How do I get a CDL job with bad driving record? The trucking industry is booming, with an ever-increasing demand for skilled and experienced drivers. However, for aspiring truck drivers with a less-than-perfect driving record, securing a CDL job can seem like an insurmountable obstacle. While a history of driving violations can pose challenges, it doesn’t have to be a career-ender. With the right approach, preparation, and perseverance, you can overcome these hurdles and land your dream job behind the wheel.
Understanding Your Driving Record
Before embarking on your CDL journey, it’s crucial to gain a thorough understanding of your driving record. This involves obtaining a copy of your Motor Vehicle Record (MVR), a comprehensive document that details your driving history, including traffic violations, accidents, and any other driving-related incidents.
Once you have your MVR, carefully review it to identify any patterns or areas for improvement. Understanding the nature and frequency of your violations is essential for developing a plan to address them and demonstrate your commitment to safe driving practices.
CDL Driving Record Requirements
CDL driving record requirements are determined by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and vary depending on the type of commercial motor vehicle (CMV) you are operating. However, there are some general requirements that apply to all CDL drivers.
CDL Disqualification Offenses
Certain offenses will disqualify you from obtaining or keeping a CDL. These offenses include:
- Operating a CMV under the influence of alcohol or drugs
- Leaving the scene of an accident
- Using a CMV in the commission of a felony
- Reckless driving
- Multiple traffic violations
In addition to these disqualification offenses, there are a number of other offenses that can result in a suspension or revocation of your CDL. These offenses include speeding, following too closely, and failing to yield the right of way.
CDL Driving Record Points
The FMCSA also uses a point system to track CDL violations. Each violation is assigned a certain number of points, and if you accumulate too many points, your CDL may be suspended or revoked. The number of points required for suspension or revocation depends on the type of offense and your previous driving record.
CDL Driving Record Review
Employers are required to review the driving records of their CDL drivers every 12 months. This review must include obtaining a copy of the driver’s motor vehicle record (MVR) from the state in which the driver is licensed. The employer must then review the MVR to determine whether the driver meets the minimum requirements for safe driving and is not disqualified from operating a CMV.
CDL Driver Self-Certification
CDL drivers are also required to certify their driving records to their employers every 12 months. This certification must include a list of all moving violations that the driver has been convicted of in the past 12 months. The employer must then review the driver’s self-certification and compare it to the driver’s MVR.
Maintaining a Clean CDL Driving Record
The best way to avoid CDL disqualification is to maintain a clean driving record. This means following all traffic laws, avoiding accidents, and not driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. If you do receive a traffic violation, be sure to pay the ticket or contest it in court. A conviction for a traffic violation will add points to your driving record and could eventually lead to CDL disqualification.
Strategies for Improving Your Driving Habits
A clean driving record is a valuable asset for any truck driver, and improving your driving habits is a critical step in achieving this goal. Here are some practical strategies to enhance your driving skills and minimize the risk of future violations:
- Practice defensive driving techniques: Enroll in a defensive driving course to learn how to anticipate and avoid potentially hazardous situations on the road.
- Stay vigilant and avoid distractions: Eliminate distractions while driving, such as using your phone or operating the radio. Focus on the road and maintain a safe distance from other vehicles.
- Adhere to traffic rules and speed limits: Obey all traffic regulations and avoid speeding. Remember, safety should always be your top priority.
- Seek professional guidance: Consider seeking guidance from a driving instructor or experienced truck driver to refine your skills and address any specific areas of concern.
Finding CDL Jobs with a Bad Driving Record
While some trucking companies may have strict policies regarding driving records, there are many employers open to hiring drivers with a history of minor violations. Here are some tips for finding CDL jobs that are more accepting of less-than-perfect records:
- Network with experienced truck drivers and industry professionals: Attend industry events, join online forums, and connect with experienced truck drivers to gain insights into companies that are more open to hiring drivers with driving record challenges.
- Target smaller trucking companies: Smaller trucking companies may have more flexibility in their hiring policies and may be more willing to give you a chance.
- Be transparent and honest about your driving record: When applying for CDL jobs, be upfront about your driving history. Explain the circumstances surrounding any violations and demonstrate your commitment to safe driving.
- Highlight your strengths and experience: Showcase your skills, experience, and positive attributes to potential employers. Emphasize your ability to learn from past mistakes and your commitment to becoming a safe and reliable truck driver.
Additional Considerations for Success
As you navigate the CDL job search, keep these additional factors in mind:
- Obtain CDL endorsements: Expanding your CDL endorsements can open up more job opportunities and make you a more attractive candidate to potential employers.
- Maintain a clean driving record once employed: Once you land a CDL job, it’s crucial to maintain a clean driving record. This will demonstrate your commitment to safe driving practices and help you advance in your career.
- Seek professional guidance: Don’t hesitate to seek advice from experienced truck driving instructors or career counselors. They can provide valuable insights and support as you navigate your CDL journey.
While a bad driving record can present obstacles, it doesn’t have to derail your dream of becoming a successful truck driver. By understanding your driving history, implementing safe driving practices, and targeting companies that are more open to hiring drivers with less-than-perfect records, you can overcome these challenges and embark on a rewarding trucking career. Remember, perseverance, dedication, and a commitment to safety will be your guiding principles as you navigate the road to success.