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CDL License Disqualification vs. Suspension: Key Differences and Consequences


For commercial truck drivers, their CDLs are their livelihood. Without them, they can’t drive for work — and this means they can’t earn a living. There are various ways that truckers can lose their license, but it typically comes down to either disqualification or suspension. So, what are the differences between these penalties — and can truck drivers avoid them?

This is a complex question that requires an in-depth knowledge of the law. This is why you may benefit from speaking with an attorney. Regardless of whether you’re facing a CDL license disqualification vs suspension, the outcome can be disastrous. You need a legal advocate representing your best interests.

Differences Between CDL License Disqualification and Suspension

You’ll often hear the terms suspension, revocation, and disqualification for CDL licenses used interchangeably. This is understandable since these labels describe very similar situations. If you’re facing the loss of your commercial license in Massachusetts, though, it’s likely the terms disqualification and suspension that you’re worried about.

As it turns out, there are slight differences between these two outcomes. Although they both denote the loss of your license, the timeframe they represent differs. While a suspension is typically temporary, a disqualification can be permanent. A suspension can last as little as 60 days for traffic offenses that do not meet a certain level of criminality.

This usually isn’t the case for disqualifications. You can look at the difference between CDL suspensions vs disqualifications just like you would misdemeanors vs felonies. While neither is particularly great, felonies and disqualifications have ramifications that can last must longer. Either way, you should consider speaking with a Massachusetts OUI lawyer.

What Can Lead to the Loss of Your CDL License in Massachusetts?

It’s important to note that CDL disqualifications will not always be permanent. In most cases, more than one disqualification will be necessary before the loss of licensure becomes permanent. However, these can add up quickly if you’re not careful. That’s because there are several infractions and criminal acts that can result in a CDL suspension or disqualification.

These include:

  • Excessive speeding
  • Erratic lane changes
  • Reckless driving
  • Out-of-service orders
  • Failure to adhere to railroad crossing rules
  • Chemical test failure or refusal
  • OUI conviction
  • Leaving the scene of an accident
  • Using a vehicle during the commission of a felony

Keep in mind that it’s not necessary for all these actions to be committed behind the wheel of a tractor-trailer. There are certain matters — such as convictions for operating under the influence (OUI) — that can result in a suspended CDL even if they occur in a passenger vehicle. Clearly, commercial driver’s license suspensions and disqualifications can be incredibly complex.

What Are the Consequences of CDL Disqualification or Suspension?

We can compare CDL license disqualifications vs suspensions all day, but in reality, the outcome is very similar. Either will result in the loss of your commercial driver’s license. This is a detrimental outcome on its own, but few people recognize just how many additional consequences are possible. Consider the following:

  • Loss of income: This consequence is fairly obvious considering a loss of license means an inability to drive.
  • Further charges: If you’re caught driving a commercial vehicle on a suspended or disqualified license, you can face additional punitive actions.
  • Inability to work: Even if you get your CDL license back after time passes, having a suspension on your record can make it difficult to secure employment.
  • Increased insurance: Higher insurance premiums mean independent truckers will lose money, and companies might hesitate to increase their own costs.
  • General stress: The loss of a job leads to heightened general stress. Even worse, it often results in marital and parental issues.

These consequences can prove disastrous. That’s why it’s important to avoid them at all costs. Whether you’re facing CDL license suspension or disqualification, you should do everything possible to fight back. Consider speaking with a Boston OUI attorney. They may be able to help you avoid penalties that could derail your life.

Can You Get a CDL Hardship License in Massachusetts?

If you’ve already lost your commercial driver’s license, you may be wondering if you can get a CDL hardship license in Massachusetts. Unfortunately, the answer to this question is no. The federal government will not allow this. However, it is possible to get a Class D hardship license. This will allow you to continue driving a passenger vehicle in certain circumstances.

While a CDL hardship license isn’t possible, truckers can typically have their licenses reinstated at some point. In fact, most lifetime disqualifications can actually be vacated after 10 years. Due to recent revelations that police misconduct could have resulted in 27,000 wrongful OUI convictions in Massachusetts, it’s also possible that a revocation could be overturned.

Yes, CDL license suspensions and disqualifications are very serious — but having a legal professional on your side can prove invaluable. Contact us today at The Law Office of Brian Simoneau by calling (508)-625-5776. We’re here to help.

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