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Can You Be a Commercial Driver With a DUI on Your Record?

Posted on March 2, 2023 in

States like Arizona depend heavily on the transportation industry for their goods and services, and with 6 major interstate highways, the Grand Canyon State is mecca for truck drivers. But what if you want to become a commercial driver in Arizona but have a past conviction for DUI? Everyone makes mistakes, and you may be wondering if your past mistake will negatively impact your career goals for the future. Can you still get a commercial driver’s license (CDL) in Arizona with a past conviction for driving under the influence?

Truck Drivers in Arizona are Held to High Standards

Because of the large size and heavy weight of commercial trucks and buses, they pose a particular danger to others on the road. For that reason, Arizona—like most states—holds commercial drivers to the highest standards. For those who hold a CDL in Arizona, a blood alcohol level of .04% is enough for a DUI charge compared to .08% for drivers with only a standard driver’s license. This means as few as 2 drinks could potentially end in a DUI and license suspension for a commercial driver. 

Those who already have a commercial driver’s license face the loss of their CDL for 12 months for a first conviction on top of standard DUI fines and at least 10 days in jail. Subsequent convictions permanently revoke the commercial driver’s license. What’s more, Arizona shares this information with all other states so a multi-offender won’t be able to work in the commercial driving industry in Arizona or elsewhere. But what if you’re applying for a CDL AFTER a DUI? Does having a past DUI on your record prevent you from obtaining a commercial driver’s license?

Obtaining a CDL with a History of DUI

An initial application for a commercial driver’s license in Arizona requires a thorough history and documentation including the following:

  • Birth certificate and photo ID proving citizenship and identity
  • 2 Documents with your name and address proving you reside in Arizona
  • A medical clearance
  • Proof of at least one year of driving experience in the form of a valid Arizona driver’s license

You must also first obtain a learner’s permit for commercial driving and pass a skills test. In the process of applying for a CDL, you’re required to show at least a year of driving experience and a current driver’s license. If your driver’s license is suspended due to a DUI, you will not be able to obtain a CDL until the suspension period has ended and you have a valid and current driver’s license. If you are still under a suspended driver’s license, you will not be able to get a CDL, but once you’ve met the terms of your penalties and your driver’s license has been reinstated, you may apply for a commercial driver’s license in Arizona.

When applying for a CDL, it’s essential that you’re honest about the DUI on your record. Failing to report the past record will be held against you and the state is likely to deny the application. Being forthright in your answers and paperwork during this process improves the likelihood of approval to gain a CDL.

Will a Transportation Industry Employer Still Hire Me with a DUI History?

While ultimately it’s up to the individual employer whether or not to hire a driver with a valid commercial driver’s license but a DUI on their record, the growing transportation industry and large demand for the transportation of goods means there’s a high demand for drivers. In many cases, a single past DUI conviction won’t be held against you if you’ve met all the terms of the conviction, had your license reinstated, and hold a current CDL.

Contact a Phoenix criminal defense attorney at the Stewart Law Group to schedule a free consultation to explore your legal options.