Felons are ready to resume their lives as soon as they are released from prison.
Many who have served a long sentence may not have the best job skills or job history. There are resources for them.
Truck driving can be a great opportunity to restart their lives.
Some who become truck drivers get a Hazmat endorsement to allow them to haul dangerous materials.
This blog post will cover the question of whether a felon can get a Hazmat endorsement.
- Getting a CDL
- Getting a Hazmat Endorsement
- How Much Does a Truck Driver with Hazmat Endorsement Earn?
- An Opportunity for Felons?
- Supporting a Felon in Getting a Hazmat Endorsement
Getting a CDL
The first step in getting a Hazmat endorsement (H) is to obtain a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) to drive a truck.
Qualifying for a CDL involves education and training to be able to pass a written test as well as a road test.
The Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) will conduct a background check on their driving record.
If there is a felony conviction for vehicular manslaughter, trafficking or distribution of controlled substances, materials, or weapons they will be prohibited from receiving a CDL at the federal level.
Other felonies that could prevent obtaining a federal CDL are bribery, extortion, arson, treason, kidnapping, and assault with intent to murder.
Each driving school sets its own standards and contacting ones in the state in which a felon wants to reside is recommended.
A driver will be disqualified from obtaining a CDL if they were convicted within the past seven years or released from prison in the last five years for any of the following crimes:
- Assault with intent to murder
- Kidnapping or taking a hostage
- Rape or aggravated sexual abuse
- Unlawful possession, sale, virtues, distribution, sale, or dealing in a firearm or other weapon
- Dishonesty, fraud, or identity fraud
- Immigration violations
- Distribution of a controlled substance
- Conspiracy or attempt commit any of these crimes
Getting a Hazmat (H) Endorsement
In addition to a Commercial Driver’s License Federal and state laws, require a hazardous materials (H) endorsement on a CDL before a truck driver can transport hazardous material.
For some special types of commercial vehicles, additional endorsements may be needed. These are an endorsement (N) for operating a tanker truck. There is also an endorsement (X) to operate a tanker and transport hazardous material.
Each endorsement requires passing a state exam, which varies according to the state.
Government regulation of hazardous materials include explosives, gases, some solids, flammable and combustible liquids, and other materials that may cause harm.
Without a hazardous materials endorsement a truck driver will be limited in what they can transport with a CDL.
To qualify for a hazardous materials Class H endorsement one must meet the following eligibility guidelines:
- United States citizen or provide proof of legal status
- Have a valid U.S. Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) with at least two years’ experience
- Proof of Social Security Number
- Legal age to operate a hazardous materials vehicle
- Valid medical examiner’s certificate
- May not have a record of disqualifying commercial offenses
- Pass the Hazardous Materials Endorsement Knowledge Test
- Pass a vision screening exam
- Pass a Transportation Security Administration (TSA) security threat assessment, including fingerprinting
An applicant will be permanently be disqualified from holding a Hazmat (H) endorsement on a CDL if they are convicted of any of the following crimes:
- Transportation security incident
- Improper transporting of a hazardous material
- Unlawful possession, use, sale, purchase, receipt, or dealing in an explosive device
- Conspiracy or attempt to commit any of these crimes
Anyone who does not pass the background check may appeal within 60 days of the decision. Not passing the background check will not result in having their CDL revoked. They just cannot carry hazardous materials.
Restricted offenses also include warrants or an indictment for a felony, robbery, or immigration violations.
The U.S. Patriot Act changed the requirements for issuing a hazardous materials (H) endorsement to a Commercial Driver’s License, making the requirements stricter with more reliance on a background check.
How Much Does a Truck Driver with Hazmat Endorsement Earn?
Current estimates indicate that there are approximately 1.7 million truck drivers with as many as 400,000 more needed over the next 10 years. As many as 30% of truck drivers have a Hazmat endorsement.
There are a number of factors affecting how much money a truck driver makes:
- Type of truck they drive
- How far they drive with longer-mileage assignments earning more
- Bonuses or incentives based on mileage and time
- Experience with veterans earning more
- Having a Hazmat endorsement
The median salary of a truck driver is $40,000. Adding an H endorsement increases the median salary to about $45,000.
This might not seem to be a significant increase, but in order to drive for some companies that carry a lot of hazardous materials, a Hazmat endorsement is needed.
An Opportunity for Felons?
To obtain a Hazmat endorsement, it is essential for felons to be honest about their background. Lying about their conviction will only make their situation worse.
Any felony found on doing a background check but hasn’t been reported, will be considered fraud, which is punishable, and could result in being sent back to prison.
Negative perceptions of being dishonest, untrustworthy, and unwilling or unable to follow directions from authority figures follow them.
A felon who has their record expunged can begin with a clean record, succeed in getting a Hazmat endorsement, and find a job.
Expunging a felony allows anyone to honestly state on an application for an H endorsement that they have not been convicted of a crime.
Supporting a Felon in Getting a Hazmat Endorsement
Families of felons who want to become a truck driver and obtain a Hazmat endorsement should be supportive but also be honest with their loved one.
Let them know you are there for them, but encourage them to do what is best for themselves and for their family.
Don’t let them be defined by their crime. They can move beyond their past and start over.
Truck driving is a good choice for many felons. Having a Hazmat endorsement on their CDL can increase their chances of getting a truck driving job and can help them increase their income.
What do you think about this blog post? Have you or someone you know with a felony tried to get a Hazmat endorsement? What was it like for them, and were they successful? Please tell us in the comments below.