Last Updated: December 20, 2022. Report error / Make suggestion

Initial Application Requirements

  • Who/What Agency governs or oversees the profession?
    • Department of Licensing
  • What are the background check requirements?
    • There is no official background check is required for a non-endorsed CDL, but drivers must submit medical documents based on the type of driving they intend to perform.
    • However, an intensive background check by TSA is required for a hazardous materials endorsement.
  • Are there any convictions that will automatically disqualify me?
    • There are no specific convictions that will lead to disqualification, however the following circumstances will lead to a denial:
      • An invalid driver’s license
        • Certain driving violations disqualify CDL qualification for periods of time.
      • A lifetime CDL disqualification
      • A CDL in a different state – You must surrender other state licenses.
  • Do Certificates of Restoration of Opportunity (CROPs) apply to the position?
    • CROPs do not have a role in initial CDL qualification because no real background check is required for a non-endorsed CDL.

License Suspension/Revocation

  • Why might my license be suspended or terminated?
    • There are multiple reasons for suspension or termination including:
      • Suspension or revocation of non-commercial driver’s license for any reason
      • Conviction in court for driving a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs (deferred prosecution is considered a conviction)
      • Driving a commercial motor vehicle with a blood alcohol content of 0.04 or more
      • Refusing to submit to a breath or blood test while driving any motor vehicle (driving a commercial motor vehicle implies consent to any testing under 49 CFR 383.72).
      • Leaving the scene of an accident involving a motor vehicle
      • Using any motor vehicle in the commission of a felony
      • Driving a commercial motor vehicle with a suspended, revoked, canceled, or disqualified Commercial Driver License (CDL)
      • Causing a fatality through the negligent operation of a commercial motor vehicle (including but not limited to vehicular homicide or assault)
      • Testing positive for drugs or alcohol on a Department of Transportation test
      • Driving a commercial vehicle under an out-of-service order
      • Committing railroad-crossing violations in a commercial vehicle
      • Being reported as an imminent hazard by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration
      • Committing 2 or more serious traffic offenses within 3 years in separate incidents (see RCW 46.25.010(19) for list of serious traffic offenses)
      • Using any motor vehicle in the commission of a felony involving the manufacture, distribution, or dispensing of a controlled substance, or possession with intent to manufacture, distribute or dispense a controlled substance
  • How does the DOL learn about potential grounds for suspension?
    • The DOL learns of driver activity through law enforcement reports after an arrest or citation, mandatory reports of positive drug or alcohol test results from the Department of Transportation, or reports given by medical review officers, breath alcohol technicians, employers, contractors, or consortiums after testing done under workplace drug and alcohol programs.
  • How do I find out about a suspension or termination?
    • The DOL must provide you notice of the violation either personally or by mail
    • The notice must tell you the date that your license will be suspended or terminated.  This date must be at least 45 days from the date the DOL gave you notice personally or mailed the notice.*
      • *Notice periods are shorter where you have been arrested for refusal to submit to a blood or alcohol test, or a positive blood or alcohol test
  • How do I ask for hearing?
    • For all violations, except those involving drug or alcohol tests, you can make a request for administrative review using this form.
    • For three violations, you can request a hearing, not an administrative review. Those violations are:
      • Driving a commercial motor vehicle with a blood alcohol content of 0.04 or more. You must request a hearing for this violation using this form
      • Refusing to submit to a breath or blood test while driving any motor vehicle.
      • Testing positive on the DOT test for drugs or alcohol.
        • For each of these violations you should fill out the hearing request form attached to the notice of your CDL disqualification.
  • What are the deadlines for requesting a review or hearing?
    • Administrative review
      • You must file a request within 15 days of receiving notice of the action against your CDL.   If you fail to do so, you will lose your right to review unless the department finds good cause. RCW 46.20.245
    • Hearings for refusing to submit to a breath or blood test under RCW 46.20.308 (any motor vehicle)
      • You must request a hearing within seven days of receiving notice of the action against your driving privilege.
      • You must also pay a $375 fee to request a formal hearing, unless you are considered indigent
    • Hearings for refusing to submit to a breath or blood test under RCW 46.25.120 (commercial motor vehicle)
      •  You must request a hearing within ten days after receiving notice of your disqualification
    • Hearings for a positive drug or alcohol test under RCW 46.25.125
      •  You must request a hearing within 20 days of receiving notice of the action against their driving privilege.

How to Prepare for a Hearing

  • What does the actual hearing procedure look like?
    • For an administrative review:
      • The DOL will only make an internal review of the documents and records that led to the action against you. You can request an interview be done, but the DOL has the right to grant or deny your request, and to decide the format of the interview.
      • The administrative review is only trying to answer two questions: 1.) Do the records point to the correct person accused, and 2.) Does the information received from the court or other agency accurately describe the action they took. RCW 46.20.245.
      • The disciplinary action will be stayed during administrative review.
      • You will have the burden of showing that it is more likely than not that your driving privilege should not be restricted.
      • If you have committed a violation that provides for a hearing other than administrative review, a review is unavailable and you must seek the hearing that corresponds to the violation.
    • For drug/alcohol related incidents:
      • Driving a commercial motor vehicle with a blood alcohol content of 0.04 or more or refusing to test (RCW 46.25.120):
        • The DOL will give you 10 days notice of the time and place for the hearing.  The hearing will be held in the county of your arrest.
        • Your suspension or disqualification will be stayed while the hearing (or any appeal) is pending so long as there is not a conviction or other finding of a moving violation during that time.
        • The DOL will review its own records and may allow testimony or additional evidence.
        • The hearing will cover the issues of 1.) whether a law enforcement officer had reasonable grounds to believe you had been driving or were in actual physical control of a commercial motor vehicle within this state while having alcohol in the your system or while under the influence of any drug, 2.) whether you refused to submit to the test or tests upon request of the officer after having been informed that the refusal would result in your disqualification from driving a commercial motor vehicle, if applicable, and, 3.) if the test was administered, whether the results indicated an alcohol concentration of 0.04 percent or more or any measurable amount of THC concentration.
        • Following the hearing, the hearing officer will issue a formal decision, either upholding, modifying, or reversing your suspension/termination.
      • Refusing to submit to a breath or blood test while driving any motor vehicle (RCW 46.20.308):
        • The hearing must be held within 30 days of the Department receiving your hearing request.   The hearing will be held in the county of your arrest unless the court allows it to be conducted by telephone or electronically.
        • The DOL will give you five days notice of the time and place for the hearing.
        • The hearing shall cover the issues of 1.) whether a law enforcement officer had reasonable grounds to believe you had been driving or were in actual physical control of a motor vehicle within this state while under the influence of intoxicating liquor or any drug, 2.) if you were under the age of twenty-one, 3.) whether you were placed under arrest, and (a) whether you refused to submit to the test or tests, or (b) if a test or tests were administered, whether the applicable requirements of this section were satisfied before the administration of the test or tests, whether the person submitted to the test or tests, or whether a test was administered and the results indicated that the alcohol concentration of the person’s breath or blood was 0.08 or more, or the THC concentration of the person’s blood was 5.00 or more.
        • A hearing officer may issue subpoenas for the attendance of witnesses and the production of documents.
        • You may be represented by counsel, may question witnesses, may present evidence, and may testify.
        • Following the hearing, the hearing officer will issue a formal decision, either upholding, modifying, or reversing your suspension/termination.
      • Testing positive on the Department of Transportation test for drugs or alcohol (RCW 46.25.125):
        • The hearing will be conducted in the county where you live, except that the DOL may conduct all or part of the hearing by telephone or other electronic means.
        • Your suspension or disqualification will be stayed while the hearing (or any appeal) is pending so long as there is not a conviction or other finding of a moving violation during that time, and the DOL does not receive any further report of a positive test for drugs or alcohol.
        • The hearing will be limited to the following issues: (a) Whether you are the person who is the subject of the report; (b) whether the motor carrier, employer, or consortium has a program that is subject to the federal requirements under 49 C.F.R. 40; and (c) whether the medical review officer or breath alcohol technician making the report accurately followed the protocols established to verify or confirm the results, or if the driver refused a test, whether the circumstances constitute the refusal of a test under 49 C.F.R. 40.
        • Evidence can be presented to show that the test result was a false positive
        • Following the hearing, the hearing officer will issue a formal decision, either upholding, or reversing your suspension/termination.
  • Is there an appeals process?  If so, what does that look like?
    • If you disagree with the Department’s final decision you can appeal your case to Superior Court
      • Where the original hearing was done under RCW 46.20.308 or where administrative review was sought:
        • You must request an appeal within 30 days of the formal hearing/administrative review decision, or you will lose your right to appeal.
        • The appeal must be filed in the county of the arrest
        • The appeal is limited to a review of the record of the administrative review or formal hearing.  All facts established in the prior hearing/review will stand.  The only question the Court is trying to answer is whether the Department made any errors of law.
        • The filing of an appeal does not influence the effective date of the suspension or disqualification, unless an appellant can show that they are likely to win the appeal and that a stay would prevent irreparable damage to the individual.
      • Where the original hearing was done under RCW 46.25.120 or 46.20.125:
        • You must request an appeal within 30 days of the hearing decision or you will lose your right to appeal.
        • If your hearing was under RCW 46.25.120, you can file your appeal with the County you live in.  If your hearing was under RCW 46.25.125, you must file your appeal in the county of your arrest.
        • The court will review your appeal de novo, which means it will not rely on any facts established in the prior hearing.
  • What is the range of sanctions I might face?
    • Your CDL may be suspended for a period of time depending on the violation (range from 60 days to 10 years) or
    • You may be disqualified from holding a CDL license for life (for specific violations).
  • Are there options for reinstatement after my suspension?
    • So long as your CDL has only been suspended for a period of time, once the time period has lapsed, you may seek reinstatement of you CDL.
    • If you received a lifetime disqualification, reinstatement is not possible.
    • Nearly every violation requires you, if your CDL has been suspended for one year or more, to pay at least a $35 re-qualification fee and pass the CDL driving and knowledge tests.
    • Depending on what type of violation led to your suspension, you may also need to meet other reinstatement requirements, such as the following:
      • Paying $35 and passing the knowledge test even if CDL has been suspended for less than one year
      • Additional fee payments
      • Re-taking the CDL driving test
      • Going through the CDL process as if the individual had never held a CDL license before
      • Receiving specific drug/alcohol treatment
      • Providing a report from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration that the individual is no longer an imminent hazard

More Occupational Guides Guides

Medical Professional Licensing Guide

Initial Application Requirements Who/What Agency governs or oversees the profession? What are the background check requirements? Are there any convictions that will automatically disqualify me? Do Certificates of Restoration of […]

Real Estate Licensing Guide

Initial Application Requirements License Suspension/Revocation Hearing Process Is there an appeals process if I don’t agree with the final order? If so, what does that look like?

Substance Use Disorder Professionals Licensing Guide

Initial Application Requirements Who/What Agency governs or oversees the profession? What are the background check requirements? Are there any convictions that will automatically disqualify me? Do Certificates of Restoration of […]