How To Get a CDL Back After Suspension in Texas

White semi truck driving on foggy highway.

Commercial Driver’s Licenses (CDLs) are essential to the livelihoods of countless Americans who drive commercial vehicles for a living. Those drivers who are entrusted to keep our economy running smoothly drive dangerous vehicles and haul expensive and essential cargo, and are therefore held to a higher standard than most on the road.

Not only is the legal limit for alcohol lower for CDL holders (0.04%, as opposed to 0.08%), but commercial vehicle drivers convicted for certain offenses face long license suspensions, during which they cannot work — and depending on the offense, they may not get their CDLs back.

Wondering how to get a CDL back after suspension in Texas? You’re in the right place. Javier Guzman is a criminal lawyer who fiercely protects the rights of truck drivers in the Lone Star State, and he is here to talk about CDL suspensions and how to beat them. 

If you or a loved one is a truck driver facing criminal charges or license suspensions, call Javier today at (956) 516-7198 and ask him to fight for you. 

How long does it take to reinstate a suspended license in Texas?

How long your license reinstatement will take in Texas depends entirely upon why your license was suspended or revoked in the first place. Once you are officially eligible for license reinstatement, the process goes pretty quickly, and reinstatement fees paid online are processed instantly. 

That, however, is not the case for CDL reinstatements in Texas. While CDLs are sometimes automatically reinstated after disqualification periods are served, sometimes those disqualification periods last a lifetime.

According to the Texas Department of Public Safety and Texas Transportation Code 522.081, here is how long you can expect to be disqualified from operating a commercial motor vehicle based on the conviction that disqualified you:

ConvictionDisqualification Period
Alcohol, leaving the scene of an accident, or commission of a felonyAt least one year for first offense; lifetime for a second offense
Alcohol, leaving the scene of an accident, or commission of a felony while operating a vehicle carrying hazardous materialsAt least three years for first offense; lifetime for second offense
Two serious traffic offenses within three years60 days
Three serious traffic offenses within three years120 days
Railroad-highway grade crossing violations60 days for first offense; 120 days for second offense within 3 years; at least 1 year for third offense within 3 years
Using a commercial motor vehicle in the commission of a felonyLifetime

How to get your CDL back after a suspension

After waiting out your disqualification period, the process of getting your CDL back after a suspension is actually quite simple. 

  1. Complete the necessary waiting period.
  2. Fulfill any court requirements, including substance abuse programs or return-to-duty programs.
  3. Provide compliance documentation to the DPS.
  4. Submit your CDL reinstatement fee.

Unfortunately, for those who have been convicted of disqualifying crimes, reinstating your CDL is not as easy. You will have to attend a license revocation hearing in which they will rule on suspension vs. disqualification, and although you may be able to appeal that decision, the road to reinstatement is much longer and more difficult. 

What disqualifies you from getting a CDL in Texas?

In keeping with the above list from the Texas DPS, the following list of Texas CDL disqualifications are the only ways in which you can get banned for life:

  • Using a commercial motor vehicle in the commission of a felony
  • Second offense DWIs
  • Second offenses for leaving the scene of an accident
  • Second offenses for the commission of any felony

Other infractions will result in suspensions, but the above list are the only things that the Texas DPS specifies will get you banned for life. 

How long after a DWI can you get a CDL in Texas?

The waiting period after being convicted for your first DWI in Texas as a CDL holder is one to three years, depending on the circumstances of your offense. Keep in mind that aggravated DWI and felony DWI charges may come with steeper penalties.

If you’re convicted for a second offense DWI as a CDL holder, you’ll be looking at a lifetime disqualification. 

Beyond this, because the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regulates employers who hire commercial drivers, even if you get your CDL back after your first DWI, many employers will not want to risk hiring you. This is why it is so vital to fight your DWI charge with everything you’ve got. You’ve only got one life, and after a DWI conviction, it may never be the same. 

Continue reading: Is a DWI a felony in Texas?

Does Texas have a CDL point system?

No, Texas does not use a license point system to track infractions for either CDL or regular drivers. Texas did have a CDL point system for a long time, but it was repealed in 2019. Why? Because too many drivers were losing their licenses. 

The CDL point system worked like this: you would be given points for all eligible traffic violations, which were graded from being less severe to more severe, and assigned higher points the more impactful the infraction. These points would fall off of your record eventually, and you could take defensive driving courses to keep points off of your record, but the system was still deemed too punitive — so punitive that the Texas DPS ended up reinstating a number of suspended licenses after the program was repealed. 

If your CDL is suspended can you still drive a car?

That depends. As long as your regular driver’s license is not suspended, you can still drive a regular car (i.e. non-commercial vehicle), but if your CDL was suspended because you got a DWI with a CDL, both your CDL and your regular driver’s license have likely been suspended. 

So, if your CDL is suspended you can under no circumstances drive a commercial vehicle, but may still be able to drive a regular car; however, if your regular license is suspended as well, you can’t do any driving whatsoever. 

How to get CDL back after a failed drug test

We understand that failed drug tests can be a scary thing for CDL holders, for whom being on the road is more than just their livelihood. Here is what to expect after failing a drug test as a CDL driver:

  1. You will immediately be removed from safety-sensitive functions.
  2. Your failed drug test will be made permanent, and the DOT record will be searchable by any employer current or future. 
  3. You will need to begin a DOT return-to-duty program before you can return to work. This includes going through evaluation and treatment with a DOT Substance Abuse Professional (SAP). How long your work with this SAP will take depends a lot on you, but will take at least 12 months to complete. 

DWI convictions ruin careers. Beat the charge with Guzman Law Firm.

So, how can an experienced criminal lawyer help with your CDL suspension? Whether you’ve been accused of a second offense DWI in Texas as a truck driver, smuggling immigrants across the border, or were a victim of illegal search and seizure, a skilled attorney can help defend your rights and protect your way of life by fighting your charges in a court of law. 

If you’ve been accused of a serious crime and you’re wondering how to get a CDL back after suspension, you may need to avoid your suspension entirely by avoiding conviction if you plan on getting your life back.

Javier Guzman has made a name for himself by taking complex criminal charges to state and federal courts for his clients and winning. If you or a loved one is a truck driver who has been accused of a felony crime, call Guzman Law Firm today at (956) 516-7198 or contact us online to defend your freedom. 

More Helpful Articles by Guzman Law Firm: