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Can a Felon Become a Truck Driver?

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Can a felon become a truck driver? Following release from prison, felons want to return to society and resume their lives.

Many who have served a long sentence may not have the best job skills or the good job history.

Those who are released, after being locked up for so long, spending most of their time inside a confined space, often think of pursuing a job that allows them freedom and the chance to be on the go.

For many, they think of truck driving with the opportunity to hit the road.

This blog post will cover the question of whether a felon can drive a truck.

  • Requirements to Become a Truck Driver
  • Types of Trucks to Drive
  • Reasons for Driving a Truck
  • Reasons for Not Driving a Truck
  • Supporting a Felon in Becoming a Truck Driver


Requirements to Become a Truck Driver

There is always a shortage of qualified truck drivers.  The transportation industry has many job openings.

There are no specific requirements to become a truck driver.

The training is not set, but there are a number of truck driving schools that teach the skills necessary to become a good truck driver.

It is generally recommended to attend a school to obtain a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL).  This required for most truck driving jobs.

Getting a CDL consists of training to be able to pass a written test as well as a road test.

Those who obtain a CDL have a much better chance of finding a job.

There are restrictions on obtaining a CDL.

In applying to obtain a CDL, the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) will conduct a background check on their driving record.

If there is a felony conviction for vehicular manslaughter, or trafficking or distribution of controlled substances, materials, or weapons they will be prohibited from receiving a CDL at the federal level.

Other felonies that could prevent obtaining a federal CDL are bribery, extortion, arson, treason, kidnapping, assault with intent to murder.

Other than these restrictions, each driving school sets its own standards.

Types of Trucks to Drive

There are many different types of trucks that those who obtain their CDL are qualified to drive.

First are dry vans.  These are the kind of truck that most truck drivers start out with.  These are large, single trailer vehicles loaded with dry goods and non-perishable items.

Second are flat-bed trucks.  These are vehicles with a long flat-bed that are used to transport vehicles, odd-shaped goods, over-sized freight, and military vehicles.  They require loads to be tied down.

Next are tankers.  There is a high demand for tanker drivers.  These trucks carry liquids, which can be difficult, requiring fast action in case of emergencies.  Liquids hauled may or may not be hazardous.

There are also refrigerated freight trucks.  These vehicles transport goods that must be kept at a specific temperature.  These drivers have to know how to set and check the temperature inside the truck.

In addition, there are freight trucks that carry goods not transported by dry vans, which could include liquid, over-sized, or hazardous materials.

There are also LTL freight trucks.  LTL means ‘less than truckload’ and are smaller loads that may require shorter distances and several stops daily.

General designations for different types of truck drivers are local, regional, or OTR drivers who drive across the country.

Reasons for Driving a Truck

There are many reasons why felons might want to become a truck driver.

First, truck drivers’ school lasts between three and seven weeks, depending on the particular school.

This is certainly a much shorter time than attending college or even a trade school.

Then, the pay, even starting out, is good, better than many other beginning jobs.

Due to the constant shortage of qualified truck drivers, jobs are always available.  This is true even for those who have just completed training without experience.

There are a number of options as a truck driver, working locally, statewide, or federally.  For those federal positions, not having a felony driving record is important.

Those who find a job as a truck driver receive benefits, such as health insurance.  This was the subject of a previous blog post about whether felons can get health insurance.

One reason many felons are attracted to truck driving is that they have the opportunity to work outside, move around, and work on their own a lot.

Reasons for Not Driving a Truck

There are also reasons for not becoming a truck driver.

The work involves long hours, with up to 12 hours per day being standard.

Working as a truck driver requires being able to stick with a tight schedule.  There are typically specific delivery times that must be met.

Then, truck drivers often drive alone, making for loneliness and a tendency to take more time for deliveries, taking too much time on the drive.

Those who drive trucks must have the discipline to be able to handle the schedule and demands.

For some felons, this is an area that may have been challenging to them in the past, and it won’t be any easier now.

Truck driving can also be dangerous.  Driving larger trucks is dangerous.  Then drivers may be exposed to hazardous materials or chemicals.

For those who are aware of these drawbacks and still want to pursue a truck driving career, they should make certain to give themselves the best chance possible to succeed.

Succeeding means setting themselves up for their best chance.  This may mean, checking their work history.

Trucking companies want to look at an applicant’s job history.  That makes getting a job even more important before applying to truck driving school.  There are employers who will hire felons.

They may want to know if they have attended a re-entry program, and if they are connected in their community.

Having their record expunged can be a benefit for those wanting to become a truck driver.

Supporting a Felon Wanting to become a Truck Driver

Families of felons who want to become a truck driver should be supportive but also be honest with their loved one.  If they aren’t the type to want to be on a tight schedule and have the discipline to make that type of time demand, then maybe truck driving isn’t for them.

Let them know you are there for them, but encourage them to do what is best for themselves and for their family.  Truck driving is an answer for many felons though.

What do you think about this blog post?  Have you or someone you know with a felony tried to become a truck driver?  What was it like for them, and were they successful?  Please tell us in the comments below.

1 thought on “Can a Felon Become a Truck Driver?”

  1. I have prior convictions stemming from a shooting that occurred in youth days which is over 22 years ago as well as drug conviction. I never did prison time only was let off with probation for both charges. Even to this day with my skills I have a hard time landing a job even a toilet cleaner position turn me down. Its like the system won’t allow for people in my shoes to try and make it today. I don’t get it.


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