Do Trucking Companies Hire Convicted Felons?

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After being convicted of a felony, finding employment is a challenge many people face after the handing down of judgment or after serving their sentence. A common career path people hope to fulfil is trucking, but do they hire convicted felons?

Prison and Cuffs

In the United States of America, there are a lot of trucking companies that hire convicted felons as truck drivers. The reasons trucking companies look to hire felons are to assist in the reformation process, in service of the criminal justice system, and the recent driver shortage.

While the usual requirements and skills need to be met to be employed as a driver for a trucking company, some further considerations convicted felons need to be aware of should they explore this career path. Let’s look at them now!

Best Trucking Companies For Convicted Felons

While there are many trucking companies that hire convicted felons, there is no mandated law or regulation that says all trucking companies need to hire or train convicted felons. Therefore coming up with an actual list of companies is difficult as it will depend on what the conviction was for.

Therefore, while there are certainly a lot of opportunities for convicted felons to enter the trucking industry, each company has different requirements, hiring policies, and training programs for potential employees.

Typically speaking, trucking companies will have the following time limits on the hiring convicted felons; individual research needs to be done to determine if the company you or another person may be interested in allows for the hiring of felons:

  • Hiring after completion of sentence for a felony,
  • Hiring five years after completion of sentence for a felony,
  • Hiring seven years after completion of sentence for a felony,
  • Hiring ten years after completion of sentence for a felony, and
  • No hiring of convicted felons is permitted.

Some trucking companies, inclusive of employment opportunities, also provide training opportunities. However, these training opportunities are usually restricted to specific employment requirements and not driving themselves.

Therefore, specific clearance and training requirements need to be met to become a truck driver as a convicted felon.

How To Become A Truck Driver As A Convicted Felon?

The most important requirement needed to become a truck driver is to get a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL). To apply for and complete the CDL course, the following requirements need to be met:

  1. Depending on the State, an applicant must be either over 18 or 21 years of age to apply for their CDL,
  • Own a valid non-commercial driving license,
  • Be employed by a trucking company that offers CDL training or apply at a registered CDL driving school,
  • Obtain your Commercial Learner’s Permit (CLP). To get a CLP requires state-approved documentation, including a clean driving record and medical clearance to operate heavy vehicles from the Department of Transportation,
  • Been in possession of the CLP for approximately two weeks to allow the training needed to pass the CDL. The CDL exam consists of a road skills test, a written test, and other courses depending on regulations,
  • Once passed, the physical CDL is either hand-delivered or sent through the mail. Review the CDL to ensure all details are correct, as it needs to correlate to your details and the CDL regulations passed.

While there are multiple CDL types, it is advised to acquire a Class A CDL (either a manual or automatic CDL, depending on the transmission system of the trucks).

Truck Driver Training

What Felonies Restrict Someone From Getting A CDL?

The restrictions on convicted felons acquiring a CDL vary depending on the state a person wants to complete their CDL.

The primary considerations regarding felonies and whether someone can get a CDL in light of their conviction are the offense’s seriousness, the number of convictions a person has, and whether the offense involved a motor vehicle.

Some common offenses which result in someone being disqualified from applying a CDL include, but are not limited to:

  • Suspension of a driver’s license,
  • A pending warrant of arrest,
  • Driving under the influence,
  • Reckless driving,
  • Murder,
  • Arson,
  • Assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm,
  • Smuggling,
  • Treason,
  • Kidnapping, and
  • Bribery.

The nature of the conviction is a primary factoring in determining whether the ban of the acquisition of a CDL is permanent or temporary.

For example, as one of the trucking industry’s main hubs, Texas emphasizes that any felonies involving a motor vehicle will ban a person from getting a CDL for life.

However, there is a leniency level for other offenses with a motor vehicle, just an axillary component in a person’s criminal conviction.

For example, a conviction for driving under the influence or leaving the scene of an accident results in a temporary ban of getting a CDL for three years, while a second offense of the same type will result in a ban for life.

Serious traffic offenses such as reckless driving or speeding can also result in a ban for acquiring a CDL. However, these offenses typically range in a ban from 60 days for a first offense, 120 days for a second offense, and three years for a third offense.

These traffic offenses often include increased time periods on the ban in the event that the convicted person was driving a commercial vehicle at the time of the offense or driving a vehicle carrying hazardous materials.

Further Hiring Restrictions

While a CDL is a requirement for a truck driver, simply having the CDL does not mean a person (convicted felon or otherwise) is guaranteed a job in the trucking industry.

This is because trucking companies require background checks and screen applicants through interviews, with each company placing various emphasis on certain convictions over others.

Fortunately, tax credits have been issued to companies for the training and hiring of convicted felons as part of a nationwide rehabilitation program.

These tax credits, coupled with the driver shortage, have significantly improved the chances of convicted felons entering the trucking industry!

Conclusion

While the path to reintegration into society and employment opportunities for convicted felons may prove challenging, trucking companies often provide opportunities for felons to find work in an established and stable industry.

Harold Thornbro