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Illinois CDL Violations

Updated on March 15, 2023 → Under

If you hold an Illinois Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) you're governed by stricter traffic rules than non-commercial driver's license holders. These traffic rules apply whether you're driving your personal motor vehicle or a commercial motor vehicle for employment. Most of the common Illinois CDL violations can result in a permanent “conviction” and are considered “serious” traffic offenses by the Illinois Secretary of State.

If you're found guilty of committing multiple serious traffic violations within a certain period of time, your CDL may be disqualified. At Dohman Law Group, our experienced Rolling Meadows traffic attorneys have decades of experience handling CDL cases in Lake County, DuPage County, Cook County, Kane County, Kendall County, Will County, and across Illinois. As a result, we know how important it is for commercial motor vehicle drivers to keep their driving records clean and strive to avoid the potential dangers that can result in disqualification or suspension of their CDL. To schedule a free initial consultation, contact our criminal defense law firm today at 847-616-9993 or chat with us online to learn how we can help. 

What Disqualifies a CDL Driver?

The commission of certain traffic violations or improper use of a CDL can result in license revocation or disqualification. It’s essential to note that license disqualification can be reviewed and appealed in court.

The commission of multiple "serious traffic offenses" within three years can cause license revocation. Serious traffic violations include reckless driving, erratic lane changes, speeding 15 miles per hour or more over the speed limit, distracted driving, following too closely, and any other traffic violation that causes a fatality. Driving a CMV without proper license or endorsement, and holding multiple driver's licenses are also considered serious traffic violations. Having two serious traffic violations may result in a minimum 60-day disqualification and having three or more traffic violations may result in a minimum 120-day disqualification.

Illinois truck driving on highway

Further, in Illinois, law enforcement officers may issue temporary out-of-service orders (OSOs) to motor vehicles or drivers that are a danger to public safety. For instance, driving with any amount of drugs or alcohol in your system causes a 24-hour OSO. An out-of-service order can also result in a class A misdemeanor criminal charge and fines ranging between $2,750 and $25,000 for the driver's employer. The CDL holder will face a fine ranging between $2,750 and $25,000 and the following additional license penalties:

  • For a first offense within ten years the CDL holder may face a six-month license disqualification or a one-year disqualification period if the commercial motor vehicle was designed for hazmat or 16 or more passengers.
  • For a second traffic offense within ten years, the driver will face a two-year license disqualification or three-year period if in a commercial motor vehicle designed for hazmat or 16 or more passengers.
  • For the third offense within ten years, the CMV driver will face a three-year license disqualification or a five-year license disqualification period if in a CMV designed for hazmat or 16 or more passengers.

Illinois also has special traffic rules for operating a commercial motor vehicle near or over railroad tracks. Commercial motor vehicles must always stop or slow down before crossing tracks and must adhere to all railroad signals. A railroad crossing violation can result in a 2-month, 4-month, or one-year license disqualification for a first, second, and third railroad track violation within 3 years. An employer who knowingly allows a CMV driver to violate railroad rules may be charged with a class A misdemeanor offense and a maximum fine of $10,000.

Certain traffic rule violations or criminal convictions can result in a minimum 12-month license disqualification. This includes driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, chemical test refusal, driving a commercial motor vehicle with a 0.04% or higher blood alcohol concentration or any amount of drugs, fleeing the scene of a car accident, erratic traffic lane change, using a motor vehicle to commit a felony offense, overweight violation, excessive speeding, driving a CMV with a revoked license and causing a fatal accident because of a commercial motor vehicle traffic violation. The CDL holder will be disqualified for three years, especially if a major traffic violation occurred in a hazmat CMV.

Second or subsequent violations may result in lifetime disqualification, though CDL reinstatement is possible after ten years. A third major traffic violation or the production or transportation of controlled substances using any vehicle may lead to lifetime revocation without the possibility of license reinstatement.

All commercial motor vehicle operators are deemed to have given consent to a test of their breath, blood, or urine to determine the presence of alcohol or drugs in their system. A police officer with probable cause to believe a CMV driver is driving under the influence of substances can request a chemical test. Refusal to take the chemical test can result in license disqualification, an out-of-service order, and further testing.

Does a DUI Disqualify You from a CDL?

There are two issues every CDL operator must know about a DUI arrest. First, unlike normal drunk driving cases, a blood alcohol content of 0.04 while driving a commercial vehicle can cause a license suspension or revocation. Second, even if a commercial vehicle driver is arrested for DUI in a personal vehicle they will still lose their CDL.

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DUI Penalties for CDL Drivers

At Dohman Law Group, our DUI defense team can help you determine if the arresting police officer had probable cause to pull you over at a traffic stop, whether the prosecution can prove that you were intoxicated, and whether the blood alcohol test was administered correctly and if the test results are accurate. We’ll try to reduce the ramifications of a CDL violation and use our expertise and experience to fight your charges, minimize the consequences of a traffic violation conviction, or get the charges reduced or even dropped.

Can I Request Court Supervision?

Although a court supervision sentence might be a favorable sentence for the regular driver in Illinois, it’s not favorable for a CDL holder. For many traffic offenses, the Illinois Secretary of State considers a court supervision sentence like a conviction. This means that a court supervision sentence won’t prevent the disqualification or suspension of your CDL. Further, court supervision won’t prevent the traffic ticket from appearing on your public driving record even if you were driving your personal vehicle at the time of the traffic violation.

What Medications Disqualify a CDL Driver?

Truck drivers are prohibited from driving under the influence of illegal drugs. Illicit drugs, such as heroin, cocaine, and even marijuana (which might be legal in some states, but are illegal under federal law) are against federal trucking regulations. Further, motor vehicle accidents caused by driving under the influence of these illegal drugs qualify as a state DWI or DUI crime. If the CDL driver that hit you was impaired when the accident happened, that’s a severe infraction that can prove the truck driver was at fault for the fatal traffic accident.

Also, commercial vehicle drivers are prohibited from using prescription drugs without a valid prescription. Most drugs, including Adderall, are abused to help people stay alert and awake while working long hours on the road. Some of these drugs are illegal without a valid prescription, violate many state DUI or DWI crimes, and also violate federal regulations.

Truck driver taking a break in Illinois

Other prescriptions, medications, and pharmaceutical drugs are a bit more complex. When qualifying to be a truck driver, applicants must possess a commercial drivers’ license (CDL). Also, they must pass a medical examination, which shows they don’t have conditions that may make them unsafe drivers. Problems with hearing, eyesight, limb control, and even diabetes can disqualify a truck driver outright. If a trucking driver who is medically disqualified gets behind the wheel, the driver and their employer trucking company may both be liable for any accidents the driver causes.

The defense attorneys at Dohman Law Group have represented commercial truck drivers and trucking companies in Cook County, DuPage County, Lake County, Kane County, Kendall County, McHenry County, Will County, and throughout Illinois on a wide variety of traffic violations.

From alcohol violations to overweight truck violations, our legal team understands the constantly changing landscape of Illinois law and we will fiercely defend your CDL privileges and driving record. Often, we’ll work to secure an amendment or reduction to the original traffic charge or take your case to trial if appropriate. Regardless of the circumstances of your traffic violation, CDL drivers must consult with an experienced traffic attorney for legal representation.

Our experienced Chicago traffic attorneys are ready to help. To schedule a free case review call our Chicago law office today at 847-616-9993, or chat with us online to learn how we can help.  

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