What having a CDL means in a DUI stop

Dec 21, 2017 | drunk driving, traffic violations for commercial driver's license holders

When you went through truck driving school and got your CDL, your instructors may have told you that you must meet a higher standard than non-commercial motorists who do not have this type of license. That probably made sense to you since your vehicle and cargo are often bigger and more dangerous than the groceries in the back of your neighbor’s car.

Whether you forgot or didn’t realize, this also means that you must meet a higher standard when it comes to drinking and driving as well. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration established regulations regarding the blood alcohol concentration limits of commercial drivers, and most states follow these rules.

What does the FMCSA say about BAC?

As a commercial driver with a valid CDL, an officer can place you under arrest for DUI — called an OVI here in Ohio — if your breath test results indicate that you have a BAC of .04 or higher. The only requirement to conduct the test is an officer’s reasonable suspicion. If you refuse to submit to the breath test, you could face harsher penalties than if you did not have a CDL. In fact, according to the FMSCA, you pleaded guilty when you refused to take the test.

You may notice that this limit is half of the current limit for non-commercial drivers. The rules also restrict you from driving before the expiration of four hours after consuming alcohol.

What does the FMCSA say about DUI charges?

If convicted of OVI, you face the same penalties as non-commercial drivers. However, your license suspension will last longer. Obviously, since that license is also your livelihood, a conviction and license suspension jeopardize your employment and income. Your employer cannot employ you or schedule you to drive for the duration of the suspension.

If you lose your job due to a DUI conviction, you may find it challenging to find another job with the conviction on your record. Regulations also require you to inform your employer no later than 30 days after the incident. You may need to know that this applies not only to incidents in your truck but also in your personal vehicle on your time away from work.

What can I do about the DUI charges?

Like anyone else facing OVI charges, you retain the right to challenge them. A thorough review of the circumstances from the moment an officer stops you through your arrest may reveal some procedural mistake or violation of your rights that could affect the outcome of the charges. In any case, you may want to move quickly to secure experienced representation to advise you of your rights and help you find the path that leads to the best possible outcome.