A Commercial Drivers License, often referred to as a CDL, puts the holder under a much higher level of scrutiny than other drivers. That’s why getting a CDL violation can be such a big deal for those who depend on the license for their livelihoods.
Here’s what you need to know about CDLs in Illinois, including who needs one, what could stop someone from getting a CDL, and what violations of a CDL license could mean. There are also a few tips for handling CDL violations successfully. Read on to find out all you need to know.
Who Needs a CDL in Illinois?
Anyone who wants to drive a commercial vehicle is required to apply for a Commercial Drivers License in Illinois. Commercial vehicles are vehicles such as school buses, trucks, and tankers.
In our state, CDLs are divided up into different classes. Each of these classes has its own endorsements. The different classes are Class A, Class B, Class C, and Class D, and each is related directly to the gross vehicle weight rating of the vehicle that is driven, as well as to the weight of vehicles that must be towed.
If you want to drive a specific vehicle, then you need specific endorsements on your CDL. In Illinois, some of these endorsements include:
- Air Brakes
- Charter Bus
- School Bus
- Hazardous materials
- Combination vehicle
Requirements to Get a CDL in Illinois
If you want to obtain a CDL in Illinois, then you must meet certain criteria. You should:
- Be at least 18 years old if you intend to drive in state, 21 years old if you intend to drive out of state or transport passengers
- Be able to provide legal proof of residence
- Have a valid non-CDL license
There is also a physical requirement for getting a CDL in Illinois. You must, along with your doctor, prove you can physically handle driving a commercial vehicle. Your doctor will fill out a Medical Examination Report to certify your ability.
In Illinois, you also must pay fees to obtain your CDL and pass a written and skills exam.
There are two types of moving violations a CDL holder can get. The initial type is referred to as a major moving violation, while the second is referred to as a serious traffic offense.
Illinois abides by federal laws when it comes to major moving violations in connection with a CDL. These violations can lead to an automatic disqualification of someone to operate a commercial vehicle for up to one year. A second major moving violation can lead to a lifetime suspension.
Examples of major moving violations include:
- Operating a vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol
- Departing the scene of an accident
- Driving with a revoked, suspended, or canceled CDL
- Refusing a urine, blood, or breath test under Illinois Implied Consent laws
- Operating the vehicle while perpetrating a felony
- Operating a vehicle with a blood-alcohol level of 0.04 or higher
Serious traffic offenses can lead to a CDL being disqualified. However, they are different from major moving violations in that a CDL holder must accrue several of these offenses over a certain time period before their license is disqualified.
Examples of serious traffic offenses include:
- Improper passing
- Disregarding lane control devices
- Following another vehicle too closely
- Reckless driving
- Going more than 15 miles per hour over the posted speed limit
- Failure to reduce speed in order to avoid an accident
Whether it’s a major moving violation or a serious traffic offense, you must be convicted of it before it will count against your license.
How to Successfully Handle a Violation
You need help from an experienced attorney to ensure you are not found guilty of a violation that could count against your CDL.
The best way to avoid this situation is not to violate the law or rules of your CDL in the first place. Unfortunately, if you’ve already received a violation, you need to take it very seriously.
The good news? You can challenge the tickets you receive. You do not want to accept supervision because, when it comes to your CDL, that’s as good as a conviction.
To fight your ticket, you’ll first need to enter a not guilty plea in court. After that, your attorney can help to gather evidence and make your case against the violation. Your attorney will then present your case in court.
If you are a CDL holder, don’t simply accept a ticket that leads to a license suspension. Instead, make sure to fight it in court so that you can keep your livelihood intact.
About the Author
Sami Azhari has been working as a lawyer since 2007, after receiving his Juris Doctor from the Michigan State University College of Law. He has handled numerous state and federal cases, and is known throughout the Chicago and Rolling Meadows area for providing his clients with high-quality, skilled representation. He has been recognized by Avvo (2013 and 2018), SuperLawyers (2015-2020), The National Trial Lawyers, and other notable organizations, and has spoken at a number of legal conferences.