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Can a Felon Get a Hazmat Endorsement?

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Have you just been released from prison? If so, you know you face major challenges, including finding a job. You may not have the best job skills. Truck driving can be a great opportunity to begin again.

Some who become truck drivers get a Hazmat endorsement which allows them to transport dangerous materials.

Let’s take a look at whether felons can get a Hazmat endorsement.

In this article, we’ll cover the following:

  • Getting a CDL
  • What Is a Hazmat Endorsement?
  • How Do You Get a Hazmat Endorsement?
  • Can a Felon Get a Hazmat Endorsement?
  • What Felonies Disqualify You From Getting a Hazmat Endorsement?
  • Hazmat Endorsement Background Check?
  • What if You Fail the Background Check?
  • Can You Reapply for a Hazmat Endorsement?
  • Recommended Action


Getting a CDL

Let’s take a look at what is required to get a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL). This is first step in getting a Hazmat endorsement (H).

To get a CDL, you must first apply to a truck driving school and complete their training course. This will involve studying and passing a written test along with a road test.

Among the qualifications that you must meet to be accepted into a truck driving school, is a driving record background check by the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). 

You will be disqualified from obtaining a CDL if you were convicted within the past seven years or released from prison in the last five years for any of the following crimes:

  • Felony conviction for vehicular manslaughter
  • Trafficking or distribution of controlled substances, materials, or weapons
  • Other felonies that could prevent you from obtaining a federal CDL are: 
  • Bribery
  • Extortion, Arson
  • Treason
  • Kidnapping
  • Assault with intent to murder

Remember that each driving school sets its own standards for admission. Be sure to check those in the state in which you plan to reside.

What Is a Hazmat Endorsement?

The world changed dramatically after the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. 

Then, Congress passed new Homeland Security legislation known as the PATRIOT Act. This created the Transportation Security Agency (TSA) with authority over much of the transportation industry, including trucking.

The TSA along with the U.S. Department of Transportation established rules to secure the transport of hazardous materials, including explosives. Federal law requires a security threat assessment on commercial drivers certified to transport hazardous materials (Hazmat endorsement). 

How Do You Get a Hazmat Endorsement?

You need to know the requirements to get a Hazmat endorsement. To apply for a Hazmat endorsement, you must be at least 21 years of age and a U.S. citizen or permanent resident. You must pass a DOT physical.

You must have a valid CDL in the state where you reside. Also, you must pass the Hazardous Materials Endorsement Knowledge test and pass a Transportation Security Administration (TSA) criminal background check.

You must not have committed any disqualifying crimes. Some crimes will permanently disqualify you, including: 

  • Treason
  • Terrorism
  • Murder
  • Illegal handling of explosives

Other crimes will bar you from a Hazmat endorsement only temporarily or may be waived if you appeal it. These crimes include: 

  • Assault
  • Weapons violation
  • Drug dealing

Consult your state and the TSA for a complete list of disqualifying crimes.

Can a Felon Get a Hazmat Endorsement?

This of course is an essential question. A felon can get a Hazmat endorsement depending on certain criteria. There are always the qualifying factors that you as a felon must pay attention to.

Just know that it is possible and don’t get discouraged. There is hope. Let’s take a look at what is involved and the factors that could prevent you from obtaining a hazmat endorsement.

What Felonies Disqualify You From Getting a Hazmat Endorsement?

You will be permanently disqualified from having a Hazmat endorsement on a CDL if you are convicted of any of the following crimes:

  • Espionage
  • Sedition
  • Treason
  • Transportation security incident
  • Improper transportation of a hazardous material
  • Unlawful possession, use, sale, purchase, receipt, or dealing in an explosive device
  • Murder
  • Conspiracy or attempt to commit any of these crimes

Conviction for one of the following felonies is disqualifying if you were convicted, pled guilty (including ‘no contest’), or found not guilty by reason of insanity within seven years of the date of the application; 

Also, if you were released from incarceration after conviction within five years of the date of the application, the following felonies will also disqualify you:

  • Unlawful possession, use, sale, or dealing in a firearm 
  • Extortion
  • Dishonesty, fraud, or misrepresentation
  • Bribery
  • Smuggling
  • Immigration violations
  • Distribution or possession of a controlled substance
  • Arson
  • Kidnapping
  • Rape or aggravated sexual abuse
  • Assault with intent to kill
  • Robbery
  • Fraudulent entry into a seaport 

Hazmat Endorsement Background Check?

Of course, just as with applying for most jobs, there is a background check that is required as part of the application process to get a Hazmat endorsement.

The TSA application for a Hazmat endorsement along with your fingerprints must be submitted to TSA for the threat assessment or background check. The background check will look for the disqualifying felonies as listed above.

If any of these show up, it will result in failing the background check and not being able to get a Hazmat endorsement.

What if You Fail the Background Check?

Sometimes, an applicant will fail the TSA background check.

Not passing the background check will not result in having your CDL revoked. You just cannot carry hazardous materials.

Remember that the U.S. Patriot Act changed the requirements for issuing a hazardous materials (H) endorsement to a Commercial Driver’s License, making the requirements stricter with more reliance on a background check.

It will be more challenging to pass as a result. But, it isn’t the end of the world.

Can You Reapply for a Hazmat Endorsement?

If you do not pass the background check, you may appeal within 60 days of the decision. Depending on the results of that appeal, you may be allowed to reapply for the Hazmat endorsement. This decision will be up to the TSA to decide.

Recommended Action

Felons who want to become a truck driver and obtain a Hazmat endorsement should be honest in all information that they present.

Be sure to enlist the support of family and friends.

Don’t be defined by your crime. You can move beyond your past and start over.

You are not defined by your crime but in how you recover from it. Don’t get discouraged and give up. Be persistent in reaching your goal of getting a Hazmat endorsement.

Truck driving is a good choice. Having a Hazmat endorsement on your CDL can increase your chances of getting a truck driving job.

What do you think about this blog post? Have you or someone you know with a felony tried to get a Hazmat endorsement? What was that like, and what happened? Please tell us in the comments below.

19 thoughts on “Can a Felon Get a Hazmat Endorsement?”

  1. So, I was released from prison in April of 2019, (Michigan), but I live in South Carolina. I was convicted in October of 2012 for 1st degree home invasion, and was in prison for almost 7 years exactly. I also have a few more felonies from much longer ago, but this is the most recent, and by far the most serious. . I got my CDL in January of 2020, and immediately got my hazmat/ tanker endorsements, while I was still on parole. I immediately went to work for a small fuel company (maybe 30 trucks total) and I loved it. I don’t want to go back and haul any other type of freight. Now, the company was sold this past summer and I’m looking for another job, and some of the jobs I’m interested in require a TWIC, also for the ports. Does anyone know if the TSA background check to get your TWIC is the same, more or less stringent than the one they do for your hazmat? If anyone knows, I would love to find out.

  2. So you said

    “You will be disqualified from obtaining a CDL if you were convicted within the past seven years or released from prison in the last five years for any of the following crimes:

    Felony conviction for vehicular manslaughter
    Trafficking or distribution of controlled substances, materials, or weapons”

    I was released from prison August 21st 2021 for several drug manufacturing and distribution cases. I have had my CDL now since October 2021 and been driving over the road since November 2021 and it is now April of 2022. I got my CDL in Missouri but I doubt that makes a difference. Truck driving has changed my life. It’s definitely not what I want to do for the rest of my life but it has provided me plenty of money to pursue my goals in life. As of this week (Easter 2022) ive started my own business (something not related to trucking) but I’m still driving until this business becomes something sustainable.

  3. I am recently got a job with a trucking company and wasn’t able to take it because I have some possession charges on my record. I am a changed man. And it’s almost 20 years since the offense happened. And 16 since I was convicted. I would appreciate any help or advice you could give me to help me get a hazmat endorsement. I really need it. Thank you.

  4. Will I be denied a hazmat if I have 2 dismissals? 1 for attempted obtain property false pretense and 1 for attempted obstruction, both felonies. But again, they were dismissed.

  5. I was released in Sept. 2016. I am still on parole.

    I got my CDL in 2018. I applied for a Hazmat endorsement which required a TSA background check. Since my crimes fell under “Aggravated Sexual Abuse” I was disqualified for having a Hazmat endorsement.

    I was given an option to request a waiver from the disqualification if I could prove that I was rehabilitated enough and that I was not a threat to national security. I applied for the waiver by sending a packet of letters of reference and my own explanation of my criminal actions and my current rehabilitation activities.

    I was granted the waiver and was able to get a job with a petroleum company hauling fuel around Southern California. (My PO also gave me permission to travel out-of-county.)

    When I applied for a TWIC (which is a kind of security clearance to go into harbors and Ports of Entry) I needed another waiver. I got it as well.

    So, in my opinion, if you are a parolee and you want to be a commercial truck driver, you can get a Hazmat endorse and a TWIC, in most cases, but you have to be persistent.

    • Jeff,
      A really good job opportunity for me has come about and it’s very similar to yours. I need this hazmat endorsement bad… please give me some advice.

    • Jeffrey,
      Once you applied for the waiver, how long did they take? I recently applied for waiver and waiting for response. My charge is assault with deadly weapon.

  6. I had my hazmat endorsement before, I let it expire. now they came up with this fingerprinting and background check. I have a felony will they stop me from receiving the endorsement again. my license been clean. and I have a job requiring H endorsement.

  7. I was released from the BOP in May of 2017 to the halfway house released from there in Nov. 2017, also I was released from Probation in May of 2019, I have held a CDL class A since 95, even in BOP custody, I want to add Hazmat endorsement and was wondering if someone could explain how to go through the process of appealing a denial of adding the endorsement, My charge was conspiracy to possess, distribute and or manufacture a controlled substance. Thank you

  8. I was released from the BOP in September of 2017 and went to a truck driving school in September of 2018 and had no problems getting a CDL. The charge was felon in possession of a firearm.

  9. Well I have a felony and I’m currently trying to get my hazemat.i passed the written test just waiting for background check.

  10. Ok, I was released march 14 2014
    I completed my sentence for robbery. I’ve been working since my 2nd day out, and I’ve held my cdl two years now. Haven’t had too many problems finding a job at all. So, I can’t get my hazmat until next year March 14th which is like.. 3 1/2 months from now. If I went ahead and file for it now does anyone know if it’ll go through? Or should I wait until that exact date? I’d really appreciate the advice.
    Sincerely, Tray

  11. Dismissed felony with no conviction and expunged can get a hazmat? The charge or charges was dismissed and expunged so would there be an issue?

  12. this is incorrect. it depends on the felony. you will get denied upon initial application but if the felony does not have anything to do with theft and/or moving drugs while driving a truck you can appea the denial and get your hazmat. i have several friends including myself that have hazmat endorsements with fresh felonies.

    • When you say fresh felonies what does that mean. B cause I have multiple felonies. But they were 5 years ago. I’ve been waiting to have the money to get my record sealed witch takes at least 5yrs. To even ask for it. So you’re saying I’ve been waiting for nothing.. or what. Need to know this thanx ?????????


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