Becoming a truck driver with a felony record is possible for some BUT not all. This guide is meant to help you avoid wasted time and money by streamlining the process when exploring a career as a truck driver. It will be our goal to find out if a company will hire you long before you spend a penny on getting your CDL or truck driving school.
How to become a truck driver with a felony
As you already know it is very hard to find a job with a felony record, particularly a good paying job. The trucking industry may be a good option for some but caution should be used before spending any money. The trucking industry is very regulated (federal and state regulations) and is chalked full of confusing regulations and requirements. The great thing is that companies are always short on drivers! Let’s break down those confusing regulations, company policies and laws in this guide.
Step 1) Determine if you are eligible to obtain a CDL
While most felons can get a Commercial Drivers License (CDL) without any issues there is a few exceptions. These include the following:
- Must be over 21 years old to drive a Commercial Motor Vehicle (CMV) intrastate. Interstate is defined as “across state lines.”
- Be able to pass a Department of Transportation (DOT) medical exam/physical. (More on this later)
- Have not been convicted of a felony involving the operation of a commercial motor vehicle.
- Have a current and valid driver’s license
- Some states have specific and varying laws regarding DUI’s/DWI’s and CDL eligibility. This is something that you will have to consult your local Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) or state regulators about.
You can find a more and in-depth information about “can you get a CDL if you have a felony” here.
Step 2) Find out if you meet any trucking companies felony policies
Each trucking companies felony policies will vary greatly. The good thing is that there is always a shortage of truck drivers and this is why it can be a fairly easy career to break into if you have a felony record. Most trucking companies will not hire you if your felony is more recent than 5 years but some will review your felony conviction on a case by case basis. You can consult our list of trucking companies that hire felons when searching for a company to work for.
Step 3) Apply to trucking companies now, not later!
The need for truck drivers in the United States is overwhelming to say the least. There are openings in nearly every trucking company out their. Because of the truck driver shortage most companies will be chomping at the bit to hire a new driver and make the process as easy as possible. You can, and we highly suggest that you apply and talk to as many trucking companies as possible.
Call them, email them or whatever and explain your circumstances clearly and honestly. Ask them if it is possible they would be able to hire you if you obtain your CDL. DO NOT, and I repeat, DO NOT lie about your criminal past. By law every trucking company has to fully investigate your past and I promise they will find out everything about you. If you lie they will not be able to hire you, period!
If it sounds like you have a chance of them hiring you then fill out an application. Yes you can apply even though you do not have your CDL yet.
Step 4) Pre-hire offers from trucking companies
After you submit your application to every trucking company possible you will have to wait for anywhere between 3 and 14 days to hear back. After a week (5 business days) I suggest that you call your recruiter and check on the status of your application.
If a trucking company accepts your application, and has reviewed your felony they may offer you a pre hire letter. A pre hire letter is not a contract to hire you, it is a letter stating that you meet the requirements to attend orientation and then be hired. This excellent news if you get some!
Here is an excellent article about pre hire letters if you want more information. I highly suggest that you read the article!
Step 5) Determine if you are medically qualified
All truck drivers are required to take a bi-annual physical to determine if you have any health issues that could prevent you from operating a commercial vehicle safely. This is called a DOT medical exam and will be performed by DOT certified medical examiners. Some of the common reasons that someone may fail their DOT physical are:
- High blood pressure
- Sleep apnea
- Poor uncorrected vision
- The inability to distinguish between the colors green, yellow and red. (severe color blindness)
- History of heart issues
- Missing limbs or other disabilities
If you think that there is even a remote possibility that you could not pass a DOT medical exam then we highly suggest that you have a DOT medical exam before you do anything else. There are many drivers that start truck driving school and then can not complete the training do to medical issues. This ends up costing them a lot of money and disappointment.
Step 6) Truck driving schools for felons
Most truck driving schools will accept you even with a felony. Remember, people will always take your money and promise you whatever you want. They will tell you that you will have no problem getting a job and that felony record won’t be a problem. This may or may not be true so use caution and revert back to this guide on how to become a truck driver with a felony.
You can find more information about trucking schools here.
Link Coming Soon!
Step 7) Attending truck driver orientation
After you have gotten your pre hire letter, are medically qualified and get your CDL you will be of to orientation. Each trucking companies orientation will differ a bit. You can expect the following thing though:
- DOT medical exam
- Backing skill tests
- Road test
- Explanation of company policies
- Training on and off the road
After you complete orientation you will officially become a truck driver and be an employee. You can find a lot more information about orientation in this article.