Can a Truck Driver Keep Their CDL After Causing a Serious Accident?

Published on February 6, 2024, by gavlpublisher

Trucking Industry

Can a Truck Driver Keep Their CDL After Causing a Serious Accident?

When a large vehicle such as an 18-wheeler or other transport truck causes an accident, the results are often catastrophic for both the trucker and any other cars involved. When severe damage and injuries or even death occur as a result of the accident, we may wonder if the truck driver will have their commercial driver’s license (CDL) suspended or revoked or if no such penalty will happen.

The quick answer is: it depends.

Each truck crash is different, and CDL revocation depends on the details of the accident. If the truck driver is later proven to be under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or perhaps fell asleep at the wheel, or was distracted by their cellphone – all of this plays a part in what type of penalty the driver may incur.

So, what happens to a truck driver’s CDL status after they cause a serious accident like a T-bone crash?

We’ll explain what we found.

What Happens When a Trucker Causes a Wreck?

As with any other driver on the road, when a CDL driver causes an accident, the usual investigation will occur.  Police or emergency services may be called to the scene, the drivers involved and any witnesses will give statements, and police and accident reports may be made.

Additionally, the company the CDL driver works for and whatever insurance company they use generally perform their own investigation into the crash, especially if serious injuries or damage occurred.

Truck accident investigations aim to determine the cause of the accident and who should be held responsible. If the CDL driver is deemed not at fault, they will still have the accident on their driving record. However, if the CDL driver is found to be at fault for the accident, they may face severe legal penalties, lose their job, and may also lose their CDL.

It Affects Their Driving Record

While the penalties for causing a vehicle accident vary from state to state, most states hold to similar laws. Any driver who causes a wreck will have that accident on their driving record for a certain amount of time, usually three to five years, depending on the state in which the accident occurred.

The same applies to CDL drivers; however, they may lose their license if the circumstances of the accident dictate that type of penalty.

Trucking Companies Take Action

Most companies don’t want someone with any type of bad record working for them because of something called “vicarious liability,” which means that one party is liable for the actions of another party.

In the case of a CDL driver who incurs an accident on their driving record, the company they work for may fire them, and other trucking or transport companies may not want to hire them due to their record.

Loss of License

Most CDL drivers, just like most other drivers, generally cause accidents because of an honest mistake, such as not checking their mirrors thoroughly before making a lane change. But, when it is clear that a truck accident was caused by the negligence of the trucker, that’s when the risk of losing their CDL is highly likely.

Accidents which usually result in a loss of license involve CDL drivers who were:

  • Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, including prescription medications, may affect a CDL driver’s ability to stay awake and alert while driving
  • Leaving the scene of the accident either too soon or committing a hit-and-run offense
  • Failing to stop and render aid, especially if the CDL driver caused the accident
  • Driving at excessive speeds for the type of road, amount of traffic, or current weather conditions
  • Committing a crime with their truck, such as a hit-and-run or any other illegal action
  • Intentionally harming another driver with their truck, usually due to impatience or road rage

Seek Legal Assistance After a Serious Truck Accident

The bottom line is there is no clear yes or no answer as to whether a truck driver keeps their CDL after causing a serious accident. This determination is completely dependent on the type of accident that occurs and if negligence on the part of the truck driver can be proven.

We know that truck drivers work long hours, even with federal hours-of-service regulations in place that all truck drivers are legally required to abide by. They often push the limits of themselves and their vehicles to the point that an accident occurs.

But working long hours is no excuse for negligence, especially with the lives of other drivers on the line.

If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident involving a large truck, our truck accident lawyers at the Trucking Injury Law Group are here to help you pursue legal action to receive the compensation you deserve.