Trucking Companies Hiring Non-CDL Drivers


A whole lot of talk has been going on about the qualifications necessary to become a truck driver. The CDL is supposed to serve as a barrier of entry against undertrained or unsafe drivers. How effective it is at doing so is a whole separate conversation, but the point is that it’s there. Well now it’s been discovered that there are huge numbers of people for whom needing a CDL is no barrier at all.

CBS7 news reports that in the oilfields of West Texas, there are drivers operating commercial vehicles without having any kind of certification. In one year in the Permian Basin alone, an area of West Texas and New Mexico that’s only about 75,000 square miles, 350 crashes occurred with a driver without a CDL behind the wheel. So far this year, 300 tickets have been issued to drivers without a CDL, an increase of over 100% from two years ago.

So why this sudden increase? The penalty if a non-CDL driver is caught is a class C Misdemeanor and a fine of a maximum of $500. Neither the company, nor the company owner incurs any risk by employing non-CDL drivers. Companies are realizing that they can pay drivers less if they don’t have a CDL. Some companies are even covering the cost of the fines since it’s still less than they’d be paying if they hired properly certified drivers.

While these aren’t jobs that most CDL-holders would want, these shady companies are taking work away from trucking companies that follow the rules and employ proper truckers. Penalties for driving without a CDL should absolutely be increased, but no major change is going to come until companies who employ these untrained, uncertified, and unsafe drivers are held equally responsible.


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Source: cbs7

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29 comments. Add a comment.

  1. says

    Absolutely! I busted my butt to get my CDL then I had to work from the bottom of the barrel working for practically nothing to get my experience for companies that could care less about my CDL as long as their freight got moved. A company that bends the rules should be held accountable for their actions as all proofessionals are.

  2. James C says

    Catch these jackasses (the companies) and throw their owners in jail and reach very deeply into their pockets.

    That’ll solve the problem in a hurry. $50,000 fine for knowingly hiring a non-CDL driver to drive a rig? It’ll have these cheap basterds sending their unqualified drivers off to school in a hurry.

  3. says

    Im not surprised

    I too worked hard to get it then struggled when I first got my CDL…You have no verifiable experience but yet you need a job to get experience…I rode this merry go round awhile till I got a few breaks from some private truck owners so I could get “verified” experience…..geeez

    Yeah they need to tighten this up and make it cost the owner serious money..That will nip it in the bud

  4. Michelle says

    Oilfield doesn’t care. There is money to be made for these companies & they will sacrifice the safety of the public & their workers for that extra buck. I’m hauling flatbed for one such company & although they preach safety, we have to be “creative” with our logs just to get their loads delivered on time. THEN they wonder why their drivers keep getting log book violations & their CSA scores are bad. The nature of this beast…

  5. Clint Campagna says

    It is common knowledge that companies will do ANYTHING they can to cut costs including reducing pay and benefits for employees with or without families, but this isn’t just about hurting employees. This is a MAJOR public safety issue. Many industries have people who are HIRED PROFESSIONALLY to pressure lawmakers to keep regulations OFF the books. The only way to counter this is to inform the public of their risk in this matter and to inspire them to pressure their lawmakers.

  6. joe says

    give them some time.. the scales will either get them or they will have a wreck and go to jail for not having a CDL.. This story sounds like a space filler to me.. the company loses time on a freight load because the truck will be impounded, along with a wrecker bill,the driver will be either jailed or suspend their license,, I just dont see this happening unless some mexican or haitian who jumps and runs after caught, and loses the truck they have.

  7. says

    I got my Class A CDL with no restrictions in fall 2007. I didn’t work my butt off to get it, either. I did have to spend $300 to rent a truck to take the driving portion of the test, which I was never reimbuirsed for. I did have to study some terms and memorize some distances. I had no trouble controlling the truck and trailer.

    Then come to find out a 68/55 speeding ticket from 2003 was holding me up. I tried to pay it back then but missed a court date. So they offered to make me a new court date and I made that but good ol’ Fort Worth couldn’t produce the actual ticket in court so it got dismissed. All this so I could drive a 24500# tow truck because the owner of the towing company was insisting all his drivers have a CDL in case they needed to move one of the heavier rigs during a nasty wreck.

    Greg is right, you can get your CDL but you have no experience. No experience, no job. No trucking company will hire you unless you go through THEIR training program and get locked into a contract with them to pay for that training. If you don’t take every bit of crap they feed you for that year or two, they send a collections agency after you to pay for that training in cash. And God help you if you lease purchase a truck from them.

    There needs to be another way for someone who sees through a trucking company’s BS to get their CDL and get to work. Maybe a standardized test would make sense? Something that goes beyond the state’s CDL testing and asks you questions more specific to hooking/unhooking trailers, using gladhands, air, and electric lines, how to refuel your truck and/or reefer or generator if you have one, how to check tires and brakes and do walkarounds, how to shift properly with or without the clutch, how to save fuel and avoid idling, how to drive in alleys in Queens without scraping your low mile 2011 Columbia on every dumpster, how to take a leak in a 2 liter bottle and leave it anywhere but a trash can, how to tell if a lot lizard is an undercover cop or not, and everything else that’s ACTUALLY RELEVANT to driving a truck.

  8. says

    This situation has such an amazingly simple fix; Fine the hell out of the Trucking Companies responsible. You people at the DOT have never hesitated to remind, and or threaten, responsible cdl drivers with fines or imprisonment over operating a commercial vehicle responsibly. Can’t believe such a loop-hole exists; Close It Now!

  9. keith says

    It is sad to hear this . I payed over $3000 for training then I went to a company that payed ok . Yet I had to do an additional Month with a trainer. And to hear that anuses are driving without a CDL and the fine is a pittance that they recieve yet it effects all of us professionals because DOT cracks down on us true truck drivers because of they fraudently actions. SHUT they business down until they get into compliance for a minimum of 45 days. THat will show them scammers.

  10. Lee Barron says

    Yes! i have jumped through ” many” hoops and still have not landed my first job with a verifiable company. I hope to after the holidays. Ninety day limit is up and now have to refresh.

  11. Kurt says

    Where is the CSA system on this issue? Why doesn’t it count against the company, and after numerous violations get them put out of the trucking aspect of their business?

  12. Gus says

    Amazing how the FMCSA holds a blind eye to this. Follow the money and I’m sure the oil companies are paying lobbyists dearly for both the Texas and US legislatures to do nothing about it. Not sure what kind of experience the driver involved with the parade wreck in Midland/Odessa area had but it is in the hub of the Permian Basin. For all the bark of USDOT Secretary LaHood, his agency seems to have little or no effect in southwest Texas. It’s ashame someone like Dan Rather can’t bring more light to this. These companies work across state lines so it ought to be federal violations/CSA points, etc. Inspections of the CMV should be done to document CSA points but this may be part of the deal, too, IE, no inspection, no CSA points. It’s all a merry-go-round and coming from Texas, it doesn’t surprise me at all. Business as usual.

  13. king james says

    Its piss poor business .I treat my cdl like its gold. And had to learn the old fashion way.its not fair.its dangerous.

  14. Ron says

    This type of thing can only be controlled from the back pockets of the owners of these trucks, when you control that wallet you control whom they hire and how good a driver they hire, when it cost less to hire and pay good safe educated well trained drivers than the misfits that is what they will hire. I spent 42 1/2 years behind the wheel of an 18 wheeler and some times more than 18 and I took my career seriously and kept up on all the new laws and such which is your responsibility if you are going to drive a commercial vehicle.

  15. Phil Haultain says

    This is not new. Companies began considering sometime ago that they could find drivers that (hopefully) were not already imbued with bad habits, that could be molded into drivers with the habits they wanted them to have… When I was the lead instructor at a CDL training/License acquisition firm in Carlsbad, CA, I found that approximately 1 in 6 applicants possessed the talent to become truly good operators of large combination vehicles. There’s obviously two camps on this subject, at least. It is an opportunity for new talent to enter the field, however, it all depends on the after-training and the depth of scope the training facilities employ. It’s sure easy to spot the newbies on the highway these days, especially to an old hand from the “good old days/what’s GPS?/ hard knocks Driving Academy alumni. A disturbing lack of professional courtesy is the most glaring sign of “The new commercial driver” species.

  16. B. Scott says

    Well that’s no big surprise, I mean it is Texas after all. I bet a lot of other greedy trucking company owners in other states are watching the outcome too. It’ll probably take a couple families or more taken out by the dumb, inexperienced non-CDL drivers though for any equally pathetic “lawmaker” to act.

  17. pttrucker says

    I am surprised these drilling companies can still find a company to write insurance on their trucks. As a full time insurance agent, I can say that most insurance companies would cancel an account that had this happen more than once. First time, ok, we will forgive you, but it will cost you $$$ for us to do so. Second time BYE BYE!! I would contend that anyone who knowingly puts a non CDL driver behind the weel of a CMV is grossly negligent, and would suffer greatly if that driver has a serious wreck.

  18. james says

    I drove a CMV with a class A permit for six months. However, the law states that a licensed driver had to be in the passenger seat while I was driving and they had to have the class of license for the vehicle. I guess you could say it was a form of training the guys I was always with, although not certified trainers themselves; were really good at showing me the ropes and giving me pointers on how to improve my driving. I attended a driving school and got my cdl that way and paid my own money to do so. My first job as a driver, I had a trainer for two months before I was let loose on my own. If someone wants to drive a truck then by all means, get the proper licenses. There is no point in this. Sure a small fine for someone with a regular license driving a truck and no repercussions for the company is only going to let this kind of stuff continue. Put some teeth in the current law increase the fine and make the company accountable as well. I don’t know of any freight companies that would be doing this but it sounds about right for an oilfield company to be doing this. Have someone with a little bit of money and they get a few trucks, they can make money hand over fist servicing the rigs and money coming in is good money that would have to be spent bad, so the end result is a bunch of these little companies popping up all over who are trying to skirt regulations. And with the current legislation they really aren’t out anything. It is sad to think that it will probably take one of these idiots causing a fatality accident before someone will wake up and get something done.

  19. Greg Ervin says

    I left a farm/logging job to acquire my CDL. I went thru a fly-by-night 2wk crash course at a CDL training facility. Needless to say they didn’t teach me anything I didn’t already have knowledge of. Figured I’d get better pay instead of shuffling trailers around,fueling trucks and sharpening saws. Nope. So I went w/a company that had training then sent you out solo. No prob.
    Now,if some old farm-hand like me has to go thru channels to get qualified to drive solo,then the oilfield drivers do too. Fine the non-CDL drivers $25,000 & disqualified for life. Then hit the companies with $1.5million fine & complete shut-down;permanently.

  20. says

    If we are to become energy independent, we need a bunch of you guys who are complaining about the crappy pay and no home time and the rest of it, to come out to West Texas and go to work. I run fuel from Abilene to the Midland/Odessa area every day and I see a bunch of Jack pumps sitting idle because there are not enough drivers to keep the crude oil moving to the pipelines. These pumps put the oil in above ground tanks and trucks have to pump it into there trailers and take it to a pipeline injection station. These jobs in the Permian Basin pay $70 to $80 K a year and you are home every night. Many of these companies will pay relocation benifits if you move out there.
    Just be aware there is little housing available. I see a bunch of new apartment complexes going up but don’t when they will be available. So if you have a camper bring it with you.
    These are highly reputable companies that pay good bennies. Like Sunoco, Sun Coast Resources, Chevron and many more, and the best part is some of these jobs don’t require an X endorsement. Like FFE ( yes Frozen Food Express) has a division that runs brine and fresh water to and from the oil fields.
    So if you are not happy with your current position look into moving to either West Texas or North Dakota (if you can take the winters) Did you know McDonalds is paying $18 hr. in N.D.
    I moved to Abilene (not in the oil rich Permian Basin) 3 yrs ago and now make $70 K plus a yr.and sleep in my own bed at night. So take that 63 mph truck along with headaches of freight hauling and give it back to Werner or Swift or whom ever and come out west and make some $$$
    I know I sound like a recruiter but I am just a very happy Trucker. ( a rareity it seems these days)
    Good luck to all you guys and have a merry Christmas and a happy and prosperous New Year

  21. K. M. says

    The thing is someone who wants to become an over the road driver cannot count intrastate transport of less than 150 miles from their home terminal as experience. Local drivers are not the same as over the road, long haul or cross country drivers. They don’t ever need a commercial license. But for any reason if the local driver wants to become a long haul driver, will their bad driving record be considered when they apply for a CDL? That’s the question.
    If their records are not evaluated, then they can apply and get a CDL without any points against them. They can have 20 wrecks as a local driver but it will not affect their ability to be hired over the road.
    On the other hand, if insurance companies and trucking companies see all these violations, then the driver may never get another job outside of being a local driver. So getting a CDL would be a wasted amount of time and money.

  22. lester says

    i am laid off from my job. well i been trying to get in a company paid training to get my cdl. i live in pennsylvania, i want to get my cdl so bad but the thing is i just can’t get the money up for the addmission fee’s, permit fee’s, testing fee’s, plus i also need the money for my meals for 4 to 6 weeks. being on unemployment i just don’t have the money and plus i have a wife and 2 children i have to take care of … my family is the main reason why i want my cdl so i can get a good job and provide for them the way i should, and so i can give my children a better life growing up then i had growing up… i tried to get funding through the state to go to cdl school for training, and they all told me that it will take 8 monthes to a year for me to get the funding for the cdl trianing and then they told me i might not even get it after waiting all that time to see if i get it. i think i am ready ,i been taking pratice test on the computer and i been ranging form a 83% to a 97% on the practice test.. but i am still going to try to find a way to get the cdl training. i want to go to a cdl school or company paid training so i know i get the proper training to be a good truck driver. my wife and my 2 children are the main reason why i am driving myself so hard to find a way to get my cdl,, they come first i come last.. i tank every one for your time for reading this. i remain hopeful so i am going to keep trying no matter what. have a good day

    • DukeOfEarl says

      Lester, I get that you are in hot pursuit of a job in trucking so as to provide better for your family, but…… and it’s a big BUT….. the trucking industry is the biggest bunch of liars and (paycheck) thieves you will ever find. None of the promises made by recruiters will be put in writing for you, and the promises will not be kept. You will be paid about 5 cent per mile less than they promise, get about half the home time they promise, and so on. Plus, as a rookie, you will have legal expenses and tickets to pay; you will be shocked how draconian some states such as California will fine you. Now if you have a wife to support you, you can afford to get into trucking, but if its the other way around then its not going to work. I speak from 15 years and 2 million miles experience with 8 carriers, pulling mostly reefers, but also flatbeds, dry vans, farm beds, belly dumps, medical trailers (MRI scanners and CAT scanners), and now pulling oil tankers. The only reason I could afford starting out in the late 90s was that I was single and put all my things in storage and had no bills to pay. Things are much worse now than when I started, so really, you can make as much or more money driving your car for Uber than you will as a rookie driver. I know you won’t want to believe me, because its nice to live the dream the recruiters pitch to you, but…. as I said before… the truth is you will never find such liars and (paycheck) thieves as you will in the trucking industry. Don’t say you weren’t warned. But if you gotta pursue this then I would recommend you start with driving farm trucks during fall harvest; they always need drivers so bad they will train a rookie, and then you go from there. Good luck to you.

  23. Ryan says

    Your not entirely correct. There are a few trucking companies that take new drivers fresh out of whatever, and not have to do their “school”. The company I work for is one such company. My county paid for my school and license, got hired on with this company, and just passed my 1 year mark with it. I can leave at any time and don’t owe a thing.

    And I actively avoid NY driving..

  24. Mac says

    I love how most of the comments aren’t about safety, they’re about how much personal effort each driver expended to get their CDL. I get it, you paid your dues, you don’t like cheaters. But the real question is whether those dues were justified in the first place.

    Today’s trucks just aren’t that hard to drive.

  25. Matt says

    the media strikes again. people putting people out of work. the thinking is it will create more work for them. the reality is: it does nothing at all. it doesn’t even give them peace of mind. just creates more problems and a higher cost of living for everyone.

  26. mike says

    No big deal at least they are spared being federally assaulted at every ave. there are more than enough jobs for us. And being intrastate they should be ok asking as they are not on the interstate.

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