Commercial Driver or CDL Holder

Our attorneys defend you against civil traffic infractions and criminal traffic offenses so that your Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) is protected.

You’ve worked hard to become a professional driver. You’ve taken the training courses and passed the knowledge and skills tests. You’ve obtained one of three types of commercial driver’s licenses – Class A, B, and C – each one conferring on you the privilege and ability to earn a livelihood driving certain commercial motor vehicles, from combination tractor-trailers to tankers and school buses.

Your ability to make a living as a professional driver depends on keeping your CDL in good standing. And there are many things that can put it at risk. I am Baltimore trial attorney Jim Crawford, and since 1992 I have handled thousands of cases, including defending my clients’ commercial driver’s licenses.

If your CDL is on the line, contact me at 443-709-9999 for a free consultation.


Attorneys for a CDL Commercial Driver in Baltimore, Maryland

The experience I’ve gained as a criminal defense attorney is directly applicable to defending commercial driver’s licenses against temporary or permanent revocation. The standards for professional drivers might be higher than for ordinary drivers, but just because you’re a professional driver doesn’t mean that you should be disqualified.

For example, the legal blood-alcohol limit for ordinary drivers in Maryland is 0.08 percent, but professional drivers’ CDLs can be suspended for 0.04 percent – or completely revoked for repeat DUI offenses. Even a refusal to submit to a breath or blood test will result in the same consequences to your CDL.

But your CDL can be suspended or revoked for a lot more than drunk driving in Maryland. Your CDL can be suspended for the following citations and offenses:

  • DUI or DWI
  • Speeding
  • Reckless driving
  • Causing a serious accident
  • Violating out-of-service orders
  • Driving a type of vehicle that requires an endorsement (such as a school bus or HAZMAT tanker)

The overwhelming problem for professional drivers who are accused of CDL violations is that a commercial driver’s license can be revoked for life. Even a temporary suspension will impact the driver’s ability to run his or her business, earn an income, and stay employed.

Professional drivers, just like anyone else, deserve a fair hearing when facing accusations that threaten their livelihood. If your CDL is at risk, contact me at 443-709-9999 for a free consultation to discuss your options.


Information Center


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By signing a Maryland’s driver license application form, the driver enters you into an agreement with the State of Maryland. The agreement provides that if the driver is lawfully detained by a police officer who has legally sufficient cause to believe you are driving or attempting to drive under the influence of drugs or while intoxicated by alcohol, then you agree to submit to a chemical test of your blood, breath or urine to determine the presence of alcohol or drugs therein.

The amount of alcohol in your system is called the Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) test or the Breath Alcohol Concentration (BrAC) test.

By signing a Maryland’s driver license application form, the driver enters you into an agreement with the State of Maryland. The agreement provides that if the driver is lawfully detained by a police officer who has legally sufficient cause to believe you are driving or attempting to drive under the influence of drugs or while intoxicated by alcohol, then you agree to submit to a chemical test of your blood, breath or urine to determine the presence of alcohol or drugs therein.

The amount of alcohol in your system is called the Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) test or the Breath Alcohol Concentration (BrAC) test.

An alcohol concentration of 0.04% or more when driving a Commercial Motor Vehicle will result in the following consequences:

  • Disqualify you from driving a commercial motor vehicle for one year (three years if the vehicle was required to be placarded for HAZMAT) for the first offense; and
  • Disqualify you for life for a subsequent offense.

An alcohol concentration of 0.08% or more while operating on a commercial driver license, regardless of the vehicle type, in Maryland will result in the following consequences:

  • Disqualify you from driving a commercial motor vehicle for one year for the first offense, and;
  • Disqualify you for life for a subsequent offense.

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Under Maryland law, any person who drives or attempts to drive a motor vehicle on a highway or on any private property used by the public in general consents to take a test to determine alcohol concentration or a test to determine the concentration of a drug or a controlled dangerous substance.

Testing is free of charge to the driver and shall be a breath test to determine alcohol concentration unless the driver or other persons require medical treatment for serious or life-threatening injury or the test equipment is unavailable.

Under those circumstances, the officer is permitted to request a blood test. A test to determine drug or controlled dangerous substance content shall also be a blood test. A refusal to submit to take a test will result in the following consequences:

  • Disqualify you from driving a commercial motor vehicle for one year for the first offense; and;
  • Disqualify you for life for a subsequent offense.

CDL holders are also subject to driver disqualifications and penalties under Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulation 385.51. The Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA) works closely with The American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators (AAMVA) in testing procedures that meet Federal requirements.

Any individual who maintains a CDL is required to present a valid medical examiner’s certificate (DOT card) or appropriate intrastate or interstate waiver, during all MVA transactions. Additionally, the driver must do each of the following:

  • Notify their home state Motor Vehicle Administration of any convictions in other states.
  • Notify their employer of any convictions.
  • Notify their employer of any revocation, suspension, cancellation or disqualification.
  • Provide information to the Motor Vehicle Administration of previous State licenses (to include Washington, D.C.) held in the previous 10 years including previous addresses and license numbers.
  • Provide Medical Examiner’s Certi cate (DOT card) or Intrastate/Interstate Waiver during all MVA transactions.
  • Maintain only one driver’s license.

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The Impact of a DUI / DWI Conviction for CDL Holder

Effective September 30, 2005, any convictions for a moving violation will be viewed as a cause to disqualify a person from driving a commercial vehicle, regardless of whether the moving violation happened while the driver was driving a commercial vehicle, non-commercial vehicle or private vehicle.

It is important to realize that for a commercial driver and CDL holder, a Probation Before Judgment (PBJ) is considered a conviction, even for a first DUI or DWI arrest, under federal regulations and MD-TA § 16-803(d).


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Offenses that Cause a Loss of the CDL

Under Maryland law, it is illegal to operate a commercial motor vehicle (CMV) if your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is .04% or more. After a lawful detention, the operator of a CMV is deemed to have given consent to a lawful alcohol testing.

Convictions for some offenses will lead to a loss of the CDL for at least one year for a first offense including:

  • Driving a CMV with a blood alcohol concentration is .04% or higher;
  • Driving a CMV under the influence of alcohol.
  • Refusing to undergo blood alcohol testing.
  • Driving a CMV while under the influence of a controlled substance.
  • Leaving the scene of an accident involving a CMV.
  • Committing a felony involving the use of a CMV.
  • Driving a CMV when the CDL is suspended.
  • Causing a fatality through negligent operation of a CMV.

Additionally, a loss of the CDL will occur for at least three years if the offense occurs while the driver is operating a CMV that is placarded for hazardous materials. A second offense will result in losing the CDL for life. A CDL can also lose the CDL for life for committing any felony involving controlled substances.

The driver will be put out-of-service for 24 hours if the driver has any detectable amount of alcohol under .04%.


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Serious Traffic Offenses by a CDL Holder in Maryland

Certain types of serious traffic violations can lead to the loss of a CDL including:

  • excessive speeding (15 mph or more above the posted limit);
  • reckless driving;
  • improper or erratic lane changes;
  • following a vehicle too closely;
  • traffic offenses committed in a CMV in connection with fatal traffic accidents;
  • driving a CMV without obtaining a CDL or having a CDL in the driver’s possession; and
  • driving a CMV without the proper class of CDL and/or endorsements.

For those offenses, the driver will lose the CDL for the following time periods:

  • For at least 60 days if the driver commits two serious traffic violations within a three-year period involving a CMV;
  • For at least 120 days for three or more serious traffic violations within a three-year period involving a CMV.

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New Rules for Commercial Drivers’ Licenses in Maryland

Effective October 1, 2016, Chapter 158 (SB 0080) for Commercial Drivers’ Licenses change the rules for cancellations and downgrades under Maryland’s “Driving Privilege Preservation Act of 2016.”
The new law requires the MVA to cancel the commercial driver’s license of any individual who fails to submit to the Administration a current certificate of physical examination, as required by federal law (49 C.F.R. § 391.43 and § 391.45). The new law also permits the MVA to immediately reinstate the noncommercial driving privilege of, and, under certain circumstances, issue a noncommercial driver’s license (Class C) to, an individual whose commercial driver’s license is canceled solely for failure to submit the required certificate of physical examination.
The new law will help commercial driver’s license holders by preserving their non-commercial driving privileges while they regain their commercial driving privilege following a cancellation for failure to submit the required medical certificate.