Can you lose your CDL for using a handheld device?

On Behalf of | Mar 29, 2024 | Commercial Drivers/CDL Tickets

If you are a truck driver, your commercial drivers license is the key to your entire career. You need to keep your CDL to be allowed to legally continue your profession. Losing it is one of the worst things that can happen to you, and it could be far more significant than any financial fines you face because it impacts your entire ability to earn an income moving forward. This could cost you tens of thousands of dollars over the years.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration sets regulations for truck drivers, including a restriction on using handheld devices. For the most part, smart phones and other devices are prohibited while behind the wheel. There are some exceptions for drivers who need to talk to law-enforcement or for those who can use a hands-free system where they only need to push one button to make a call. But drivers are never supposed to use the device while holding it and they should never engage in activities like texting and driving.

Multiple offenses

If you are accused of using a handheld device, the first offense will likely just result in financial fines. This may not be true if there are aggravating factors – such as if the cellphone use led to a serious accident – but most drivers are simply fined and allowed to maintain their license.

However, if the same driver has multiple offenses on their record, then the FMCSA can technically take away their CDL. This disqualification can come directly from the FMCSA, or it could be due to violating state laws, as most states now also prohibit distracted driving.

Because these ramifications can be so severe, it’s crucial that all drivers who are facing such accusations understand what legal defense options they have.