Idaho State Supreme Court rules on lifetime CDL ban

November 2019

Tyson Fisher


The Idaho Supreme Court affirmed a lower court’s decision to uphold a lifetime CDL ban. The high court determined what it means to be a “CDL holder” within both state and federal regulations.

According to court documents, Bruce Allen Edwards received his Class A CDL in March 2011. In April 2012, Edward was arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol.

Although that first arrest did not lead to a DUI conviction, Edwards did have his license suspended for 90 days. Consequently, his CDL privileges were revoked for one year from May 2012 to May 2013.

In January 2013, Edwards was arrested for a second DUI. This time, Edwards’ noncommercial license would be suspended for one year. His CDL privileges would be revoked for life, effective March 2013.

According to 49 CFR §383.51, “for a second conviction or refusal to be tested in a separate incident of (a DUI) while operating a non-CMV, a CLP or CDL holder must be disqualified from operating a CMV for life.”

While Edwards was litigating the suspensions, he was arrested for a third DUI in June 2013. The transportation department notified Edwards that it intended to impose a mandatory lifetime disqualification of his CDL.

Edwards argued that once his CDL was suspended for a year after the first DUI arrest in 2012, he was effectively stripped of his CDL, thereby no longer considering him “a holder of a CDL.”

Because neither the state nor federal regulation defines a “holder,” the high court turned to dictionary definitions instead.

“Accordingly, someone is no longer a holder of a license once they are divested of ownership or possession of the license,” the court concluded. “An examination of Title 49 as a whole discloses that there is a distinction between a license and the privileges granted by that license. Because of this distinction, Edwards was still a ‘holder of a CDL’ at the relevant times.”

Essentially, Edwards’ ability to drive a commercial vehicle was revoked but he still maintained ownership of a CDL. LL

Tyson Fisher

Tyson Fisher joined Land Line Magazine in March 2014. An award-winning journalist and tireless researcher, his news reports, features and blogs bring depth to our editorial content, backed with solid detail. Tyson is a lifelong Kansas Citian.