Felons face much difficulty when trying to find jobs. Most employers consider them high risk. They are more likely to hire an applicant without a record.
Truck driving jobs are however a key exception. The nature of work often makes hiring felons a good idea. For those considering this career path, a vital query is, what truck driving schools accept felons?
Truck driving is a lonely job. For many felons, this is ideal as they do not have to deal with the judgments of others. they also appreciate the lack of supervision. After having been watched always in prison, this can be liberating.
Felons also like these jobs for giving them freedom. Being on the open road is a big change from the confined spaces in prison. Long-distance jobs also mean a chance to travel around the country.
These are also amongst the highest paying jobs for felons. Since they are vocational, the training is much shorter and less expensive than a degree.
Truck driving jobs will require a commercial driving license(CDL). Here we will look at what is needed to secure a CDL. Also, the requirements required to join truck driving schools and which ones accept felons.
A CDL is mandatory for truck driving. It is what permits a person to operate large and heavy vehicles. Class C also allows the carrying of many passengers and hazardous materials.
There are three classes of licenses. These include:
1 Class A – For any configuration of vehicle with a total vehicle weight of up to 26,001 pounds or more. This is provided the vehicle being towed is 10,000 pounds or more.
2 Class B – For single vehicles with a total vehicle weight reaching 26,001 pounds or more. And, if towing, a vehicle should not be more than 10,000 pounds.
3 Class C – This class specifies several conditions including:
- For any single or combination of vehicles that are not under Class A or B.
- Can apply to vehicles designed to carry 15 or more passengers, excluding the driver
- For vehicles that transport hazardous materials
- For vehicles transporting any material listed as select agent or toxin
Some licenses permit the operating of vehicles in other classes with appropriate endorsements.
To get a CDL, one must fulfill certain requirements. These include:
- Be 18 years of age, except in two states. For class A CDL in New York and all classes in Hawaii, be 21 years of age.
- Complete CDL training
- Pass CDL knowledge and skills test
- Medical certification
- Background check
For felons, many of these requirements are not a problem. Until you come to the background check.
There are different kinds of background checks. Drivers are expected to apply for a CDL at their state Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). Before issuing a CDL, the DMV will run a check through certain databases.
There is the Commercial Driver’s License Information System (CDLIS) and the National Driver Register (NDR). These databases keep record of traffic violations and driver disqualifications across all the states.
Depending on the state, certain offenses can disqualify a person from gaining a CDL.
However, even if you get a CDL, your employer is obligated to keep checking your record. This check is often done annually. Employers can be fined if they allow a driver on their payroll without a valid CDL.
In some states, a criminal background check may also be performed. More so for Class C licenses.
This is because of the higher risk involved. Such as giving a license to drive school buses to someone convicted of sexual offenses.
Jobs involving the handling of hazardous materials also require criminal background checks. So if wondering can a felon get a hazmat endorsement, the answer can vary. The range of crimes that can exclude an applicant may vary from state to state.
So, what happens if you are a felon?
Can I Get A CDL as A Felon?
As said, it depends. You do not have to have a clean driving record, but too many offenses can disqualify you. Primarily it will depend on the state that you live and intend to work in.
You can check eligibility rules on the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). This body lists the disqualification rules for all CDL holders. Also, check with your state DMV.
They will look at the particular offenses you have been convicted of. Minor infractions like traffic tickets are not typically considered. More serious crimes like vehicular homicide and DUIs are.
If the offenses on your DMV record are old, they may not matter anymore. Most states have a reporting limit. This means that after a certain number of years, your records are automatically expunged.
Certain misdemeanor and felony offenses can also be disqualifiers. These can include murder, arson, drug smuggling, and extortion.
Many felons do qualify to get CDLs. It is just a matter of consulting the right people or researching. Truck driving schools can help check on your eligibility even before you enroll in a course.
So which schools do accept felons?
What Truck Driving Schools Accept Felons?
1 Swift Driving Academy
This school is run by Swift Transportation. They train drivers for jobs in their company at several locations. This includes Virginia, Idaho, Arizona, and Texas.
The program lengths can vary. The shortest training for a Class A CDL can take just 17 days. Tuition must either be paid upfront or can be financed interest-free by Swift. Thereafter they will recover their monies in monthly installments from your paycheck.
Felony cases are considered on a case-to-case basis. Do consult with the school before applying. A conviction form will be provided to disclose all relevant data.
Note however that during hiring there should not be a DUI/DWI conviction within the last five years. Also, no reckless driving conviction within the last 3 years.
2 Aduie Pyle Truck Driving Academy
Located in Pennsylvania and Massachusetts, they offer a 10-week CDL training program. This covers 8-weeks of classroom training and 40 hours of practical driving. They also undertake comprehensive CDL exam training.
The school offers training for all sizes of tractor-trailer vehicles. They are also certified for training all classes of HazMat. They also assist students with job placements.
The school has a full facility that includes accommodation. Once enrolled lodging is fully covered and students can begin earning a paycheck as they learn.
3 Celadon Driving Academy
Like Swift, this school is run by a major transport and logistics firm. The company has training schools in Indiana, Alabama, and Texas. They pipeline graduates to jobs within their company.
Their CDL training can take between 3-6 weeks. This is followed by 5-6 weeks of over-the-road training with an instructor. Food and accommodation are included in the training packages.
They do carry out a DMV record check with every application considered. For those with felony records, admission is only considered if at least 10 years old. Any reckless driving or DUI offenses must also be more than 5 years old.
4 Lincoln Land Community College
Based in Illinois, this college offers a good trucking certificate program. Student can earn their Class A CDL within 4-6 weeks. This includes classroom, behind the wheel, map reading, and logbook training.
They run a Workforce Equity Initiative that is of particular help to minority students. Completing the course earns you seven college credits.
They receive weekly in-house recruitment visits from employers. This is a good chance for felons to meet a wide range of potential employers. Even before graduating.
Other worthwhile truck driving schools to consider include:
- Roadmaster Driving School
- R. England Truck Driving schools
- FFE Accelerated Driver Academy
- Continental Truck Driver Training and Education
- New England Tractor Trailer Training School (NETTTS)
Truck driving can be a highly lucrative career. It is accessible to many felons if they can meet the requirements.
Some however have challenges raising money for training. Do consider trucking companies that train and hire felons. They can fund your training and recover their investment once you start working for them.
If you manage to secure a truck driving job, be careful. Maintaining a clean driving record is vital. Employers are required to keep checking the status of your license.
The DMV can suspend or revoke your licenses if you acquire certain violations. Check with your state DMV to find out what offenses can lead to losing your license.