I have a DUI conviction. Can I get a commercial driver's license?

November 17, 2020 by G.W. Schulz

A commercial driver’s license can open up a whole new world of opportunities, so you may be one of many Oklahomans who choose to pursue one. But what if you are also one of the thousands of people arrested each year in Oklahoma for driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol?

While transportation regulators take drunk and drugged driving seriously, having been convicted of a DUI does not mean a commercial driver’s license is off limits to you.

If you do have a DUI, however, you’ll want to know what to expect before hitting the road toward a new career.

What if I already have a DUI?

The periods of time for which you are barred from a commercial license are the same as if you received a DUI after already being a commercial driver. One conviction or refusal of sobriety testing can lead to one year of disqualification. It’s three years if you hope to make extra money transporting hazardous materials.

With two prior DUI convictions, you are disqualified from a CDL for life. But you can qualify for reinstatement after a period of 10 years if you participate in a rehabilitation program approved by the State. It makes no difference if the convictions occurred in another state, nor does it matter if you received a DUI while driving your personal vehicle.

Why So Strict?

Due to their sheer size and power, commercial vehicles can cause far greater destruction in accidents than personal vehicles. Tens of thousands of Americans are injured in crashes involving buses and large trucks and around 5,000 people are killed each year. These numbers have steadily increased over the years.

So it’s no surprise that the government is strict about regulating commercial driver’s licenses.

Anything else I should consider?

You still have options even if you’re arrested for DUI and your commercial license becomes at risk. You can contest the revocation of your commercial license through a hearing with the Oklahoma Department of Public Safety.

Just keep in mind that revocation actions taken against either your personal or commercial licenses in the event of a DUI are administrative in nature and occur entirely separate from any criminal charges you might face.

Oklahoma also enforces drunk and drugged driving with equal severity. Even if you have a medical marijuana card, you can be charged with a DUI that could result in the revocation of your commercial license if any amount of marijuana is detected in your system. Marijuana can still show up in your body weeks after you’ve ingested it, and an officer does not need to prove you were physically impaired by marijuana - just that it appeared in your system.

See our previous post that further explains the relationship between driving under the influence and commercial driver’s licenses in Oklahoma.

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