CDL

Truck drivers have to have a CDL in order to work. It’s a license, but it’s different from a medical license or a license to practice law, in that it doesn’t take much to lose it. CDLs can be suspended or even revoked permanently because of causing an accident, losing your cool on the road and something else not many truckers know about: failure to pay child support.

If truckers fail to pay a few months of child support, they can lose their CDL

Many truckers have been surprised by this, and only find out when they try and pick up a new contract. Imagine searching through trucking jobs because your bank account is getting low, then getting informed by a potential carrier that your application has been declined because your CDL was found to be suspended. If trucking is your only professional skill and is the only way you make money, you’re now caught in a catch 22. You lost your CDL because you didn’t or couldn’t pay child support, but now you won’t be able to pay child support to reinstate your CDL because you can’t work.

How do you avoid this slippery slope?

The obvious suggestion is: Never refuse to pay your child support, even if you’re currently involved in a re-settlement suite. You might think it’s hard to manage paying the support while on a truck driver’s salary, but just try and do it when you have absolutely no income. It’s a nightmare.

If you have already had your CDL suspended, how do you get it reinstated?

Contact your child support services office and make plans to repay the missing money with a payment plan. The bad news is, it’s going to cost you. The good news is that many states allow an immediate re-instatement of your CDL and you can then try and get back to earning a living. If you’re able to do this quickly enough, you might not even have to deal with the headache of having a license suspension on your permanent record, which may cause some carriers to overlook your application (especially for special qualifications like HazMat).

Having said that – do not expect your child services case worker to automatically do this. The severity of the law varies state to state. You may actually have to earn a living working a non-CDL job until the case worker is satisfied. Which brings us to our next headache…

Even if you’re on a child support services-approved payment plan AND earning wages without using your CDL, the state may even still choose to garnish your wages and forward it to your spouse. So picture yourself without a trucking job, flipping eggs or burgers for a living while trying to pay your bills, and THEN only taking home 60% of that paycheck. Not an attractive predicament.

How Can They Do That? I Have a Right to Work!

That may be how it seems to you, but remember: any type of driver’s license is considered by the state to be a privilege to own, not a right. So your job is commensurate with you being able to meet certain state requirements, which includes court costs, fines and child support. If you fail to pay state determined child support, it’s no different than if you had your CDL revoked for failing to pay for license registration, a traffic ticket or anything else regulated by the state.

But you lost your license not because you violated any traffic law, but because you failed to pay the child support ordered by the court, which makes you in contempt of court. The legislatures of all the states have written and passed laws that require the licensing offices in their state to suspend or withdraw any license issued by the state for failure to pay child support. The Governors have signed those laws, and the Courts have found they are constitutional and enforceable by the states to help protect and provide for the children that have been abandoned by a parent. So try not to waste any more time and money on a counter-suite you can hardly win.

So the advice is simple: Don’t attempt to just stop paying child support. Try to renegotiate through a practitioner of family law, but keep paying the settled amount. If you stop paying due to hardship, contact your child support services office immediately and request a revised payment plan. Failure to do this may result in losing your CDL  license, and it’s expensive to get it back.

Good luck, truckers!

Subscribe for top trucking news updates