What is the Penalty for Driving a Commercial Vehicle Without a CDL?

Updated on 06/15/2022 / Under

The defense attorneys at Ktenas Law represent commercial motor vehicle operators and trucking companies facing traffic violation offenses in Illinois. Drivers holding commercial licenses are subject to severe driver's license consequences than regular license holders. Since traffic tickets issued to commercial driver license holders must be handled delicately, hiring an experienced Illinois CDL traffic lawyer is crucial. Driving a commercial vehicle without a CDL can lead to extensive issues.

Requesting traffic school or mailing in payment for your traffic citation can be a costly mistake because it will result in the entry of a conviction on your driving record. Traffic convictions on certain driving offenses can endanger your insurance rates, employment, and your commercial driving privilege, resulting in temporary or even lifetime disqualification or suspension. If you’re facing a CDL traffic violation in Illinois, the experienced criminal defense attorneys at Ktenas Law can help you beat your charges. To schedule a free initial consultation, contact our Cook County law offices today at (312) 756-8652

What are the CDL Convictions for Driving a Commercial Vehicle Without a License?

  • Driving on a suspended commercial driver license or without a commercial driver's license, incurs a civil penalty of up to $2,500 or, in aggravated incidents, criminal penalties of up to $5,000 in fines and 90 days in prison.
  • A CDL conviction for driving a commercial motor vehicle while using an electronic device may incur an hefty fine of up to  $2750 for the commercial driver and a fine of up to $11,000 for the employer.
  • Also, the employer of a commercial driver is subject to a criminal penalty of up to $10,000 if he or she knowingly allowed a driver to operate a commercial motor vehicle without a valid CDL.
  • Two or more subsequent convictions for reckless driving, excessive speeding, erratic lane changes, traffic offenses in relation to fatal traffic accidents, and following the vehicle ahead too closely, within a three-year period may result in a 90-day to five-year suspension.
  • Subsequent violations of heavy vehicles declared out of service order within a 10-year period may result in a 12-month period of license suspension.
  • Alcohol- or drug-related driving offense, or fleeing the scene of an accident, or using a commercial vehicle to commit a felony incurs a three-year license suspension.
  • Any of the one-year offenses while operating a commercial vehicle for hazardous materials endorsement or second offense of one-year or three-year traffic offenses, or using a commercial to commit a felony involving manufacturing, dispensing, or distribution of drugs may result in life-time suspension.
Penalty for Driving a Commercial Vehicle Without a CDL

States may reduce some lifetime disqualifications to a minimum disqualification period of 10 years if commercial motor vehicle operators complete a commercial driver rehabilitation program recommended by the State. However, not all states do this. This regulation is available in Idaho and New York State but not in New Jersey and California.

If CDL holders are disqualified from operating commercial motor vehicles, they can't be issued a conditional or restricted license, but they may continue to drive a non-commercial motor vehicle.

Further, the Commercial Drivers License Program collects and keeps records of all convictions a commercial driver receives and transmits this data to the home State so that any license disqualification or suspension can be applied.

According to the FHWA, a blood alcohol content of 0.04% or more is the blood alcohol concentration level which a commercial driver is considered to be driving under the influence of alcohol and subject to lose their commercial licenses. Further, a commercial motor vehicle operator who is found to have 'any detectable amount of blood alcohol concentration above 0.0% will be put out of service for a minimum of 24 hours. Commercial license holders must report any driving conviction within 30 days, except parking tickets, to their employer no matter the nature of the traffic violation.

Thus, a commercial license holder must notify their employers when their driver's license is suspended, revoked, or canceled. The driver must make the notification by end of the next business day following receipt of the notice of the license disqualification, suspension, revocation, cancellation, or limited driving privileges.

Employers can't under any circumstances use a commercial driver who has more than one CDL or whose license is canceled, disqualified, suspended, or revoked from driving. Violating this requirement may lead to civil or criminal penalties.

What Are The Different Classes Of Commercial Licenses?

In some states, a commercial license holder may be required to drive an agricultural vehicle or recreational vehicle. However, such type of vehicle is federally exempt from having to get a CDL. The different CDL licenses include:

  • Class A. Permits the commercial license holder to drive combination of vehicles in commerce. This includes motor vehicles with a Gross Combination Weight Rating (GCWR) of 26,001 pounds or more, provided the Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) of the truck trailer is over 10,000 pounds. Vehicle examples in Class A include trailer buses and tractor trailers. However, it's essential that passenger endorsement is needed.
  • Class B. Permits a commercial license holder to operate a heavy single vehicle in commerce. This includes motor vehicles with a GVWR of 26,001 pounds or more. If towing a motor vehicle, the GVWR of the vehicle being towed must be 10,000 pounds or less. Vehicle examples that in Class B include dump trucks, box trucks, triple trailers, garbage trucks, cement trucks, and buses. Again, passenger endorsement is needed. 
  • Class C. Permits a commercial driver to operate a single vehicle of 26,000 pounds or less when the commercial license holder plans to transport 16 or more passengers, including the driver, or is transporting material which is designated as hazardous under 49 U.S.C. 5103. 

A commercial driver with a Class A, B, or C CDL is automatically licensed to drive both commercial and non-commercial vehicles using one driver's license.

What is the Penalty for Driving a Commercial Vehicle Without a CDL?

However, if commercial motor vehicle operators commit major offenses, which require the license suspension or revocation, they may lose all driving privileges, including commercial driving privilege.

A commercial license holder, whose CDL is revoked or suspended is prohibited from driving any commercial vehicle during the period of suspension or revocation. The commercial license holder can only apply for limited driving privileges to operate noncommercial motor vehicles.

How much does a Commercial Driver's License cost in Illinois?

Getting your commercial driver's license requires assorted paid services, which are listed below.

  • Original or renewal of commercial learner's permit costs approximately $50.
  • Removing or adding an endorsement/restriction costs about $5.
  • Renewal, original or transferred commercial driver license costs approximately $60.
  • Getting a school bus permits costs $4.

What Do I Need to Obtain a Commercial Driver License in Illinois?

To get an Illinois commercial driver's license there's a list of requirements that you must meet, and getting your CDL involves several steps. There are residency requirements and medical requirements, along with skills and knowledge requirements. The basic requirements for getting your commercial driver license in Illinois include:

  • You must be at least 18 years old to hold an Illinois commercial driver license and drive a CMV within Illinois.
  • You must be at least age 21 to drive a CMV across Illinois state lines, transport any passengers, or carry hazardous materials.
  • You must not have more than one commercial driver’s license, and your commercial driving privileges must not be disqualified, suspended, revoked, or canceled in Illinois or any other state.
  • Also, you must meet the medical requirements of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).
  • You must pass a set of written exams and vision tests to get your Commercial Learner's Permit (CLP) in Illinois. 
  • You must prove citizenship in Illinois and have permission to work in the USA, showing legitimate personal identification which may include a Birth Certificate, Social Security Card, or a Green Card
  • You must prove that you aren't subject to any of the CDL disqualifications for drivers.

The criminal defense attorneys at Ktenas Law represent commercial motor vehicle operators and trucking companies from across the country on a variety of traffic violations throughout Illinois.

From drunk driving changes to overweight truck violations, the experienced criminal defense attorneys at Ktenas Law understand the constantly changing landscape of Illinois traffic law. Our Chicago law office will fiercely defend your commercial driving privileges and driving record. Often, we'll work to secure a reduction or amendment to the original traffic ticket or take your case to trial if necessary. Regardless of the circumstances of your case, it's essential for CDL drivers to consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney for legal help. To schedule a free initial consultation, contact our Cook County law office today at (312) 756-8652 or chat with us online to learn how we can help.