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How to Reinstate a Suspended CDL in Illinois

The Illinois Secretary of State (SOS) follows strict federal guidelines that govern commercial drivers in the state. You can lose your commercial driving privileges in Illinois through a suspension or revocation of your CDL. This punishment can be particularly damaging for CDL carriers, as most rely on their license for work. 

In the following article, we will cover the reasons your CDL can be disqualified, the ways that you can contest a disqualification of your license, and the steps that are usually required to reinstate a suspended CDL in Illinois. 

If you have lost your CDL, you may need legal advice to understand the ins and outs of getting it reinstated. The defense attorneys at DUI Lawyers 24/7 are available to answer your questions and help guide you on the best path toward regaining your license and moving forward. Contact us today to find out how we can help!

About Your Suspended Illinois CDL

The rules governing CDL suspensions can differ greatly from those that cover standard driver's licenses. The offenses that can lead to CDL disqualifications are typically broken down into the following categories:

  • Major offenses
  • Serious traffic violations
  • Railroad-highway grade crossing offenses
  • Violating out-of-service orders

Commercial drivers are required to report any suspension, revocation, cancellation, or disqualification of driving privileges to their employer within 1 day of receiving their notice from the Secretary of State. 

Major Offenses

Illinois and federal law classify the following as major offenses:

  • Driving with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.04% or greater
  • Violating implied consent laws by refusing a blood or breath test
  • Leaving an accident scene
  • Using a commercial vehicle to commit a felony
  • Causing a death due to negligence in operating the commercial motor vehicle
  • Operating a commercial vehicle without the proper license

Major offenses will result in 3 years of disqualification if transporting hazardous materials. DUI offenders may be eligible for a reinstatement of their CDL after 10 years, so long as they complete an approved alcohol program. 

Your CDL may be disqualified due to major violations whether you are operating a commercial or non-commercial vehicle at the time of the violation. 

Major CDL violations - infographic

Serious Traffic Violations

Illinois considers the following to be serious traffic violations:

  • Reckless driving or excessive speeding
  • Improperly changing lanes
  • Following vehicles too closely
  • Causing a fatal accident by violating a motor vehicle traffic control law other than a parking violation
  • Operating a commercial motor vehicle without a CDL, without a CDL on your person, or without the proper CDL endorsements

Your CDL will be disqualified for serious violations under the following conditions:

  • 60 day suspension for your 2nd violation within 3 years
  • 120 day suspension for your 3rd violation within 3 years

Your CDL can be disqualified while you are operating a commercial vehicle or while you are operating a non-commercial vehicle as long as the violation would result in a disqualification while you were operating a commercial vehicle. 

Railroad Crossing Violations

Railroad crossing violations while operating a commercial vehicle include, but are not limited to:

  • Failing to slow down and verify the tracks are clear
  • Failing to stop when required
  • Crossing tracks when there is not enough room for your CMV

Railroad crossing violations carry the following CDL disqualification terms:

  • 1st violation: Minimum of 60 day suspension
  • 2nd violation within 3 years: Minimum of 120 day suspension
  • 3rd violation or any subsequent violations within 3 years: Minimum of 1 year suspension

Out-of-Service Violations

If you violate an out-of-service order while transporting hazardous materials, you may face the following disqualification terms:

  • 1st violation: Between 180 days and 2 years suspension
  • 2nd violation within 10 years: 3 – 5 years suspension

If you violate an out-of-service order while transporting non-hazardous materials, you may face the following disqualification periods:

  • 1st violation: Between 180 days and 1 year suspension
  • 2nd violation within 10 years: 2 – 5 years suspension
  • 3rd violation: 3 – 5 years suspension

Furthermore, your CDL may be disqualified for any alcohol-related offenses that apply to a standard driver's license while driving a non-commercial vehicle. CDL carriers are expected to follow more stringent rules while operating a commercial vehicle and may have their commercial license revoked if they:

Related Content: How a Traffic Lawyer Can Help You

CDL Suspension Hearings and Appeals

You have will typically have the opportunity to contest the suspension of your driver's license through an administrative hearing with the Secretary of State. This is most common with DUI-related suspensions. 

In order to contest a DUI-related disqualification of your CDL, you are required to complete a 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 86).

In order to contest a DUI-related disqualification of your CDL due to an offense that occurred while you were driving a commercial motor vehicle, you must complete and submit a 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). 

A CDL holder standing next to a truck

You can mail your form to one of the hearing offices listed at the bottom of the page with the necessary application fee in the form of a check, money order, or credit card information. 

This hearing is entirely administrative, meaning you cannot fight any court convictions through the Secretary of State. If your license suspension comes from a court decision, you will have to fight it through the court system. 

When filing an appeal to fight your license suspension through either the Secretary of State or the Illinois traffic court system, you will likely want an experienced Kane County traffic attorney. They will know the rules and information you will need to understand and follow through with your driver's license reinstatement, and will be able to provide you with the best advice and guidance to get it done as quickly as possible. 

Does One License Suspension Affect Another?

CDL holders are often unsure if they will keep their class D license when their commercial license is suspended or vice versa. Commercial drivers are held to a higher standard than others, due to the level of training and practice they receive, as well as the heightened responsibility they have on the road. If you receive a DUI or other driving violation, it can impact the status of your CDL. As examples:

  • If you lose your base license due to a DUI citation, you will also lose your CDL for a year.
  • If your CDL is suspended or revoke, you may apply to keep limited driving privileges for a non-commercial vehicle under certain circumstances. 

Related Content: What to do After a DUI in Illinois

If You Need to Reinstate a Suspended CDL in Illinois, Call Our Firm

If your CDL has been disqualified in Illinois, you are required to wait until you are eligible to re-qualify for one before getting it reinstated. Disqualification times can range from 60 days to a lifetime disqualification depending on the offense that led to the loss. 

Commercial license disqualifications due to a DUI-related offense may be downgraded to a 10-year disqualification if you complete an approved alcohol rehabilitation program. 

If you decide to fight your commercial license revocation or need assistance understanding the legal process you need to take to get your license reinstated, you should hire a qualified Illinois attorney. There are a variety of traffic violations that can lead to a period of license suspension or revocation for CDL holders, and each can carry different consequences based on their severity and your own driving history. Additionally, the status of your regular license may be impacted by a violation that leads to a CDL disqualification.

Our experienced traffic lawyers in Kane County, Lake County, and McHenry County are ready to answer any of your legal questions, help you proceed through the steps needed to get your license reinstated, or prepare for your formal hearing with the Secretary of State or courtroom hearing. Contact us today at (847) 999-7616 to schedule an appointment for a free initial consultation. 

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