Getting Started In Trucking With Felonies

Topic 26134 | Page 1

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Wilde's Comment
member avatar

Hello everyone. I've been lurking on this site for a couple months now and finally decided to introduce myself. My name is Mike and I'm working on starting my career as a truck driver. I have multiple felonies for drugs and 12 years left on parole. After doing 7 years on my 20 year sentence I was released from Texas prison back in October of 2018. I know its going to be very difficult to get my foot in the door but I am determined to make it happen. It was far from easy, but I managed to become a trusty and get into one of the two truck driving schools that are available to very well behaved Texas inmates. My class C had been suspended for a no insurance ticket right before I went to prison but with help from my family and much prayer I was able to pay fines, surcharges and get it reinstated just in time to test and get my CDL in January of 2017. Being a trusty and having a CDL would have allowed me to get a job as an inmate truck driver and actually get some real training and drive out on the road. Texas doesn't pay inmates at all, for any job, but yes, they actually allow some inmates with a CDL to drive their own truck. We would always be on a route following a TDCJ employee (non inmate) driving the truck ahead of us, but still a huge amount of freedom and responsibility for any inmate. But only days after getting my CDL I received notice from TXDPS that my license would be suspended again unless i provided proof of SR-22 insurance. (Texas requires you to carry SR-22 insurance for six months after being suspended for no insurance.) As bad as i wanted to drive a truck like the handful of my classmates who actually got their CDL (about a third of the 30 student class) it just wasn't practical to have my family purchase the insurance required to keep my license from being suspended. I had to settle for the fact that I at least attained my CDL in spite of the many obstacles I was faced with. Believe me, I still felt truly blessed and fortunate. Since my release I have managed to get my CDL reinstated and even found a job driving a Class A rig for a mobile home delivery and set-up company. Found the job by posting an ad on craigslist. (I recommend craigslist for anyone in my situation, I had several job offers from the one ad I posted.) I've been with that company for nearly 9 months now and even though I'm not making much money, I've gained some experience and even managed to use my bosses truck to retest and get the no manual transmission restriction taken off my license. Setting mobile homes is very labor intensive; believe me. Much more construction type work than actual driving. I have worked really hard for my current employer and he has been good to me in return. But he's known all along this job was a step towards driving full-time and now its time to move on. I cant remember how I stumbled across this forum but I was intrigued from day one. I have found so much information here on TruckingTruth and continue to find more every day. Mr. Aquila, you have done an amazing job here and all the moderators and experienced drivers I see posting over and over again, thank you as well. All of us just starting out are extremely fortunate to have you taking the time to share your experiences and advice with us. This forum is all about facts and straight forward advice and that's exactly what I'm looking for. This has been long winded enough, I'm sure many people moved on before reading it all, so I will stop here and ask what I'd like an opinion on in my next post.

CDL:

Commercial Driver's License (CDL)

A CDL is required to drive any of the following vehicles:

  • Any combination of vehicles with a gross combined weight rating (GCWR) of 26,001 or more pounds, providing the gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of the vehicle being towed is in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any single vehicle with a GVWR of 26,001 or more pounds, or any such vehicle towing another not in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any vehicle, regardless of size, designed to transport 16 or more persons, including the driver.
  • Any vehicle required by federal regulations to be placarded while transporting hazardous materials.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

Wilde's Comment
member avatar

So I had this one job offer that sounds good, maybe too good, so I'd like some opinions on it. Guy responded to my craigslist ad saying he's an owner/op hauling frac sand offering me a job that demands 3 weeks out and home for 1 week and he will pay me $1800 a week. I say right off that Im still on parole and have no actual tractor trailer experience but I'd like to talk more. He says the contract is in New Mexico, the facility has a shower and his truck is a two bunk sleeper 12 spd automatic. It’s a cash position so I will do my own taxes but his company has benefits to offer if im interested. I'm thinking he's wanting to pay someone contract labor to run teams with him on his own truck but he said no as long as my mvr and application clears through his company, I would do orientation one day and running solo and making money the next. Has anyone here heard of this sort of arrangement? Maybe its an oilfield thing?

MVR:

Motor Vehicle Record

An MVR is a report of your driving history, as reported from your state Department of Motor Vehicles. Information on this report may include Drivers License information, point history, violations, convictions, and license status on your driving record.

Pete B.'s Comment
member avatar

Yes, it absolutely is oilfield work. I’ve delivered chemicals to several oil towns, and what he told you is consistent with what I’ve heard. The money can be good... very good, but the work can dry up in an instant. It’s a gamble. More so in your case as you mentioned you’re getting paid cash; you can be cut loose for looking sideways.

I think you can trust what he told you; you just need to decide if you’re willing to roll the dice here, as this opportunity has a nice financial upside, but is very risky.

OOS:

When a violation by either a driver or company is confirmed, an out-of-service order removes either the driver or the vehicle from the roadway until the violation is corrected.

PackRat's Comment
member avatar

Welcome to the Trucking Truth site! Congratulations on your new start, too, so make the best of it and don’t go back.

That cash job is a “1099 Job”, where you will be responsible for your own taxes, fees and withholdings, so $1800 is going to end up being about $1000. Seriously. In your unique position, it may be the best you can get for now, while you are building your resume and banking the experience (months) that future employers are wanting.

You mentioned parole, so are you going to be allowed to leave the state to work?

Wilde's Comment
member avatar

Thanks for the reply guys. Yes I agree its a gamble. It's certainly tempting to get that kind of money every week before I even learn how to get the most out of my HOS. I did the 1099 thing when i was younger working in construction and wound up owing back taxes for years. I'm a lot more responsible now but I'd still rather not deal with all that. I'm waiting to see if his company will even approve my application first. Hopefully something a little less risky will come along. One of the bigger otr companies reviewed my app and wanted to know when I could come to their orientation in Tennessee but I'm leery of letting a recruiter tell me I'm good and driving all that way to get turned down. I'm not ruling anything out yet, just trying to find all the options I can as I know mine are especially limited.

As for traveling on parole it's tricky but doable. My PO says if I give him the two furthest delivery addresses east and west he would issue me a permit for each and I could travel anywhere in between. Problem is they must be renewed every thirty days and I have to pick them up in person. If I'm otr I would have to get home time at some point before they expire and need a couple days to renew for another month. Tricky because I CANNOT be out of Texas after they expire but certainly doable I think.

OTR:

Over The Road

OTR driving normally means you'll be hauling freight to various customers throughout your company's hauling region. It often entails being gone from home for two to three weeks at a time.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

Wilde's Comment
member avatar

I've been serious about job searching and turning in applications for about 3 weeks now and I've had several offers from people who say they're okay with my criminal history, even parole, so long as my application & mvr get approved. (from what I've gathered reading on this forum that pretty much means if their insurance will accept me)

So far only one company, small and here in Texas has actually reviewed my app and ran my mvr and said "yes we will hire you when can you start?" The big company in Nashville seemed more like the recruiter was just saying my app checked out okay just to get me to come to orientation.

I will be available to start Aug 1st. I have some family business we are dealing with this month. Also, my boss had a really hard time finding a cdl driver to actually show up to replace me so I'm staying well past my 2 week (2 month really) notice to help him out.

I know I have to take whatever chance I'm given at this point but is there any way to make sure I'm approved for a company's insurance before actually going to orientation? I realize nothing is for sure in this world but I would greatly appreciate any advice on the best way to minimize driving all the way to orientation and being turned down.

Thanks in advance as I would appreciate anyone's opinion on my situation.

CDL:

Commercial Driver's License (CDL)

A CDL is required to drive any of the following vehicles:

  • Any combination of vehicles with a gross combined weight rating (GCWR) of 26,001 or more pounds, providing the gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of the vehicle being towed is in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any single vehicle with a GVWR of 26,001 or more pounds, or any such vehicle towing another not in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any vehicle, regardless of size, designed to transport 16 or more persons, including the driver.
  • Any vehicle required by federal regulations to be placarded while transporting hazardous materials.

MVR:

Motor Vehicle Record

An MVR is a report of your driving history, as reported from your state Department of Motor Vehicles. Information on this report may include Drivers License information, point history, violations, convictions, and license status on your driving record.

Rob T.'s Comment
member avatar

Typically as long as you're honest on your application you'll be good. The companies go off what you have on your application and wait to do the more stringent background checks once you're there. They wouldn't buy you a bus ticket to orientation just to send you home. I understand your concern but as long as you're truthful on the application I dont think you have anything to worry about.

Susan D. 's Comment
member avatar

If you don't meet their hiring standards, they wouldn't have asked you (invited you to the party) to orientation. You mentioned Nashville.. it wouldn't happen to be Western Express would it? They do hire felons and are known as a second chance company. They're probably well versed in the requirements for an OTR driver on parole.

I'm hoping Old School will drop in here as he got his start with Western Express.

OTR:

Over The Road

OTR driving normally means you'll be hauling freight to various customers throughout your company's hauling region. It often entails being gone from home for two to three weeks at a time.

Wilde's Comment
member avatar

Rob, Susan, Thanks for your input. It eases my mind a little and encourages me some as well.

Yes the company in Nashville is Western Express. It was back around July 4th that I applied and talked to their recruiter. As soon as he asked when I could come to Nashville for orientation I let him know it would be closer to the end of the month before I would actually be ready. He said to get back to him as soon as I'm ready to go. If I remember correctly, he had my application to review for about 24 hrs before that last conversation, so I assume he did have time to do the initial BG check or whatever they do prior to an invite.

From your advice and what I've found in older threads on this topic, the best thing I can do is be completely up front on my app and voice my greatest concerns during the phone conversation. Then if I get the invite, just go for it and discuss what comes up after that as calmly and professionally as I can.

Its just that my past seems so bad when I actually start describing it in detail. I went to prison for drugs in 2004 and again this last time in 2011 and both times I had multiple drug charges that were ran concurrently in a plea agreement. It makes for 11 felonies total.

I am determined to make this career happen even though I know it will be even tougher for me starting out. Again, I appreciate everyone's opinions, whether I like them or not, I welcome them all.

I have a lot of respect and appreciation for the truth and purpose of this forum so if I'm able, I plan to post constant, truthful updates on the ups and downs of my journey as it plays out. I'm sure I will face many obstacles and likely make plenty of mistakes along the way but I will not be giving up. I would like to think maybe someone in a similar situation as mine could benefit from reading about it.

Thanks

Old School's Comment
member avatar

I started my career at Western Express and did really well there. That recruiter doesn't get a dime for recruiting you until you get hired. Then I think there's a couple more benchmarks he'll get paid for if you stick it out. So... I think you have an opportunity there.

Remember this... orientation is a very long interview process in their eyes. There's people watching you and observing you all the time. If they tell you don't drink during orientation - they mean it. I saw multiple groups get sent home because the company placed spies in the local nearby bars and clubs. If you were seen in these you just lost your opportunity.

Take orientation serious, don't even associate with anybody who seems to be flippant about it. Even the people you hang out with may get you thrown out. Put your head down and make it happen.

I'd personally go with Western Express over that small outfit. You're going to really have to work out something with that parole situation though. That is going to be really tough to make happen every month, and it's got to or... well you know the ramifications.

Best of luck to ya bruttha!

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