So can you become a truck driver if you have a felony? This is a rather straightforward question. Logically, it has a pretty straightforward answer, right? Well, not exactly in the past – before the Internet – one might get away with a felony or two and still have a lucrative career in truck driving.
Not these days though.
Today, the trucking industry is too advanced for such a slip-up. Every business owner in the industry is tech-savvy and can discover that you’ve been convicted in the past in a matter of minutes. Felons can’t hide their pasts anymore. But this still doesn’t answer our question fully.
No, the matter is much more complicated than that.
Who Can Answer This Question?
First things first – you have to think about the details of your case.
If you have some minor charges to your name, some companies won’t have a big problem taking a chance with you. However, if you have some major crimes on your dossier and if your name has been featured on the news, you won’t find a company that will have anything to do with you.
Fortunately, you can find a number of government agencies and other independent organizations that can answer this question for you. Bellow, we have just a few agencies that directly have something to do with our topic:
How The Industry Feels About Felons?
It’s surely not a secret that felons have a hard time re-entering society not to mention adapting to company culture. People will definitely judge you on your past and assume you’re a violent, untrustworthy person, just because you’ve spent some time in jail.
Even if some business owner decides to give you a chance, some of your co-workers will probably assume you’re not a good person. That’s just how people are – they build up trust for some years and lose it in a second.
A convicted person has shared a cell with other felons that were cut off the real world for decades in some examples. Sure, you’ve become a different person in the process, but you have to realize that most people won’t assume you’ve changed for better.
Are There Trucking Companies that Will Hire Felons?
The last paragraph might sound discouraging, but it doesn’t mean that you should give all your hopes up – quite the contrary. Keep in mind that the trucking industry is in a constant need of new drivers. If there’s a shortage of drivers in your state, you have a real chance of getting a job.
Needless to say, beggars can’t be choosers, so if there are in fact companies that offer work to felons, you really can’t be too picky. When it comes to hiring felons, most companies base their decisions on the following few things:
- When were you convicted?
- What crime you were convicted of?
- How many convictions you have on your record?
And here, you can find a short, but comprehensive list of the trucking companies that have hired felons in the past:
- Melton Truck Lines
- Shaffer Trucking
- Swift Transportation
- Boyd Bros. Transportation
- Hunt Transportation
- See the full list here
Other factors, like your driving record and work history, also play a big role, so even if you have a major felony to your name, if you had a spotless work history, you may still have a chance. In some cases, a traffic misdemeanor can be worse than a felony conviction for theft or even a burglary…
Nonetheless, it’s important to stay 100% honest during your job interview. You may be able to hide something from a potential employer during the actual interview. However, almost every company out there does a routine background check on every candidate.
Plus, trucking companies in the United States are required by law to do a Pre-Employment Screening in which they inspect your past employment, driving and criminal records, among other things. If you potential employer finds out you’ve lied during your interview, they will reject you not because of your criminal record, but because you’ve lied.
You shouldn’t feel profiled because of this because trucking companies have to check each and every candidate. This means even people without criminal records are subjected to investigations.
How Not to Get Disqualified
So just to sum things up, you shouldn’t try to hide any single thing on your job application. These are the things you’ll need to include in your application:
- Your employment background before and after the conviction
- Include any recent degrees from approved driving schools
- State that you’re willing to be additionally trained
- Say if you have any past CDL driving experience
With that being said, there are some felonies that will automatically disqualify you from truck driving jobs. This includes most traffic violations such as trafficking and vehicular manslaughter. But let’s look at them in detail…
What Will Disqualify You From Earning a CDL?
Can you get a CDL with a felony? If you’re a felon, you’re probably fear if you can even apply for a commercial driver’s license let alone a truck driving position in your local trucking company. This is a valid fear since some driving offenses will pretty much disqualify you from having a driver’s license for life.
Every time a person applies for a license, the DMV runs driving records to make sure that the applicant hasn’t been disqualified from earning it. But once again, just having a criminal record won’t necessarily disqualify you from earning a driver’s license, although, it will make things quite more difficult.
Felonies That May Disqualify You
Now, let’s list some of the cases that will prevent you from earning a CDL at a federal level. Some of those include:
- Using a commercial vehicle during a crime
- Motor vehicle slaughter in the 1st or 2nd degree
- Causing a fatal accident by recklessly handling a vehicle
- Serious crimes such as kidnapping, extortion, and murder, among others
Every state in America has its own laws that concern convictions and felonies. Therefore, before you apply for a CDL license, it would be wise to check the rules and regulations in your home state. This will ensure there are no hidden problems during the application process.
What Happens if You Have a Warrant?
If you have a warrant for your arrest at the moment of your application, you definitely won’t be able to apply for a CDL in any state. You’ll have to wait until the warrant is released before you can apply. The question now is – will having a warrant prevent you from applying for a CDL completely?
This naturally depends on the nature of the warrant. If you have a warrant for a traffic ticket or any similar small issue like that, you probably won’t be disqualified from taking a driving test, CDL tests or any other test you might need.
When it comes to finding a job, it’s a completely different story. This is practically impossible, and we don’t recommend applying for a trucking job – or any other job for that matter – if you have an active warrant at the moment.
Most employers won’t be willing to give a chance to a person wanted by the law. Although, this is where that shortage of driving talent we mentioned earlier might come in to help you. Some companies might even consider giving you a chance if you manage to demonstrate your skills and dedication to safety.
If you want to take your chances, we recommend you talk to smaller companies in the area. A vast majority of large trucking companies have no intentions of working with a person that has pending charges. Active warrants are a serious matter after all.
Some people may be tempted to look for a trucking job in different states, but keep in mind that warrants follow you. So if you have a warrant in one state and get stopped by the police in another, when they check your license, it will pop up on your record.
Which Traffic Infringements Disqualify You?
We’ve already established that an ordinary traffic ticket won’t prevent you from getting a CDL or landing a job. Even older traffic violations are not that particularly bad. But if you’ve committed any violations more recently, you’ll probably be temporarily prevented from earning a license.
That being said, you should avoid getting tickets by any means necessary. If you’re a felon, landing a job will a challenge in itself, and you don’t want to make things harder on yourself. Now, we’re going to take a look at few things that may jeopardize losing your CDL altogether:
- Escaping the scene of an automotive accident
- Causing a fatal accident due to reckless driving
- Driving under the influence of an illegal substance (DUI)
- Using a vehicle to commit a crime
- Driving while your CDL is revoked, suspended or canceled
Few Things to Keep in Mind
Remember that employers care a great deal about your driving record, especially within the trucking industry. As a matter of fact, most of them will make a decision to hire you or not based upon it.
But there is some good news. Some states might even expunge your charges. Therefore, make sure to check the DMV near you and ask them about the procedures in your home state and see the requirements for taking charges of the record.
In some states, simply taking a drug or alcohol education course – and of course, providing the proof to the insurance company and DMV that you’ve actually taken it – may be enough to remove all the charges from your personal record.
In other states, after a decade, your record will be cleared automatically if you don’t receive any additional charges in the meantime. The older your felony is, the bigger chance that a company will hire you. So if enough time has passed, you shouldn’t have too much trouble getting hired.
On the other hand, there are several cases that can’t be cleared, no matter how much time has passed or how much money you invest in your case. Some of these felonies include:
- Extensive damage to a vehicle
- Vehicular manslaughter
- Severe injuries to a driver involved
- Felony drug charges
In the end, the answer to our question largely depends on your charges. So you have to think what you have done, when you’ve done it and a number of other circumstances.
List of Felony Friendly Trucking Companies
Below are the transport companies who hire convicted felons with little or no experience. Some of these are even willing to train you. All you need to do now is contact them through their website for detailed requirements.
Note: The list is for reference only. The recruitment will be different for each individual.
- Dick Lavy Trucking
- Hunt Transportation (12 months experience required)
- Navajo Express, Inc.
- JBS Carriers (12 months experience required)
- Ozark Motor Lines, Inc.
- Premier Transportation
- Star Fleet Trucking
- Swift Transportation (offers training)
- TMC Transportation
- National Carriers
* CDL companies hiring felons after 10 years or more.
- Barr-Nunn Transportation (12 months experience required)
- Bennett Motor Express
- Estenson Logistics
- FirstFleet, Inc.
- Falcon Transport Co (6 months experience required)
- Hornady Transportation
- HVH Transportation
- Dependable Highway Express
- Interstate Distributor Co.
- Groendyke Transport, Inc.
- PGT Trucking
* CDL companies that accept felons after 7 years or more.
- Boyd Bros. Transportation
- Bear Trucking LLC
- Transway Inc.
- TransAm Trucking
- Paschall Truck Lines
- Carolina Cargo
- DeBoer Trucking Company
- Fischer Trucking
- Melton Truck Lines
- Metropolitan Trucking Inc.
- Salmon Companies
* Hiring felons after 5 years or more.
- C.R. England
- U.S. Xpress
- Celadon Group (offers training)
- Covenant Transport
- Dart Transit Company
- Knight Transportation
- Lone Star Transportation
- Maverick Transportation
- May Trucking Company
- Midwest Motor Express
- Millis Transfer (offers training)
- PAM Transport
- Roehl Transport
- Schneider (offers training)
- Trimac Transportation
- USA Truck (offers training)
- Werner Enterprises
- XPO Logistics, Inc.
- J. B. Hunt
- Frozen Food Express
- Prime Inc. (offers training)
* Hiring felons on a case by case basis.
The Bottom Line
As we said in the beginning, the question may seem easy at first, but once you scratch under the surface, you see that answering whether a felon can be a trucker or not is not so easy. Some people will tell you that yes, felons can definitely become truck drivers while others won’t be so positive.
Finding a local trucking company and applying for a job is easy enough, however, when it comes to landing an actual job with pending felony charges, it’s not easy at all. Basically, you’re going to need a lot of luck to find a reasonable company that won’t reject you during the application process.
But once someone gives you a chance, you’ll be able to prove yourself. We won’t lie – it won’t be easy – but let’s face it, every single employee goes through the same process of establishing themselves as reliable professionals at a new job.
In the end, if you get rejected a few times – don’t give up. Be honest every interview and a right chance will present itself to you sooner or later. Now let’s start with small trucking companies that may offer you second chance driving jobs.