How Long Do You Have To Wait To Get A CDL After A DUI?

Published: June 13, 2023
Last updated: March 24, 2024

Securing a Commercial Driver's License (CDL) after a driving under influence (DUI) conviction can be an uphill battle. It's a common question, how long do you have to wait to get a CDL after a DUI?

The answer, as it often does when it comes to legal matters, varies depending on several factors.

What is a Commercial Driver's License?

A Commercial Driver's License (CDL) is a special driver's license required in the United States to operate any type of vehicle weighing over 26,001 pounds or carrying hazardous materials that require placarding. This includes vehicles such as semi-trucks, dump trucks, passenger buses, and large cargo vans.

In essence, if you plan to drive a vehicle that is essential for commercial or transportation services and falls under the weight or hazard classification, you are required by law to have a CDL. But if you find yourself in a tricky situation, how long do you have to wait to get a CDL after a DUI?

Disqualification Periods

First and foremost, a DUI conviction results in an immediate disqualification of your CDL. The length of this disqualification depends on the severity of the offense and whether it's a first or subsequent violation.

For a first offense, you can expect a disqualification period of at least one year. If, however, you were driving a commercial vehicle that was carrying hazardous materials at the time of the DUI, this disqualification period jumps to a minimum of three years.

If you're unlucky enough to have a second DUI conviction, the situation becomes even more dire: you face a lifetime disqualification from holding a CDL. In some cases, this may be reduced to a 10-year disqualification, but this is dependent on state laws and the specific circumstances of your case.

State Laws and Regulations

It's also important to remember that these are federal regulations. Individual states can (and often do) enforce stricter regulations. You'll need to check with your local Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) or similar regulatory body for the specific rules in your state.

Reapplying for Your CDL

Once you've served the disqualification period and complied with all court orders, you can begin the process of getting your CDL back. This generally involves the following steps:

  1. Complete any required rehabilitation programs: Most states require DUI offenders to complete an alcohol or drug education program before reinstating their driving privileges. In some cases, you might also need to provide evidence of sobriety, such as clean drug tests.

  1. Apply for reinstatement with your state's Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV): This will likely involve paperwork, and you'll probably have to pay a reinstatement fee. The specific procedures and costs vary by state.

  1. Retake the CDL exams: Most states require drivers to retake both the written and road CDL exams after a DUI disqualification.

Remember, these are general steps and may vary depending on your specific situation and state law. It's always best to consult with a legal expert or your state's DMV for the most accurate information.

Preventing DUI: An Essential Step

While we've extensively discussed the severe and long-lasting consequences of DUI, it's vital to remember that prevention is the most effective strategy.

Understanding the repercussions of DUI is not just about knowing the potential pitfalls; it's about arming oneself with the knowledge to make better decisions.

Understanding Alcohol's Effects

One of the most crucial steps in preventing DUI is understanding the impact of alcohol on your body. Alcohol impairs your motor skills, reaction time, and decision-making abilities, all of which are essential for safe driving.

Designated Drivers and Rideshares

Having a designated driver is an excellent way to ensure that everyone gets home safely after a night out. Alternatively, rideshare services like Uber and Lyft are readily available in most urban and suburban areas.

Alcohol Education Programs

These programs provide essential information about the risks and realities of alcohol use, including the legal, professional, and personal consequences of DUI.


We hope that this guide has answered the question: How long do you have to wait to get a CDL after DUI?

While it is possible to get your CDL back after a DUI, the road is long and challenging. The best course of action is, of course, to avoid driving under the influence in the first place.

Stay safe, and drive responsibly! To become a responsible driver, check out these insightful tips on how to avoid the most common car accidents.

Sales Development Lead Scott spearheaded a collective blog site before expanding his automotive knowledge and joining the team. Now he leads our team of experts by building ideas on our Sales Development department.
Copyright © 2024 Keep Driving. All Rights Reserved.
DMCA.com Protection Status