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Commercial Driver License (CDL) Suspensions in Iowa
When it comes to CDL suspensions, the Iowa Department of Transportation (DOT) follows the federal guidelines for commercial drivers.
These federal CDL standards are generally more stringent than those laid out for non-commercial drivers. For example, the blood alcohol limit is lower for commercial drivers.
Read more to learn about CDL suspensions, reinstatement, and fees in IA.
Your CDL privileges are most commonly disqualified due to violations in the following categories:
- Major offenses (including alcohol-related offenses).
- Serious offenses.
- Railroad crossing violations.
- Out-of-service offenses.
NOTE: You must notify your employer AND your vehicle licensing agency within 30 days of a conviction for any traffic violations (with the exception of parking violation), regardless of whether you were driving a commercial motor vehicle or a non-CMV.
You also must notify your employer within 2 business days if your license was suspended, revoked, or canceled (or if your driving privileges were disqualified).
Alcohol-Related and Other Major Offenses
Unless otherwise noted, convictions of the following offenses will result in CDL disqualifications in Iowa, even if you were operating your personal vehicle at the time:
- OWI (or DUI).
- The legal limit for blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is 0.04%
- Refusal to test for BAC will also result in disqualification.
- You will be disqualified, regardless of a court conviction, for the above.
- Operating under the influence of a controlled substance.
- Failure to stop after an accident.
- Causing a fatality during the operation of a CMV.
- Committing a felony while operating a CMV.
- A felony for the use of a CMV in the transportation of controlled substances will result in an automatic and irreversible lifetime disqualification.
- Driving a CMV with a suspended CDL.
- If you are found to be driving when your CDL is suspended, you will be subject to criminal penalties, including fines and jail time.
- Employers who allow their drivers to operate with suspended CDLs are subject to the same penalties.
For most of these offenses your CDL will be disqualified for the following terms:
- 1 year upon your 1st violation.
- 3 years if carrying hazardous materials at the time.
- Lifetime disqualification upon your 2nd violation.
If you are caught driving with a traceable amount of alcohol in your blood, even while below the legal limit, you will be given an out–of-service order for 24 hours.
If you commit a serious violation, your Iowa CDL won’t be suspended right away. However, if you commit another violation in 3 years, you will lose your CDL privileges.
Serious violations in Iowa include:
- Excessive speeding.
- Reckless driving.
- Illegal passing.
- Improper or erratic lane changing.
- Following too closely.
- Violations relating to the use of a CMV resulting in fatality.
You face the following disqualification terms for serious offenses accumulated within 3 years:
- 60 days upon your 2nd offense.
- 120 days upon your 3rd offense.
Railroad Highway Grade Crossing Offenses
Iowa railroad highway grade crossing (RRHGC) violations include failure to:
- Slow down to check that the tracks are clear.
- Stop when tracks are not clear.
- Stop before driving onto a crossing.
- Obey a traffic control device or officer.
- Ensure undercarriage clearance.
You face the following CDL disqualification penalties* for RRHGC violations:
- 1st violation: 60 days.
- 2nd violation within 3 years: 120 days.
- 3rd violation and any subsequent violations within 3 years: 1 year.
* Disqualification periods listed are minimums.
Violating an out-of-service order will result in CDL disqualification. Offenses committed in the period of 10 years will result in the following disqualification periods of at least:
- 90 days upon your 1st offense.
- 1 year upon your 2nd offense.
- 4 years upon your 3rd offense.
Violations in Your Personal Vehicle
If your driver’s license is suspended, revoked, or cancelled due to violating a traffic control law (other than a parking violation) related to the operation of your personal vehicle, your Iowa CDL will subsequently be disqualified.
Check Your License Status
Because your CDL is so essential to your career if you drive for a living, it is always a good idea to keep up with your license status. You can do so by ordering and checking your Iowa driving record.
Your driving record is a history that includes your license status, traffic violations, accidents, and more.
You may be eligible to contest your CDL disqualification with an administrative hearing with the Iowa Department of Transportation.
The DOT will send you a notice when your driver’s license is suspended. On the notice, you will be informed of your eligibility, and you will be given a deadline to request a hearing.
To request a hearing, complete a Request to Appeal Loss of Driving/Registration Privileges (Form 432034) and submit it via one of the following methods:
- By mail:
Office of Driver Services
Iowa Department of Transportation
P.O. Box 9204
Des Moines, IA 50306-9204
- By fax at (515) 239-1837.
- In person at a DOT driver’s license office.
Each type of license suspension or revocation comes with its own set of requirements you must fulfill in order to reinstate your Iowa commercial driver’s license.
The Iowa DOT allows you to check your reinstatement requirements online.
Common reinstatement requirements involve:
- Paying any fines associated with your offense.
- Paying a reinstatement fee (see below).
- Providing proof of IA auto insurance.
- Applying for a new license and taking any related tests, if required.
You may also request your reinstatement requirements at any DOT office.
You may need to pay a reinstatement fee as part of your Iowa CDL reinstatement requirements.
Fees are separate from any fines related to a conviction; therefore, you may need to pay additional penalties to your court.
Contact the DOT at (515) 239-1101 or check your requirements online for more information.