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Can I Reinstate My CDL?

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A commercial drivers license (CDL) is issued by each state for an individual who has trained and tested for driving large or commercial vehicles. There are different classifications for commercial drivers licenses, and states can also differ on rules for limiting, revoking or reinstating the endorsement.


If a CDL is suspended or revoked for a violation, reinstating the license will depend on the type of infraction and the limitations that apply. For instance, if a first offense DUI occurred and the driver had a suspension for 12 months, the CDL can still be reinstated. The reinstatement generally requires an entire retesting and application for the license. For other offenses, such as a second offense DUI or an accident in the commercial vehicle that resulted in a suspension, the CDL may be revoked permanently. In some cases you can have a lifetime suspension -- for a second offense DUI, for example -- reinstated if you attend a court-approved rehabilitation program, but this is difficult to do.


Military personnel who have gone overseas to serve and had their CDL lapse while out of the country can reinstate the CDL with documentation to their state licensing office. You must provide a copy of the military ID, copy of the orders of your placement out of the country, an updated long-form physical and your most current drivers license. You must provide these documents to your state licensing office and request reinstatement. You will likely lose any additional endorsements you had other than the main CDL.


If you simply let your license lapse for some reason other than legal, health issues or deployment overseas, you can simply go through the process of relicensing. This requires you to take all the testing, a physical exam and pay the fees again; however, if there were no specific reasons for your license to be suspended or revoked, there are no barriers to regaining a CDL license.

Endorsements and Limitations

Endorsements that are attached to a CDL can be restricted or blocked and generally are not reinstated with a CDL. Reinstating endorsements means retesting and applying for the added certification, as well as paying any fees. If the endorsement was suspended or revoked for a particular reason, you will need to determine the cause of a lost endorsement. For example, a hazmat endorsement can be revoked by the Transportation Security Administration because you are deemed a security risk, even though the CDL remains intact. In this type of case you must appeal based on the reason you were denied.


Caprice Castano recently left the field of construction management to operate her own contracting business and spend time developing her writing career. Current projects include freelance writing for Internet publications and working on novel-length fiction.