How to Handle an Expired CDL

May 24, 2022

How to Handle an Expired CDL

CDL licenses are valid between 5 and 8 years from the date of issue. You must have a yearly medical exam to keep your CDL from being downgraded. As a truck driver, it is critical to keep your CDL and any endorsements, like hazardous materials, current and valid. If you allow your Class A CDL to expire or lapse while you are on the road, you could face severe consequences. If you get pulled over and are found with an expired CDL, you could lose your CDL and no longer be eligible to drive semi-trucks. 

What happens if my CDL expires?

When your CDL expires without being renewed, you are no longer eligible to drive any commercial motor vehicles. If you drive with an expired license you can face fines and penalties and even potentially lose your CDL. Your employer may also have their own penalties in place if you do not keep your license current. Renew your commercial driver’s license on time to avoid these headaches. 

If your CDL is no longer valid because you failed to renew your medical certification, you must obtain a new medical examiner’s certificate and provide it to the Department of Transportation (DOT). If you require a variance, and that has expired, then you must renew it with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). Variances are essentially exemptions granted by the FMCSA for various medical conditions like diabetes, epilepsy, vision and hearing issues, etc. Like the medical examiner’s certification, these variances need to be kept up to date to keep your CDL current. 

How do I reinstate my commercial drivers license?

Reinstating an expired CDL depends on a few factors. How long has your license been expired? If the expiration date has not yet passed, you probably just need to do the CDL renewal process like you would do for a regular driver’s license. Check with your local Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to see if you can renew online or if you have to go in person. You’ll simply pay the renewal fee and present your current medical examiner’s certificate. It’s unlikely that you will need to take a written test or skills test.

If your license has been expired for more than 60 days (depending on your state), you may need to completely re-qualify for a CDL. This will mean getting a commercial learner’s permit (CLP), re-taking the written knowledge test and road test or skills test as well as paying for the application fees again. If you’ve been caught driving with an expired CDL, you may not be eligible to reinstate your license. Additionally, if you have certain serious infractions on your driving record, you may also be ineligible to get your CDL back. It is important to always keep your CDL current and to make sure your DOT medical card is also current. You won’t be able to work as a truck driver with an expired CDL.

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