Drunk Driving in Texas and Commercial Driver’s License Penalties

If you are a commercial driver your license is very important to maintaining your livelihood, maintaining employment and supporting your family. What you may not realize is the state of Texas substantially increased the penalties for drunk driving with a commercial driver’s license beginning in June of 2005.

After June 1, 2005, Texas laws were updated to comply with the Federal Motor Carrier Improvement Act. After this date, Texas drivers who are arrested for their first drunk driving charge, even if they are driving in a non-commercial vehicle, can expect to lose their CDL license for a minimum of one year.

Drivers who are arrested a second time for drunk driving in Texas will lose their CDL license for life, although the laws allow the driver to reapply after 10 years.

What if you are arrested for drunk driving in another state? Do not assume your Texas commercial driver’s license is safe. Most states have an agreement with Texas that they will report all DUI convictions to the state of Texas and you will have your CDL suspended.

Drunk Driving with a Commercial Driver’s License in Texas


Many drivers know that it is illegal to drive with a blood alcohol content of 0.08% or higher, but what if you are driving a commercial vehicle? Drivers who are driving a commercial motor vehicle can be arrested for drunk driving (operating a motorized vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs) in the state of Texas if their blood alcohol content is 0.04% or higher.

Conditions that you can lose your CDL License for one year


  • Convicted of operating a commercial vehicle under the influence of alcohol or narcotics
  • Refusing to submit to a blood alcohol content test
  • The blood alcohol content test determines the driver had an alcohol level of 0.04% or higher
  • The drivers blood alcohol content level was 0.08% or higher while operating a noncommercial motorized vehicle


If the driver is transporting a hazardous material when they are arrested for drunk driving the penalties will be for 3 years, instead of one (for first time DWI arrests).

Reinstating Commercial Driver’s License after Drunk Driving Conviction


Texas drivers may be able to reinstate their commercial driver’s license after the required suspension period. Contact the Texas Department of Public Safety for more information.

According to the Texas DPS Office, drivers must pay their reinstatement fees and review the reinstating license eligibility application for more information. Compliance documents (without fees) should be mailed, faxed, or e-mailed to:

Texas Department of Public Safety


Enforcement and Compliance Services
P.O. Box 4087
Austin TX 78773-0320

Fax: (512) 424-2848

E-mail: driver.improvement@dps.texas.gov. E-mailed documents must be in PDF format.

If mailing reinstatement documents, please allow 14 business days from receipt for processing. Please include a copy of the suspension notice along with your full name, date of birth, and driver license number.

If you cannot pay your fees online, compliance documents with fees should be mailed to:

Texas Department of Public Safety


Central Cash Receiving
P.O. Box 15999
Austin TX 78761-5999

Please submit a check or money order only. We do not accept cash. Make the check or money order payable to Texas DPS and include a copy of the suspension notice along with your full name, date of birth, and driver license number.

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Beth L. is a content developer for LeadRival, a cutting edge company that helps connect DUI lawyers with DUI clients. Beth L. writes about a variety of DUI topics to help drivers who have been arrested for DUI, getting them the legal help they need.

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