Maybe you want to drive a truck after your release. That’s great, but you need to have the necessary training. To accomplish this, you must attend a truck driving school to get your CDL.
The question is what truck driving schools accept felons. Let’s look at this issue.
In this blog post, we’ll cover the following:
- Why Truck Driving?
- Requirements for a CDL
- Applying for a Truck Driving School
- Finding a Truck Driving School
- Finding a Truck Driving School That Accepts Felons
- Steps to Take
Why Truck Driving?
There are many reasons why you might want to become a truck driver.
First, completing truck driving school takes between three and seven weeks, depending on the particular school. This is certainly a much shorter time than attending college or even a trade school.
Then, the pay, even starting out, is good, better than many other beginning jobs.
With a constant shortage of qualified truck drivers, you can always find a job. This is true even if you have just completed training and have no experience.
There are a number of options as a truck driver, working locally, statewide, or federally. Those who find a job as a truck driver receive benefits, such as health insurance.
One reason you may be attracted to truck driving is that you have the opportunity to work outside, move around, and work on your own.
Requirements for a CDL
In most cases, you must have a CDL to drive a truck, regardless of what type of truck you choose to drive.
Well, there are requirements to meet to be able to get a CDL.
In order to get a CDL, you must:
- Be at least 21 years of age
- Complete a CDL application
- Take the necessary training
According to federal law, you must be at least 21 years old to drive commercially interstate. Intrastate commercial driving can be done when you are 18 years old.
So, there is some choice there, but typically the age minimum will be 21. For felons, this should not be an issue.
Applying for a Truck Driving School
To qualify for a CDL, you must attend a truck driving school.
In looking for a truck driving school, you will find different requirements to be eligible. Of course, it will vary according to the school.
Among these requirements are:
- Meet state residence requirements
- Have a high school diploma or a GED
- Complete a DOT physical
- Pass a DOT drug test
- Have a valid driver’s license
- Have a Social Security Number
- No addiction to drugs or alcohol
- No DUI in the past five years
- No felony convictions involving illegal drugs in a commercial vehicle
Those are some strict guidelines to meet. But, the trucking industry wants only those who are qualified to drive a truck.
It makes sense to accept only those who can handle truck driving and will not give the field a black eye.
That would be embarrassing to those who drive and the industry as a whole.
Finding a Truck Driving School
In getting started as a truck driver, you want to choose a truck driving school that will give you the training that you need.
Let’s take a quick look at how to select a truck driving school.
First, you want a driving school that offers quality training. This means choosing a school that is licensed in the state in which you live. The program needs to combine classroom training along with providing hands-on experience.
Then, you need to make sure that the driving school offers assistance in landing a job after you complete the school.
It will make a difference as to the cost of the school. You want to find one that is affordable.
Then, you want a driving school that is long enough for you to be able to get the knowledge and experience you need. Typically, a quality program will last from three to four weeks.
The location of the school will also be important. While the school may not be across the street from where you live, you need to be willing to travel some distance to get to the school.
But then working as a truck driver will mean traveling. So be prepared.
Finding a Truck Driving School That Accepts Felons
In looking for a truck driving school that accepts felons, you need to remember that there are restrictions on getting a CDL with a felony conviction.
Guidelines for a CDL are not set by the driving schools, but they are established by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). This group sets the disqualification rules for all CDL holders.
Generally, the following will disqualify you:
- Excessive speed
- Leaving an accident scene
- Blood alcohol level
- Controlled substance
- Felony using a commercial vehicle
- Manufacturing, distribution, or dispensing a controlled substance
- Fatality while driving a commercial vehicle
- Repeat offenses
Each state also has its own rules on a CDL that can disqualify you from eligibility. It will be important to consider the rules in the state in which you reside.
You can find these guidelines by contacting the Department of Motor Vehicles for your state.
Essentially, the guidelines for a CDL indicate the importance of the type of felony that will disqualify you from obtaining a CDL.
The crimes that will eliminate you include:
- Manslaughter with a motor vehicle
- Assault with the intent to murder
- Causing fatality due to negligence or reckless driving
In addition, it will make a difference as to how long ago the crime occurred. While it is not a hard rule, you can expect that your conviction must have been at least seven years ago.
The more distant the offense the more likely it will be to qualify for a CDL.
It is difficult to say what trucking schools accept felons. This is because there are so many trucking schools across the United States. In fact, there are over 1,400 schools that offer the training to get a CDL.
Here is a great resource to check out that has a comprehensive list of truck driving schools in each state. So, be sure to check in the state in which you reside to find schools that may take felons.
Another resource to look at for truck driving schools that accept felons can be found here.
One important point to make is that in addition to truck driving schools, there are many trucking companies that offer training to those who are qualified, including many that do hire felons.
In fact, we maintain a list of over 125 trucking companies that hire those with a felony conviction. It can be found here. This list is updated regularly, so be sure to take a look.
Steps to Take
After reviewing all the guidelines and deciding to proceed with truck driving training to get your CDL, here are some suggestions to help you along the way.
First, be honest about your record, including all convictions. If you think you can cover them up and not be open about your experiences, you can’t. They will come to light no matter how hard you try to make them go away.
The only way to make them go away is to have your record expunged if you are eligible to do so. Then you can honestly state on an application for truck driving school or a trucking job that you don’t have a conviction. That would feel great and be another positive step in your reentry to society.
Even if you aren’t able to expunge your record, keep moving forward. There are truck driving schools that will accept you. You will have to be diligent and not get discouraged and give up.
Don’t let the mistakes of the past continue to haunt you. You are not defined by them but by how you recover from them.
Let them go and live an honest life.
What do you think about this blog post? Have you or someone you know been in the situation of trying to get into truck driving school with a felony? What was that like, and how did that work out? Please tell us in the comments below.