Can I Get A CDL With A DUI In Texas?

Can I Get A CDL With A DUI In Texas? Before we answer the question, let’s define your need. The Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) is a special license designed for drivers who are responsible for: transporting 16 or more passengers -including the driver; operating a motor vehicle with a gross weight rating of 26,001 pounds, and transporting hazardous materials in large quantities. This document is resourceful to drivers who seek to get a better job in the future.

The state and the federal government may limit certain jobs to CDL holders and depending on the nature of the CDL (interstate or intrastate commerce). Getting a CDL in Texas comprises of several steps and requirement which are not different from the other states.

In most cases you may be required to pass all the knowledge and skill tests about the type of commercial motor vehicles (CMV) you will be working with or any vehicle that requires an endorsement. The second and most essential requirement is that you ought to have a good driving history to be considered as a suitable candidate for a (CDL) – this is the part where most people fail to satisfy. Do you think that you are eligible for a CDL if the State checks for your driving records for the last 10 years, in all 50 states?

After the amendment of the penalties for CDL holders in Texas, it will be very tough for drivers convicted of first, second or third DWI. Do not worry, you may still be eligible to apply for a CDL after the first conviction. Other limitations are such as DWI driver’s license suspension has to be lifted first before you can be able to apply for a CDL. You may also have to persevere a one year period of disqualification from getting a CDL- after a DWI conviction.

The bad and serious news: if you accumulate two or more DWIs within 3 years, then the consequences that follow are irreversible. This is to say that, a second or a third DWI conviction may disqualify you from ever being eligible for a CDL – it does not matter the type of vehicle used when the incident occurred.

According to the Texas Department of Public Safety, any person applying or in possession of a CLD may be disqualified from operating a commercial motor vehicle if he/she commits an offense or engages in conduct that would lead to the disqualification of a CDL.

DWI offence 1st 2nd
CDL suspension 1 year (min) Life (reinstated after 10 yrs.)

Convictions and penalties in relation to CDL

In the case that you received your first conviction from another state, no matter which vehicle you were driving, the same penalties apply. You are liable for a CDL disqualification if you violate the Texas Penal Code Title 10 (Chapter 49). Therefore, during the first conviction, you will be disqualified from driving a commercial motor vehicle for 1 year and for life if you are convicted of 2 or more violations. The suspension also applies to a violation committed while operating any motor vehicle.

A commercial driver’s license may be disqualified for 3 years if the owner is convicted of driving a commercial motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol or a controlled substance and at the same time transporting a hazardous material required to be placarded. This also applies when the driver refuses to submit to a chemical test or when an analysis of breath, blood, or urine has an alcohol concentration of 0.04, 0.08 or more. The CDL disqualification goes along with a driver leaving the scene of the accident or on the commission of a felony.

Life disqualification emerges when the person commits a combination of incidents or offences like driving a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol or a controlled substance; refusing to submit to a chemical test to determine the alcohol concentration or the presence drug or substances; and the results from the fluid matter and breathe test to determine BAC levels.

Hearing and contest of decisions

An occupational license allows a person to operate a commercial motor vehicle after a DWI arrest. In Texas, the Transportation Code, Section 522.086, prohibits the granting of CDL Occupational driver’s license or essential need to people who have been disqualified from operating a commercial motor vehicle. You will not be allowed to drive a commercial motor vehicle in Texas if your system has a measurable or detectable amount of alcohol.

You may be tempted to contest the CDL Suspension: this is allowed if you request a Texas DPS administrative hearing within 20 days upon receiving your suspension or request a hearing within 15 days if it was under the Administrative License Revocation (ALR) program. This can be done by completing an online hearing request form.

If your request is early, you will receive a hearing letter from the Texas DPS that includes details such as date, location, and time. When your hearing request is late, wait to receive a denial notice by mail. You can also appeal your hearing decision which is filed within the period of 30 days upon receiving your suspension or disqualification letter.

CDL reinstatement

At this point, the duration of your CDL disqualification and reinstatement requirements will vary, and it will depend on the nature of your offense. After serving your period of disqualification diligently, you can reinstate your Texas CDL by paying the reinstatement fees and submitting documents in accordance with what the Texas DPS website requests.

You might be successful in obtaining a CDL amidst your DWI records but chances are that you might not get a promising job since most promising companies are more reluctant in hiring drivers who are convicted of DWI. At times, the companies may be lenient especial if your DWI is over 10 years or more. Another consequence of getting a CDL in Texas with a DWI is that that you will have to pay higher insurance premiums.

Below are some of the DWI conditions or cases that may put you at risk when applying for a CDL. It is important, as a driver to know two or three about DWIs rules in Texas so that you can be able to know the conditions that relate to applying or owning a CDL. Do not be pessimistic about your situation looks for loopholes.

DWI in Texas

Where you are coming from, drunk driving may not be a critical issue emphasized in the traffic rules, but when you step into Texas expect tough rules like driving while intoxicated (DWI) are serious offences. According to US statistics in Texas, in every 20 minutes, someone is killed or hurt in an accident as a result of drinking while driving. Getting impaired is just easy, one to three beers in an hour is just enough to get you legally intoxicated.

According to Texas Penal Code Title 10 (Chapter 49), the level of intoxication for to operate a motor vehicle is determined by using your blood alcohol concentration (BAC). As you know, the effect of alcohol is proportional to body weight, gender and the number of drinks consumed. Due to these factors, it is better to use reliable charts and calculators, which take into account all variables, to determine your BAC score.

Here are some of the limits you ought to know when you drink and drive in Texas:

Driver Younger than 21 years old 21 years old or older Commercial drivers
BAC level Any detectable amount 0.08% 0.04%

However, there are other circumstances that relate to DWI crimes which include: being caught driving, parked or stopped on a public highway (adjacent to the boundary lines of any public road, street, highway, interstate, or other publicly maintained way) with an open container of alcohol in the passenger area or booth; alcohol concentration level of 0.15 or more discovered in the analysis of a specimen of the person’s blood, breath, or urine and driving while intoxicated with child passenger.


The penalties one can get in Texas are based on factors such as license type, age, and type of people being carried and the presence of an accident. The following are some of the common DWI penalties to  expect:

Offence Class Jail term Fine License suspension
Open container violation C misdemeanor 6 days (min) $500 (max) 90 days-180 days
DWI B misdemeanor 72 hours (min) $1000-$2000 For 180 days
DWI and open container B misdemeanor 6 days (min) Up to $2,000 90 days-1 year
DWI with child passenger State jail felony Up to 2 years Up to $10,000 For 180 days
Trial analysis Class A misdemeanor 72 hours- 1 year $4,000.00 max 180-2 years

All Texas drivers are subject to implied consent, so if law enforcement suspects you are impaired or otherwise drunk you cannot object refuse a chemical test. You will be arrested and persecuted if you are caught endangering a child of below 15 years when committing DWI.

If you refuse to take a chemical test, then you are committing an offense which grants you automatically criminal penalties. The Department of Public Safety will impose civil penalties (Administrative License Revocation (ALR)) if you failing or refusing a chemical test. Refusing to take a chemical test will result in a license suspension of 3 months to 2 years – automatically takes effect 40 days after your refusal if the administrative hearing request is not filed within a period of 15 days from the day of refusal.

Age Minors- younger than 21 years 21 years old or older Commercial Drivers
Offence 1st 1st 2nd 3rd 1st 2nd &3rd
License suspension Less than 1 year Up to 2 years 6 mo. – 2 years. 180 days to 2 years. 1 year Lifetime
Fine $500 Up to $2,000 Up to $4,000 Up to $10,000
Program 12 Hrs. 12 hrs. Education &32 hrs. intervention 12 hrs. Education &32 hrs. intervention 12 hrs. Education &32 hrs. intervention
Jail term 3-180 days 1mth -1 year 2-10 years

This is not enough, there are other penalties that come with conditions, and these include:

  • Fines and surcharges (court costs and lawyer fees).
  • License revocation.
  • Community service. 1st offense Imprisonment
  • More expensive car insurance
  • Car Insurance and Proof of Financial Responsibility

Probation agreement

The Texas Department of State Health Services is in charge of administering education and intervention programs. The education and intervention program courses (12 hours and 32 hours long respectively) have to be completed within 180 days of probation.

When you suspend a jail sentence- may also include driving license and fines- then you agree to a probation. During probation you will be required to:

  • Avoid committing any crime or associating with criminals
  • Report after 30 days to a probation officer
  • Be involved in specified number of community service (not less than 24 hours nor more than 100 hours)
  • Attend DWI education classes
  • Attend AA or other counseling programs
  • Reduce or abstain from consuming alcohol
  • Submit to a breath test upon request
  • Remain in the county jail unless permitted by the court
  • Pay your fees and costs (court, fine and probation)
  • Pay a monthly supervisory fee to the probation office
  • Maintain a job and support dependents
  • Terms of probation decided by judge or jury

Manslaughter and assault DWI

Extreme DWI offenses are intoxication manslaughter and intoxication assault. The intoxication assault applies to a driver that causes serious bodily injury to another- the risk of death or that cause’s serious permanent disfigurements, by mistake or accident, under intoxication; it is a felony of the 3rd degree. On the other hand intoxication manslaughter comes to effect is a person, operating a motor vehicle in a public place, causes the death of another by accident or mistake under intoxication- 2nd-degree felony.

Felony Intoxication assault Intoxication manslaughter
Fine $10,000.00 $10,000.00
Jail term 2-10 years 2-20 years
Community Service 160 hours- 600 hours 240 hours- 800 hours

There is no look-back period in Texas for these offenses, so your previous DWI will count as prior offenses. Texas also burns plea bargain for a conviction of “wet reckless” under DWI. If you are a habitual drinker, you may be ordered to install an ignition interlock device at your own expense to prevent future occurrence; this will help you when you want to be released on bond.

This does not mean that DWI alone may limit a driver to from obtaining a CDL. You should go through the Texas Transportation Code 522.081 and also visit Texas Department of Public safety website. You will be directed to the License Eligibility website, from where you will check your driver eligibility status.

Therefore, you risk freedom of driving and finances due to these strict laws when you fail to avoid DWI in Texas. When you are intoxicated you may also fail to produce your driver license, proof of insurance and vehicle registration; this may lead to other driving cases that add more penalties. There are also cases where drivers get arrested even if they have tested below the recommended BAC levels.

You may be lucky if you find a Texas DWI defense lawyer who can help you reduce some penalties associated with DWI such as getting the case against you dropped or dismissed by the state. In addition, your attorney should be able to reduce your conviction to a misdemeanor if it is a felony- helps reduce high costs and harsh punishments. Your major focus should be aimed at making sure that you are eligible for CDL by clearing all your negative driving records.

Unfortunately, you may be required to carry an SR 22 with you during your probation or disqualification period. Select Insurance Group identifies your need of a reliable and resourceful partner to help you obtain your CDL in Texas at ease. We are offering you benefits and quality services. We will handle your financial responsibility requests promptly and give you time to reinstate your CDL.

If you have questions, don’t hesitate to call: (855) 438-7353. One of our licensed agents will help you right away.