How to Protect Your CDL

View of Highway from Big Rig Over Hood


As a professional truck driver, you depend on your CDL, which means you need to be careful of how you drive.

Truckers can be liable for irresponsible behaviour or poorly maintained equipment and risk losing their livelihood because of it.

Some truckers, however, also face losing their CDL because of the companies they are working for.

Don’t risk your CDL because of shady business practices.

Maintain your right to drive and your income by knowing what you are liable for and not liable for.

Protect Your CDL

3 Ways To Protect Your CDL

  1. Avoid Violations

You can be held responsible for issues with your truck whether it is your personal rig or owned by your company.

It’s important for you to make the call on whether or not you are willing to take the risk if your company tells you to use faulty equipment.

Just keep in mind that you are liable for that decision and could lose your CDL for it.

Here are just a few of the things that will get you a violation and possibly a black mark against your CDL:

  • Expired documents 
  • Overweight
  • Over length
  • Over height
  • Speeding
  • Parking Tickets
  • Traffic Tickets
  • Defective Lights
  • Equipment Failures
  • Logbook Errors and Omissions

Related > Truck Driver Tips For Handling High Risk Deliveries

  1. Fight Your Tickets

Sometimes it is worth it to pay the legal fees to fight a traffic ticket.

The main reason being that if you feel you can beat your traffic violation, then you can avoid points on your license.

Points can add up in the event of accidents, speeding tickets, and distracted driving tickets. You could easily be at risk of losing your license if you don’t keep watch over those points.

Some trucking companies will not lay the hammer down if you get a few speeding tickets but keep in mind that better paying jobs with more reputable companies WILL scrutinize your driving record thoroughly.

You may not lose your CDL over one or two tickets but you should definitely be careful not to lower your value as a truck driver by racking up the citations.

Related > How to Become a Truck Driver — The #1 Secret to Starting a Successful Career

  1. Don’t Depend on a Circle Check

A circle check is a common practice among truck drivers.

But this should not be expected to be a mechanical inspection.

Most truck drivers are not qualified to give the okay on a vehicle’s road-worthiness.

You can run a lot of basic checks during a circle check but if your equipment experiences a fault beyond something you could easily identify then you should not be held responsible.

After all, REMEMBER, you’re not a mechanic!

Anything you do find, should be reported immediately.

Don’t let your trucking company push you to drive a vehicle that needs to be serviced. If you have an accident with a truck that you ‘know had issues’, then your trucking company will most likely try to hold you responsible.

That can be nothing but bad news.

If your company is asking you to violate any of the rules set out by the FMCSA, then you should refuse to go on duty driving. 

This is obviously easier said than done.

But think of it this way, if you lose your job for not going on duty, the hassle from the company would be less damaging than actually losing your license if you caused or were involved in a wreck, knowing your equipment wasn’t safe.

If you go on duty when you know you shouldn’t for whatever reason,  your CDL is at risk.

Then you are out both your CDL & your income.

Don’t risk it! Find another company to work for.

Related > The Pre-Trip Inspection : A Practical Guide

In the End, It’s Your Call

Throughout your truck driving career, you will most likely have to make a hard decision to not run a route because of issues with your vehicle, load, or route.

At the end of the day, it’s your call on whether it’s potentially worth losing your CDL over.

Be careful that you aren’t held responsible for something that if charged or fined, isn’t your fault.

Fight your tickets if it will save your CDL.

Protect your license as best as you can by being a safe, responsible driver.


If I have an accident and I didn’t have time to get a repair performed on my truck, could I be held liable?

Yes, you most certainly could be responsible if you knew, but didn’t take the time to get your truck repaired. Do not feel pressured to take risks by your trucking company.

My trucking company often says when I tell them a repair is needed on my truck, that it will be done after the trip I’m on. Is this ok?

No it is not ok. It is unsafe. You need to put your foot down and refuse to drive it. Ask for another truck. Nothing is worth having an accident. If this happens often at your company, you may wish to seek out another employer.

I want to be a truck driver, but can’t afford the training. How can I get a CDL?

If you cannot afford to pay for a private CDL school program, look for paid CDL training options. There are trucking companies which provide truck driver training, in exchange that you stay and work for the company for a minimum amount of time, after you have completed your training (typically from 9-12 months).

Is truck driver pay enough to earn a decent living?

Not all trucking companies pay fair wages. Be sure to seek out a fair carrier who will pay you as a qualified CDL driver, for the work you do. No free waiting time.

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