Can you get a CDL with a bad record?

Okay, look, we’ve all done stupid things in our life. Granted, some of us have done things that are more stupid than others, but there’s plenty examples of individuals who’ve made mistakes in the past and have gone on to get their CDLs. There’s really just two questions at hand when looking at this. Number one is what I’ve done in the past going to prevent me from getting a CDL in the first place? And number two, once I have that CDL, will the mistakes I’ve made in the past prevent me from being an employee at certain carriers? The answer might be yes in both instances. So let’s take a look.

First of all, when a state is granting a CDL it’s going to look primarily at whether or not they feel your past actions have a future probability of causing harm to the public when it comes to safety. When you apply, they’re going to run a background check, and everything’s going to come into the light. Just because you have a police record does not prevent you from getting a CDL, but it does depend on what’s on that record. If you’ve killed someone in the past in an accident while you were driving, well that one’s going to be a little bit hard to overcome. However, if you had a DUI a long time ago, that one might just fly.

It’s not so much about what each state has as far as their disqualifications. There’s also federal ones too that can keep you out of the game. So really the bigger question is, “If I am able to get that CDL with my checkered past, will anyone hire me?” Well the good news is the driver shortage has had some companies becoming a little bit more lenient in their hiring requirements. However, the insurance companies who set the rule on the other hand, well, they seem to have gotten more strict.

It’s pretty easy to find out what company’s requirements are. First, you can take a look at the postings at Many times companies post requirements right there in black and white and they’ll say, for instance, you can only have X number of moving violations, or you must not have a blah, blah, blah. Another way is just pick up the phone and call. Any trucking company will be happy to tell you if you qualify. An inbound call with questions makes any trucking recruiter weak in the knees, so go ahead and make someone’s day. Anyway, there’s no really definitive answer if the sins of your past is going to keep you from getting that CDL. Yes, there are some like there’s no snowball’s chance in hell offenses, but you’re not going to find out until you ask some questions.

The Trucker News Staff produces engaging content for not only, but also The Trucker Newspaper, which has been serving the trucking industry for more than 30 years. With a focus on drivers, the Trucker News Staff aims to provide relevant, objective content pertaining to the trucking segment of the transportation industry. The Trucker News Staff is based in Little Rock, Arkansas.
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