How Does a Felony Conviction or a DUI Affect a Career in Trucking?

How Does a Felony Conviction or a DUI Affect a Career in Trucking?

You don’t need a perfect record to have a profitable career in driving, but it helps.

If you have a felony conviction, you will find it difficult getting into Canada or, if you are Canadian, getting into the U.S.

Most entry-level jobs for newly graduated CDL drivers require you to have a 48-Canada certification. Driving companies want drivers who can operate in the entire 48 contiguous United States and all of Canada.

Note: If you have a good reason to cross the border, you weren’t convicted of a serious crime, and you can demonstrate that you are rehabilitated, you can get a Canadian entry waiver. You won’t be able to get an entry waiver just to drive a truck into Canada, unless you have very special circumstances. Get help by contacting a Canadian immigration officer.

If you can’t get a 48-Canada job, the next most common entry-level job is driving Regional. A Regional job involves being dispatched inside one part of the U.S. Every company defines regions differently. A company that suddenly has a lot of California to Ohio freight, might create a special region to include just those two states—assigning drivers who live only in California and Ohio to drive back and forth.

Standard U.S. Driving Regions:

  • Western 11 (Eleven states in the Western U.S.)
  • Texas and South
  • South
  • Midwest
  • Northeast
  • CNA (California, Nevada, Arizona)
  • Pacific (California, Oregon, Washington)
  • Atlantic (Northeast, Atlantic seaboard, possibly Florida)
  • Southroute (California, Texas, Florida, and points in between)

Regional driving pays less than 48-Canada (usually a few pennies per mile), and the runs are shorter (fewer miles), but Regional drivers get home more often (every 2 weeks, instead of every 4 weeks).

Driving Under the Influence (DUI) is a little more complicated. It is up to the individual company. And the situation changes month by month. If the company is short of drivers (which companies normally are), they might take you with a DUI that is older than 5 years. If the company is desperately scrambling for drivers, they might take you with a DUI that is older than 2 years. If the economy is strong, your chances are better.


  • Trucking companies count from the day of the DUI conviction, not the day of arrest.

  • Find out what the hiring situation is before you go to driving school. Contact a couple of driving companies. Talk to driver recruiters. Talk to drivers. Find out what the situation is before you spend 2 months getting ready.

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