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Can I Get a Trucking Job With a Felony Record?

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No one is perfect. We all make mistakes in life. Unfortunately, some of these mistakes are big and have long-reaching consequences. For those who have made bigger mistakes, especially for those with a felony record, moving past those mistakes can seem like an almost insurmountable task.

Because trucking is a highly regulated industry, skeletons from the past, like a criminal record, tend to make their way out of those hidden closets.

In trucking, one bad decision can have a fairly significant impact on your career, both in the short and long term. We get a lot of questions on how the trucking industry in general, and K&J in particular, handles background checks and felony records. Keep reading for more information (and a little hope!).

I Have a Warrant Out, Should I Be Concerned?

If you have an outstanding warrantyes, even a tiny unpaid parking violation in a passenger vehicleyou need to get the warrant cleared before applying for a CDL. Remember, even if outstanding tickets or traffic violations don't affect your ability to get a CDL, they could still affect your ability to secure employment. Many trucking companies look at all of your past violations when considering you for employment. When in doubt, it is always best to clear your record of the little things before they become the big things.

What Should I Know About the DMV Criminal Background Checks?

For those looking to get a CDL with a prior felony conviction, don't be discouraged. In most cases, when you apply for a CDL with your state DMV they will run a background check to ensure you don't have a record that would prohibit you from getting the license. Most arrest records and even some felony convictions do not prohibit you from getting a CDL, but it is always best to check the laws in your state for specifics.

If you already had your CDL when you committed the felony, or if the felony was committed in or with a commercial vehicle, there may be more restrictions on your ability to continue as a driver.

Can I Be Barred From Holding a CDL for Life?

There are several felony convictions that can bar you from commercial driving for life. But please note, "for life" means different things to different states and in different situations, so do your research on the state and federal level.

Each state has a slightly different approach to CDL revocation. If you are unsure about the status of your CDL, check with your DMV for more information. The following convictions (and this is not necessarily an exhaustive list) can result in a CDL revocation at the federal level:

  • Any felony conviction involving a commercial vehicle
  • Manslaughter (1st or 2nd degree) with a motor vehicle
  • Gross misconduct with a motor vehicle
  • Causing a fatality through negligent/reckless vehicle operation
  • Operating a vehicle with a BAC of .08% or higher
  • Extortion
  • Bribery
  • Smuggling
  • Kidnapping
  • Interstate drug trafficking
  • Grand theft auto
  • Assault with intent to murder
  • Felony reckless driving
  • Treason
  • Arson

Can I Renew My CDL with a DUI on my Record?

The best answer we can give is... it depends. If you have a blood alcohol level of .04% or higher while operating a commercial vehicle, you might be disqualified from renewing your license depending on the situation. If your blood alcohol level is .08% or higher while operating any vehicle, you might not be able to get or renew a CDL. DUIs are particularly difficult in the trucking industry, for obvious reasons.

Our outlook is to look more at the character and progress we see in the person rather than just the record. This is one of the reasons we really try to get to know each of our potential drivers to see if K&J is the right fit. We love to give second chances when we feel sure that drivers are ready. There are a few things you can do to help ensure employers that you are on the road to self improvement. We will discuss this more below.   

Should I Mention My Conviction When I Apply at K&J?

Absolutely. Convictions usually don't scare us nearly as much as liars. The background checks we run in this industry are quite extensive, so if you have a suspicion something might be on your record, just tell us about it! If a conviction comes up on your background check and you never mentioned it, this is a major red flag for us. What other skeletons are you hiding?

Do research to find upstanding companies that take the time to get to know potential employees. Talk to other drivers and ask them their advice. And when you meet with the trucking company, be honest about your past. Share what you've learned from your mistakes and then let your new life speak for itself.

When it comes to overcoming a past conviction, the only thing that works is time and obvious self-improvement. Lip service is cheap. We want to see that you have changed, both in your actions and in your history. For most trucking companies you will need to have a clean record for 5-7 years before returning to trucking. Use that time wisely. So show a steady employment history of some length before reapplying to jobs. 

These aren't just arbitrary rules, these are things that are required of us because we occasionally deliver to places where drivers are screened before entering the facilities, such as military bases, penitentiaries, and high-security facilities to name a few. 


Do you have a conviction in your past that is putting a cloud over your job search? Don't despair! If you want to start in trucking, or start over, and you get the all clear from the state and federal level then do your best to rebuild your work history. If you want more tips on getting those ideal trucking jobs, click here!

Ready for a new start? We might be able to help! Click below to start the conversation.

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