Newbies - Tips From the Trainer

DWI / Felony


By Fozzy

Welcome! This is your personal online trainer. I will strive to provide insightful and 100% accurate information regarding questions you have about the first few months in the life of a new driver––from driving tips to industry policies. Get in on the action. E–mail your questions to me.

Q

If my DWI is over five years old should I answer yes when asked on an application if I have ever been arrested or if I have ever been arrested for DWI? Also, same question for a misdemeanor.


A

This question comes up often and there are a lot of varying positions on the subject. The question is: "Have you EVER been arrested for a DWI?" While the charges have, for all intents and purposes, been dropped from your personal record, there are ways that these things "come up" on different databases throughout the country and abroad. The security measures after the 9-11 attacks are being implemented more and more lately. I'd advise against trying to hide the facts from your chosen employer.

There are plenty of companies that accept drivers with DWI/OWI/DUI and various criminal records. You may in fact get away with these records not being disclosed. If someday, however, they are uncovered by a chance background check, you will undoubtedly be fired IMMEDIATELY and have a "lying on a application" charge floating around with the now-known DWI. Honesty is always the best policy.

 

Q

Hi, I just want to know if someone with a felony can obtain a CDL. I have always had a thing for big trucks. I'm 20 years of age.


A

The short answer is yes. You can obtain a CDL both with a felony and at 20 years of age. The "long" answer, and the answer that will throw the "monkey wrench" into the plan, is that it is sometimes HARDER for ex-felons to find work at better companies and at a company that will not abuse them. There are more and more seemingly desperate people who are willing to do about anything to drive a truck. There are an equal number of companies out there that are looking for that type of driver! They are looking for people who they can get to do their "dirty work" and if that driver happens to get caught running illegal and get fines and tickets...oh well. They just go out and look for another desperate driver who is waiting in the wings.

You must do some research. Find a company and see what they require, and see if they can suggest a training school near you. There are a lot of CDL schools that will offer anyone training regardless of their prospects of actually getting hired! There are a lot of people who have worthless CDLs! They attend (and then are financially responsible for) a trucking school and obtain the CDL only to find that they cannot get hired! The costs of these trucking schools can be over $8,000!

There ARE reputable companies that will hire ex-felons and or people with "problems" in their past. The thing that they do is really watch these people and see which direction they turn. There are many ex-felons who practically make their past records all but disappear when the trucking resume shows a good, steady, safe driving, on time record and professionalism. Many drivers move from the training companies and into well-paying and lifestyle-friendly companies after proving themselves.

And now for some bad news. At 20 years of age you CANNOT drive a commercial vehicle across state lines. You could very well find a company and drive within the state, but most of those jobs are sought by drivers who have already done their time in OTR jobs and want to be home more. There are many Class B opportunities that you could do now! Driving smaller class vehicles can get you a lot of trucking experience that can directly translate into skills that you will need for the OTR trucking world. You could look for a company that has both Class A and B jobs and then when you are older (usually 23 for most companies) you can just stay with the same company and simply start driving a Class A truck. After driving locally and seeing what these jobs offer you may even decide that you like that type of work and never even go OTR.

Good luck in your upcoming search!

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