolutely imperative.

Since your employment often depends on it, having your CDL license suspended can cause considerable damage. The Farrish Law Firm, L.P.A. in Cincinnati can offer assistance for anyone in danger of having their CDL license suspended.

CDL Contents

There are various items that a CDL must contain:

  • A statement that proves authenticity, which reads “commercial driver’s license.”
  • Personal information of the licensed driver including name, signature, and address.
  • Other identifiable information such as date of birth, height, and sex.
  • The driver’s license number with a color photograph.
  • The date of issuance and expiration.

Along with a CDL’s contents, a driver can be qualified in various classifications, which must also be on the license:

  • A: For authorization to operate a Combination Vehicle.
  • B: For authorization to operate a Heavy Straight Vehicle.
  • C: For authorization to operate as Small Vehicle.
  • T: For authorization to operate a vehicle with double and triple trailers.
  • P: For authorization to drive a passenger vehicle.
  • N: For authorization to operate a tank vehicle.
  • H: For authorization to handle hazardous materials.
  • X: For authorization to operate a combination of the tank and hazardous materials endorsements.
  • S: For authorization to drive a school bus.


A driver with a CDL has more responsibility than drivers with regular licenses. Therefore, if a commercially licensed driver commits a violation, the consequences are more severe.

If you’re CDL is suspended and you are caught driving, you can be forced to pay a civil penalty of up to $2,500. In aggravated cases, you could face criminal penalties of up to $5,000 in fines and/or spend 90 days in prison. If your employer knowingly encourages a driver to operate a commercial motor vehicle without a valid CDL, they could be subject to a penalty of up to $10,000.

There are various other convictions a commercially licensed driver can find themselves in if they are not careful. Even if you are not driving your commercial vehicle at the time of a violation, you still may be subject to suspensions, fines, and more. These issues can not only cost your company to lose money, but put you at risk of losing your job. You may even face jail time.

One-Year Suspension: A CDL driver has one or more violations within a 10-year period.

90-Day to Five-Year Suspension: A CDL driver receives two or more serious traffic violations within a three-year period. Violations include: reckless driving, improper changing of lanes, excessive speeding, tailgating, and traffic offenses connected with a fatal traffic accident.

Three-Year Suspension: A CDL driver uses a commercial motor vehicle to commit a felony, a CDL driver leaves the scene of an accident, or a CDL driver is arrested for driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. (NOTICE: A driver with a normal license can be convicted of a DUI if their blood alcohol content (BAC) is at .08% or more, but a CDL driver can be convicted of a DUI if their BAC is at .04% or more.)

Life Suspension: A CDL driver commits a second offense of any one-year or three-year violations; a CDL driver uses a commercial motor vehicle to manufacture, distribute, or dispense a controlled substance; or a CDL driver commits any one of the one-year offenses while operating a commercial motor vehicle while handling hazardous materials.

Training and Testing

Because there are so many responsibilities that CDL drivers have, the training and testing involved to obtain a registered CDL is very demanding.

CDL training programs through truck driving schools specialize in providing the necessary knowledge and skills to properly and safely operate a commercial motor vehicle. Some of the training that goes into these programs include:

  • Backing, turning, driving, and maneuvering large vehicles.
  • How to properly read and understand a road map.
  • Efficient tip planning.
  • Extensive knowledge of U.S. Department of Transportation laws.
  • Other advanced driving techniques like hydroplaning, skid avoidance, and emergency actions.

CDL testing varies from state to state. However, there are national requirements:

  • A driver must pass—with at least an 80%— a written test with a minimum of 30 questions about truck parts and highway safety.
  • A driver must successfully perform required driving maneuvers in a vehicle that the driver expects to operate when they become a commercially licensed driver.
  • A driver must also meet standard safety requirements throughout the test and demonstrate the characteristics of an aware and operative driver.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and the state of the licensed driver can also conduct random audits, inspections, and examinations without notice.

At The Farrish Law Firm, L.P.A., our Cincinnati, Ohio, suspended driver’s license attorneys can offer assistance and suspension defense for any situation. We understand how important maintaining a CDL is to a licensed driver, and we will do everything we can to help. Contact us today.