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Commercial Driver License (CDL) Suspension in Illinois
The Illinois Secretary of State (SOS) closely follows federal guidelines to govern its commercial drivers. Your commercial driving privileges in Illinois can be taken away through disqualification of your CDL.
Since most CDL carriers rely on their license for work, CDL disqualifications can be devastating.
Read below to learn about why your CDL may be disqualified, how to contest a disqualification, and the steps typically involved in reinstating your CDL.
Rules for CDL suspensions can differ from standard driver’s license rules, with most regulations being harsher for commercial drivers.
Offenses leading to CDL disqualifications are categorized into the following:
- Major offenses.
- Serious traffic violations.
- Railroad-highway grade crossing offenses.
- Violating out-of-service orders.
If you are a commercial driver, you must report any suspension, revocation, cancellation, or disqualification of any driving privileges to your employer within 1 day of your notification from the SOS.
Under IL and federal law, the following are considered major offenses:
- Alcohol- and drug-related offenses, including:
- Driving with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.04%.
- Violating implied consent laws by refusing a breath or blood test.
- Leaving the scene of an accident.
- Using the CMV to commit a felony.
- Causing a death because of negligent CMV operation.
- Operating a CMV without a valid CDL (e.g., if your CDL is disqualified, suspended, or revoked).
Major offenses will result in the following disqualification terms:
- 1st violation: 1 year.
- 3 years if transporting hazardous materials.
- 2nd violation: Life.
- DUI offenders may be eligible for CDL reinstatement after 10 years, pending the completion of a state-approved alcohol program.
Remember, your CDL can be disqualified for major violations, whether you are operating a commercial motor vehicle (CMV) OR a non-commercial vehicle at the time.
Serious Traffic Violations
Illinois lists the following as serious traffic violations:
- Excessive speeding or reckless driving.
- Making improper lane changes.
- Following vehicles too closely.
- Causing a fatal accident by violating any motor vehicle traffic control law (other than a parking violation).
- Operating a CMV without a CDL, without a CDL on your person, or without the proper CDL endorsements.
For serious violations, your CDL will be disqualified after your:
- 2nd violation within 3 years: For 60 days.
- 3rd violation within 3 years: For 120 days.
Your CDL can be disqualified for serious violations while driving a non-CMV only if that violation would result in a disqualification while you were operating a CMV.
Railroad Crossing Violations
Railroad Highway Grade Crossing (RRHGC) violations are offenses related to the way you operate your CMV when crossing a railroad.
RRHGC violations include, but are not limited to:
- Failing to slow down and check that the tracks are clear.
- Failing to stop when you’re required.
- Driving across the tracks when there’s not enough room for your CMV.
You face the following CDL disqualification penalties for RRHGC violations:
- 1st violation: Minimum of 60 days.
- 2nd violation within 3 years: Minimum of 120 days.
- 3rd violation and any subsequent violations within 3 years: Minimum of 1 year.
Out-of-Service Order (OOSO) violations are divided into Category 1 and Category 2 offenses.
If you violate an OOSO while transporting hazardous materials, you are subject to the following disqualification terms:
- 1st violation: Between 180 days and 2 years.
- 2nd violation within 10 years: 3 – 5 years.
If you violate an out-of-service order while transporting non-hazardous materials, you can face the following disqualification periods:
- 1st violation: Between 180 days and 1 year.
- 2nd violation within 10 years: 2 – 5 years.
- 3rd violation: 3 – 5 years.
Your CDL will be disqualified for any alcohol-related offenses outlined for standard driver’s license suspensions in Illinois while driving a non-commercial vehicle.
Additionally, CDL carriers must adhere to stricter rules while operating a commercial vehicle. Your CDL will be disqualified if you:
- Test for blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) over the CDL legal limit of 0.04%, regardless of a criminal court conviction.
- Refuse a test to determine your BAC.
- Are criminally convicted for DUI.
The SOS gives you the opportunity to contest nearly all types of common driver’s license suspensions with an administrative hearing with the SOS.
The most common cases the SOS will hear involve DUI-related suspension.
If you wish to contest a DUI-related disqualification of your CDL you must complete and submit one of the following forms:
- Petition to Contest a CDL Disqualification Based Upon a Refusal, Failure to Complete or Failure to Pass a Chemical Test(s) Allegedly While Operating a Commercial Motor Vehicle (form DAH H 78).
- To request a hearing to contest a DUI-related disqualification due to an offense that occurred while you were driving a commercial vehicle.
- Petition to Contest a CDL Disqualification Based Upon a DUI Arrest and a Refusal, Failure to Complete a Chemical Test(s) While Operating a Non-Commercial Motor Vehicle (form DAH H 85).
- To request a hearing to contest a DUI-related disqualification due to an offense that occurred while you were driving a non-commercial vehicle.
You can mail your completed form to one of the hearing office locations listed on the bottom of the form, along with payment for the $50 fee.
Acceptable forms of payment include:
- Check or money order payable to “Secretary of State”.
- Major credit card.
NOTE: You cannot contest any court convictions through the SOS. To appeal a decision by the court that leads to a license suspension, you must do so through the court system.
If appealing a decision with the court, you may consider hiring an attorney to help you through the process.Contact a Local Attorney
Find an attorney near you to help you get your Illinois CDL back on track.
In order to reinstate your CDL after a disqualification, you must wait until you are eligible to re-qualify for a CDL. Commercial license disqualifications in Illinois range from 60 days to life depending on your offense.
If you have been given a lifetime disqualification due to DUI-related offenses, you may be able to regain your CDL qualifications after 10 years if you complete a state-approved rehabilitation program.
Once you’re eligible, follow the required steps for reinstatement. Generally, CDL reinstatement involves:
- Meeting any special requirements, e.g., alcohol counseling or traffic school.
- Paying the reinstatement fee, plus all related fines.
To learn more about your specific set of required steps, contact your local IL SOS office.