If you have a CDL and have recently been arrested for a first-offense DUI, you may lose your CDL for 1 year. While this could jeopardize your career in the short-term, it doesn't necessarily mean you will need to find another career for the rest of your life.
Many carriers have strict guidelines to follow for their insurance coverage. Your chances of getting hired by a carrier will be better after 5 years. Your best bet may be to become an owner-operator when your CDL gets reinstated. Here's what you need to know.
What to do during the one year your CDL is suspended
Since your CDL will be suspended for 1 year, you may have no choice but to find another income source. Unfortunately, you won't be able to receive unemployment because your job loss was caused by your misconduct. Ask your current carrier if there are any loading jobs or freight management jobs you can do, or find another employer and career altogether during this time. Save as much money as possible during this year so you can purchase a used semi truck and become an owner-operator.
What you'll need to reinstate your CDL
Meet the requirements and criteria set forth by your state to have your CDL reinstated after the one year suspension period is up. Depending on your state's laws, this may include going to mandatory alcohol abuse classes, receiving DUI treatment, and installing an ignition interlock device in your personal vehicle.
You will need proof of insurance to reinstate your CDL. You can expect the insurance premiums to be higher than before your DUI. Be sure to discuss your wishes of becoming an owner-operator with your insurance company.
Starting your owner-operator business
With the money you save during your one-year CDL suspension, purchase a used semi truck to operate. There are many affordable options on the market. Some sellers offer in-house financing, similar to what you would find at a buy-here-pay-here used car lot.
Scour industry advertisements to look for clients who need your services. If you don't want to look for clients yourself, you can contract with several freight brokers in your region who need owner-operator drivers.
Fuel will be your largest expense. It's a good idea to keep a separate debit card for fuel expenses while you are on the road. That way, you won't have to rack up credit card debt. If you aren't good with keeping financial records, hire a trusted friend or family member to be your assistant or accountant. This can help keep your overhead costs down.
Avoid getting another DUI
It's crucial that you do not get another DUI on your driving record. If you don't trust yourself, have ignition interlock devices installed in all of your vehicles, including your semi truck. This is a device that is sometimes called a blow-and-go. You will have to blow into it before you can start your vehicle and at various intervals throughout your driving time, depending on settings of the device.
Since you will be voluntarily installing an ignition interlock device, you can ask the installation technician to adjust the frequency of how often the device will ask you to blow while you are driving.
Depending on your insurance company, you may be able to get a discount on your premium by telling them you volunteered to have an ignition interlock device in your semi truck and personal vehicle.
Being charged with a DUI may seem like your career will end. While you will not be able to drive during the mandatory one year suspension due to federal laws, you can drive again after your CDL is reinstated. Instead of searching high and low for a carrier to hire you, become an owner-operator. You can start preparing for this change by looking at semi trucks for sale.