Can You Be A Truck Driver With A Felony? Although a felony conviction presents challenges, the dream of becoming a truck driver may still be within reach. With persistence and the right approach, individuals with a criminal record can find success behind the wheel of a big rig.
The trucking industry offers opportunities for felons seeking a fresh start and a stable career. However, securing a job requires understanding company hiring policies, obtaining proper licensing, and taking steps to demonstrate rehabilitation.
Additionally, expungement and other legal remedies may open doors to those with past mistakes. So for determined individuals willing to comply with regulations, a bright future on the open road remains a possibility. Background checks and disclosures do not have to halt a motivating ambition.
In this article, we will know whether you can get a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) while having a felony on your record.
Takeaway of this article:
- Overview of the possibility of becoming a truck driver with a felony.
- Understanding the types of felonies that may affect Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) eligibility.
- Precautions and tips for applying to trucking companies as a felon.
- A list of trucking companies that are more open to hiring felons.
- Considerations for felonies involving the use of a commercial motor vehicle (CMV).
What Are the Felonies That Can Reject Your CDL?
Non-violent felonies are generally less concerning to trucking companies. Crimes like drug possession, petty theft, and fraud may not automatically disqualify a candidate. However, violent felonies like assault, robbery, and sex offenses are often seen as too high-risk for hiring.
Additionally, felonies involving vehicles such as DUI, hit-and-run, and automobile theft will raise major red flags for trucking firms. However, old DUIs do not necessarily prohibit licensing if the individual has completed all legal obligations. Here are some examples:
- Using a commercial vehicle and commission of felony first or second-degree manslaughter with a motor vehicle
- Causing a fatality through negligent or reckless vehicle operation
- Any felony committed using a commercial vehicle
- Assault with intent to murder
- Operating a vehicle with a blood alcohol level of 0.08% or higher
Moreover, time is an important factor. Felonies from long ago suggest reform rather than ongoing criminal tendencies. So old, minor convictions from more than 7-10 years past may be overlooked by some companies.
Furthermore, completing all probation terms and payment of fines demonstrates responsibility. Full compliance with court orders indicates changed behavior.
So in summary, non-violent, vehicle-related felonies from the distant past pose the least threat to CDL eligibility if judicial punishment is served in full. However, violent crimes and recent vehicle offenses are hard to overcome. Honest disclosure and personal responsibility help.
What Are the Precautions When Applying to Trucking Companies as a Felon?
Here are some tips on applying to trucking companies as a felon:
- Do your research: Look into companies open to hiring felons like C.R. England, Western Express, and Veriha Trucking. Avoid wasting time with no-hire policies.
- Gather documentation: Have your background check, proof of compliance with probation, and evidence of any rehab/training ready. This shows you’re transparent and responsible.
- Address it directly: Don’t hide your record, be upfront on applications. Briefly explain the crime, punishment, and your road to rehabilitation.
- Emphasize reform: Highlight positive steps like education achievements, volunteering, sobriety time, etc. This demonstrates you’ve changed for the better.
- Obtain proper licensing: Make sure you’ve taken care of any license suspensions and met state eligibility rules. This shows you follow regulations.
- Explore legal remedies: See if record expungement or felony downgrading is possible in your state. This can open up your options.
- Be patient and persistent: The process may take time and you’ll face rejections. Don’t get discouraged, find employers willing to work with your background.
With determination and honesty, reformed felons can overcome the stigma of starting over as truckers. A clean recent record and taking responsibility for your past mistakes go a long way in the hiring process. Follow these tips and focus on the future to get your CDL despite prior convictions.
What Are the Trucking Companies that Hire Felons?
While many carriers do perform background checks and restrict hiring felons, certain trucking companies are more open to giving reformed ex-offenders a second chance. Drivers with convictions on their record should focus their job search on the following firms known for working with felons:
- Roehl Transport
- Swift Transportation
- Werner Enterprises
- C.R. England
- Crete Carrier Corporation
- C.R. England Inc.
- Boyd Bros Transportation
- Cardinal Logistics Management
- United Parcel Service (UPS)
- Southern Refrigerated Transportation
- Knight Transportation
While it may take some additional effort, those willing to comply with regulations can successfully embark on a trucking career despite past mistakes. With a good work ethic and responsible attitude, rehabilitated felons can get moving down an open highway to redemption.
What About Commercial Motor Vehicle (CMV) Felony Charges?
If your felony conviction involved the use of a commercial motor vehicle (CMV), this presents a major challenge to obtaining a CDL. However, it may not be an insurmountable barrier depending on the specifics of the case. Here are some key factors to consider:
- The nature of the crime: Felonies like motor vehicle theft, trafficking illegal substances, driving under the influence, or manslaughter with a CMV indicate a high safety risk. These would be difficult to overcome. However, lesser charges like paperwork violations may still allow licensing.
- When it occurred: More recent CMV felonies are of greater concern versus older offenses where substantial time has passed. Many states only go back 10 years for convictions.
- Completion of sentencing: Serving full probation terms, payment of fines, suspension periods, and rehabilitation programs helps demonstrate you’ve changed. Incomplete sentences raise red flags.
- Obtaining approval: The process may require an administrative hearing to present your case for being allowed CDL eligibility despite a CMV conviction. Letters of support from employers and character references can help.
- Maintaining a clean record: Avoiding any additional moving violations or criminal charges since the felony is imperative. Ongoing good conduct is key.
Moreover, a prior felony with a large truck or bus creates major obstacles but some drivers have successfully argued their case after many years. The best path forward is transparently acknowledging your past, evidencing rehabilitation, and proving you don’t pose an ongoing safety risk.
What is a TWIC Card for Truck Drivers?
A TWIC card stands for Transportation Worker Identification Credential and is required for truck drivers hauling loads in and out of secure ports. The TWIC program is managed by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and the card verifies that an individual has passed a TSA security threat assessment and is approved to access sensitive shipping areas.
To obtain a TWIC card, truck drivers must provide biographic information, fingerprints, and documentation to verify identity and immigration status. A federal criminal background check is conducted to ensure applicants do not have disqualifying convictions. Once approved, drivers are issued a credential containing encoded biometric data to confirm cardholder identity when entering ports.
Truckers who need unescorted access to ports and marine terminals for picking up or delivering cargo must have a valid TWIC card. Major port facilities across the United States require them for entry. Having a TWIC shows trucking companies and port authorities that a driver has passed comprehensive vetting and does not pose a security risk.
The card must be renewed every 5 years and can be revoked for disqualifying criminal offenses. Obtaining a TWIC is a critical step for drivers hauling freight in and around sensitive port environments.
I am On Probation, Can I Still Get CDL?
It is very challenging for felons currently on probation to find employment as truck drivers. Most trucking companies are hesitant to hire someone with an open criminal case due to insurance liability risks. However, the following tips may help those seeking truck driving jobs while on probation:
- Focus your job search on trucking companies known to be open to felons such as C.R. England, Western Express, Veriha Trucking, and others. These carriers may still consider applicants on probation on a case-by-case basis.
- Be completely transparent about your felony history and current probation status during the hiring process. Attempting to hide it will lead to automatic disqualification.
- Make sure your probation officer is aware of and approves your plan to obtain a commercial driver’s license and driving job. Their input will be key.
- Emphasize compliance with all probation terms, classes, restitution, community service, etc. This shows responsibility.
- Obtain letters of recommendation that speak to your character, work ethic, and rehabilitation progress.
- Offer to voluntarily submit to non-DOT alcohol and drug testing during probation as an extra assurance.
- Accept that options will be very limited so cast a wide net and be willing to take any driving opportunity offered.
While still a long shot, upfront communication, accountability, and going above and beyond probation requirements can help make getting hired as a new CDL holder on probation a possibility in some cases.
Does getting a felony expunged improve my chances of getting a CDL?
Yes, getting a felony expunged can significantly improve your chances of obtaining a CDL, since it essentially clears your record of the conviction in many states.
What types of character references help felons the most with trucking companies?
Strong character references from employers, parole officers, teachers, or community leaders emphasizing your rehabilitation carry weight with trucking firms.
Should I disclose felonies from my juvenile record on my trucking job application?
Most companies recommend disclosing your entire criminal history including juvenile felonies to avoid any accusation of lying if revealed in the background check.
Is there financial assistance available to felons for truck driving school?
Some truck driving schools offer scholarships and financial aid options, which felons may qualify for based on income criteria rather than background alone.
Can I still get a hazmat endorsement on my CDL with a felony drug conviction?
No, a hazmat endorsement is automatically disqualified by a felony drug conviction per TSA regulations. You would be ineligible to haul hazardous materials.
Will trucking companies hire registered sex offenders as drivers?
Most major carriers avoid hiring registered sex offenders due to public safety concerns and challenges getting insurance coverage. Small owner-operators may be an option.