• Justin Sparks

Can You Get a CDL With a DWI in Texas?

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that more and more people are applying for a commercial driver’s license. As a matter of fact, research shows that there are over 17 million commercial drivers in Texas alone.


However, drivers who want to apply for a CDL need to meet a couple of criteria regarding past convictions, including DWIs. This article will take a deep dive into Texas DWI regulations and their impact on CDL applicants.


What Is a CDL?

What Is a CDL?


A Commercial Driver’s License is a license that allows people to drive specific specialized vehicles like buses or tank trucks. In fact, all heavy, oversized, and multiple passenger vehicles require a CDL. Drivers also need a CDL in order to transport hazardous materials like explosives, flammable liquids, and radioactive substances.


Can People Get a CDL With a DWI Conviction?


Simply put, it is possible to get a CDL even if an applicant has a DWI conviction. However, drivers have to wait until their suspension is completed to become eligible for a license. They also need to wait an additional year after a first offense DWI, also known as the disqualification period. Drivers need to keep in mind that being convicted of a second DWI offense bans them from ever applying for a commercial driver’s license.


Although it is possible to get a CDL with a DWI conviction (since there aren't that many DWI cases that get dismissed in Texas), drivers might have a hard time finding employment. Many insurance companies will not insure drivers with driving convictions on their records. Insurers do that to avoid dealing with high-risk drivers, as they consider them more likely to DWI again in the future.


Furthermore, many companies simply will not hire DWI drivers for the same reason as insurers. However, some private contractors will hire DWI drivers as long as a specific period has passed since the last conviction. Usually, that implies three years since the charge or two years after the restoration of the license.


In other words, drivers should do everything they can to avoid getting a DWI on their record. Otherwise, even if they manage to get a CDL, they’ll still have a hard time finding work.


What Can a Driver Ineligible for CDL Do?


Drivers who are ineligible for a CDL due to their second-offense DWI are able to operate the following vehicles once their license has been reinstated:


● Recreational vehicles

● Emergency or fire-fighting vehicles, when used as authorized

● Farm vehicles in order to transport machinery, farm supplies, or agricultural products within 150 lines of the farm

● Military vehicles for military purposes

● Air carrier vehicles that an employee operates on the premises of the airport

● Vehicles that carry seed cotton modules or cotton burrs

It’s essential to note that even if a driver can operate these above-mentioned vehicles, they might still be unable to find work due to a DWI conviction.


Restricted CDL


Another option drivers can opt for is to get a restricted CDL. This type of license can be issued to suppliers of agricultural inputs or their employees. Agricultural input refers to applicators of agricultural fertilizers, chemicals, animal feeds, and seeds. Drivers who get a restricted CDL can operate Class B or C vehicles.


However, there are a few limitations when applying for these licenses. The applicant needs to have had a good driving record for at least two years prior to the request. Generally speaking, that applies to individuals who have been at fault in an accident or had their driver's license revoked, suspended, or canceled are ineligible. Also, some specific convictions disqualify potential applicants, such as:


● Accident-related traffic law violations

● Leaving the scene of an accident

● Serious traffic violations, like reckless driving, following too closely, or speeding at least 15 miles per hour over the limit

● Felonies involving motor vehicles

It’s important to remember that arrests for DWI can involve additional charges, making an applicant ineligible.


Can a DWI Lawyer Help?


Overall, drivers who have a DWI on their record will have difficulty getting a CDL. In fact, it can even affect other job prospects that don’t involve commercial vehicles. As a result, drivers who were charged within the last 30 days should contact a DWI attorney from the top DWI law firm in Fort Worth TX in order to appeal their conviction. If successful, the appeal will remove the DWI charge from the record and allow first-time offenders to apply for a CDL.


An experienced lawyer can also help determine if one can get off probation early in Texas for DWI.