Undocumented Immigrants & Commercial Driver Licenses

Undocumented ImmigrantsAny kind of commercial driving in the U.S. requires not just a driver’s license but a commercial driver’s license as well, otherwise known as a CDL. It doesn’t matter whether one is a taxi driver, parcel driver or a big rig transport driver, a CDL has to be on record, valid and active. This is where there is a lot of confusion as a number of states will allow undocumented immigrants in the U.S. to have a regular driver’s license but not a CDL. However, there is inconsistency from state to state, and the driver’s license regulation remains at the state level versus federal.

Normal CDL Availability and an Exception

For folks who are either citizens, approved residents (i.e., green card holders), or nationals, a CDL is available with the proper paperwork filed and application. For those who do not meet any of these categories, the CDL is often out of reach.

However, there is one particular exception, and this is known as the non-domiciled CDL. This avenue has been made available to address the need for labor shortages, allowing workers to drive with a CDL and be employed even though they are undocumented immigrants. While, on its face the scenario seems like a conflict, the rule has been provided to make it possible for those with a work permit or employment authorization document (EAD) to drive legally in the U.S. Immigration attorneys Tampa FL representation often uses it for CDL cases.

The non-domiciled CDL isn’t a perfect solution, but it does give undocumented immigrants the ability to drive for some employers. For example, those in the exception category won’t be allowed to drive and transport hazardous materials. Additionally, what works in one state may not in another, so drivers need to be aware of which state they will be transport in or through before taking on the route assignment.

The NAFTA Legacy

An additional and more common exception is the CDL recognition for both licensed Canadian and Mexican commercial drivers. Those who have CDLs approved and authorized benefit from laws that give them national permission to drive on U.S. routes, a product of the North American Free Trade Act or NAFTA, which was enacted by Congress in the 1990s.

Representation Makes a Huge Difference

For those who don’t fall in either category, the best place to start is with an immigration lawyer near Tampa Bay if in the greater area. The last place anyone should want to be is risking getting caught driving a commercial vehicle without a proper CDL in place. The penalties can be severe, and highway patrols in various states are regularly on the lookout for vehicles and drivers moving through jurisdictions in violation. Expert immigration lawyers Lakeland FL resources can review what area a person will be driving in, which state laws will apply, and what’s going to be needed to get in the clear with a working CDL for a driver.

The Espinoza Law Offices P.A. have been a regular proponent and counsel for drivers who need to have an operating CDL for a living income and means of earning, including the ability to drive on the interstate and across state lines without issues about proper licensing. As both a business immigration attorney resource and family immigration lawyer, the Espinoza Law Offices have regularly helped folks from all backgrounds square away their ability to work and stay in the U.S. without worrying about arrest or the last-minute need for a deportation defense lawyer. It simply makes good sense to start off right with one’s driving authorization and legal protections. Call or email to find out more.