What Will Happen to My CDL License if My DOT Card Expires?

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In California, commercial trucking and transportation companies need special permits from the Department of Transportation or CalTrans to tow oversized loads and certain equipment or hazardous materials. These permits -- also known as DOT cards -- rest with a specific vehicle or transportation company. Driver's licenses, on the other hand, belong to individual drivers. Accordingly, if a DOT card expires, nothing will necessarily happen to a driver's license.

In California, commercial trucking and transportation companies need special permits from the Department of Transportation or CalTrans to tow oversized loads and certain equipment or hazardous materials. These permits -- also known as DOT cards -- rest with a specific vehicle or transportation company. Driver's licenses, on the other hand, belong to individual drivers. Accordingly, if a DOT card expires, nothing will necessarily happen to a driver's license.

Expiration

If a vehicle or company's DOT permit expires, a transportation company or driver cannot legally operate an affected vehicle or transport hazardous or oversized items. A driver who proceeds anyway can have his driver's license suspended or revoked. DOT permits are part of how the state checks for safe transportation practices and protects the driving public. California expects that those issued class A commercial driver's licenses know, understand and respect the laws aimed at driver and public safety.

Other Vehicles

A class A commercial driver can operate most commercial vehicles with California endorsements including those towing more than 10,000 pounds. A driver with a valid California license can continue to work on vehicles that do not require DOT permits to operate, or tow loads that need no special review. In essence, a driver facing an expired DOT card needs to find another load to tow.

License Status

So long as a driver doesn't violate laws, allow his driver's license to expire or get in accidents, California will take no action on his driver's license even if a DOT permit expires. That's because holding a license doesn't make a driver responsible for a vehicle unless he chooses to operate it. Exercising discretion in not attempting to tow an illegal load keeps a driver in good standing with the Department of Motor Vehicles.

Business Implications

CalTrans can hold a vehicle owner or operator responsible for the lapse of a permit by assessing fines or refusing to issue further permits. An irresponsible vehicle owner or transportation company can face consequences by losing the privilege of doing business. Therefore, a driver in business for himself should deal with an expired permit promptly to safeguard his livelihood.

References

About the Author

Eric Feigenbaum started his career in print journalism, becoming editor-in-chief of "The Daily" of the University of Washington during college and afterward working at two major newspapers. He later did many print and Web projects including re-brandings for major companies and catalog production.

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