Certain drivers operating specific vehicles may need a special commercial license to legally operate the vehicle. In today’s blog, we review the different types of commercial driver’s licenses offered in West Virginia and disqualifying factors that may lead to a license revocation or suspension.
Who Needs a Commercial Driver’s License?
A commercial driver’s license (CDL) is required for the operation of any vehicle that is:
- 26,001 pounds or more,
- carries 16 or more passengers,
- buses school children, or
- transports hazardous materials.
Note that some vehicles, like RVs and personal transports, don’t require a CDL to operate. Also, firefighters and rescue personnel with an authorized emergency vehicle permit are exempt from CDL requirements. Farmers can drive not-for-hire commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) within 150 miles of the farm, but only for agriculture purposes. Off-road mining equipment can also be driven up to 500 feet on public roads.
Types of CDLs
Not all CDLs are the same, and West Virginia classifies three different types of CDLs:
- Class A CDL – required to operate a CMV weighing 26,001 or more pounds, including a trailer weighing more than 10,000 pounds
- Class B CDL – required when the CMV weighs 26,001 or more pounds but the trailer is less than 10,000 pounds
- Class C CDL – for CMVs that are 26,000 pounds or less but are still considered CMVS (such as hazmat vehicles and buses).
West Virginia also offers a seasonal CDL for custom harvesters and livestock feeders. This kind of seasonal CDL is valid for up to 180 days and can be used only for agriculture transport within 150 miles of the business. A written or skills test is not required, but the applicant must have a West Virginia driver’s license and clean driving history.
Disqualifying Factors for Holding a CDL
CMVs can be dangerous, so drivers who have certain convictions can face CDL disqualification. Drivers interested in obtaining a CDL must disclose all convictions and suspensions to the state and their employers. Note that even failing to appear for a citation can result in license disqualification.
A serious disqualifying factor for holding a CDL is any significant traffic violation. This might include:
- speeding 15 miles per hour or more over the limit,
- reckless driving,
- improper lane change,
- following too closely,
- texting while driving, and
- any traffic violation involving a fatality.
Having 2 serious traffic offenses in 3 years will result in a 90-day CDL disqualification, and a third violation within 3 years will lead to a 120-day disqualification. Driving without a CDL is also a serious traffic violation but will be dismissed if the driver presents a then-valid CDL at the time of the citation to the court. Note that a serious traffic violation committed in a non-CMV will only count if the violation resulted in suspension of the driver’s non-commercial driving privileges.
There are certain violations that can lead to a 1-year, 3-year, or lifetime revocation of a CDL. Such convictions could be:
- a DUI (driving under the influence),
- refusing a chemical test,
- DUI in a CMV,
- leaving the scene of an accident, or
- using a motor vehicle in the commission of a felony will receive a 1-year revocation.
Getting a DUI on a CDL
Keep in mind that a person operating a commercial vehicle can be charged with a DUI if their blood alcohol content (BAC) is at least .04% instead of the legal limit of .08% that applies to regular motorists.
If a commercial driver is convicted of a DUI, their CDL will be revoked for up to 1 year. For a second or a subsequent offense, a CDL will be revoked for life, though the driver may be eligible for reinstatement after 10 years, if they meet certain conditions. In the case of criminal penalties, a first DUI offense in West Virginia could lead to up to 6 months in jail, up to $500 in fines, and a 6-month driver’s license suspension. Even if a driver was arrested while driving a personal vehicle, their CDL status could still be seriously affected.
Note that if a commercial driver was transporting hazardous materials at the time of the arrest, the revocation period lasts up to 3 years. A driver will also receive a lifetime disqualification for using a CMV to transport controlled substances.
Let The Wagner Law Firm Help
If you have questions about obtaining a commercial driver’s license or how your CDL may be negatively affected by traffic offenses, contact West Virginia’s The Wagner Law Firm for experienced legal support. There are a number of disqualifying factors that could lead to a CDL revocation, and it is best to speak with an attorney about your CDL status and current or previous traffic violations to determine your future CDL eligibility.
Contact The Wagner Law Firm for legal guidance in your CDL case. Schedule a free case review today!