Getting a DUI While Driving a Commercial Vehicle
Commercial drivers have a great deal of responsibility. There are currently 3.9 million CDL holders in the United States, and these men and women deliver 70% of all freight. This includes things like produce, building supplies - anything you can imagine, they drive it!
Those who hold a CDL are typically bus drivers, long-haul truckers, or haul heavy equipment. They not only must always be alert on the road, but aware of additional dangers and issues that non-commercial drivers do not encounter. They may be carrying cargo that could be disastrous if spilled. Or they’re a bus driver with a vehicle full of young children, who they must keep an eye on while driving.
Due to their increased responsibilities, DUIs often have harsher consequences for commercially licensed drivers.
What are the Standards for CDL Holders and DUI?
The standards for Commercial Driving License holders and DUI were established by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). They are far stricter than typical DUI standards. Here is how they differ:
- Lower blood alcohol content limit: the typical threshold for DUI is a blood alcohol content of .08 percent (except in Utah, where it is .05 percent). For commercial drivers, this threshold is lowered to .04 percent.
- Random alcohol testing: CDL holders may be subject to random alcohol testing, testing following an accident, following any incident where alcohol use is suspected, and as a condition of returning to work after a violation.
- Time limit between drinking and driving: CDL drivers are required by law to wait four hours to begin driving after they drink alcohol.
- Additional drug screening: for CDL drivers, submission to random drug testing is often a condition of employment.
- Harsher penalties for refusal to test: refusal to test if you have a CDL is typically considered an admission of guilt and will result in a DUI conviction.
These higher standards exist because of the higher stakes encountered by CDL holders at work. These penalties pertain to the CDL license itself. Employers may decide to take additional measures, including a suspension from work, demotion, or firing the employee.
What are the DUI Penalties for CDL Holders?
The penalties for drivers with a CDL license are similar to those for all drivers, but the consequences of those penalties are more impactful. If they are on the clock or driving a company vehicle, it’s very likely the consequences would be immediate termination and perhaps other serious impacts, like loss of pension or other work benefits.
However, there are still serious consequences for CDL holders who drive under the influence off the clock or in their own personal vehicle.
Generally, anyone convicted of DUI with a CDL, whether they are on the clock or off, is subject to these consequences:
- Fines: fine amounts vary by state, but DUI convictions come with a financial penalty anywhere between a few hundred or a few thousand dollars, depending on various factors surrounding the incident, like injury, death, or excessive BAC.
- Community service or prison time: Many states require mandatory prison time for DUI convictions, and typically assign short sentences. In many cases, these sentences are converted or replaced with required community service.
- License suspension: this is a common penalty for anyone with a DUI, but for CDL holders, it can be devastating. A DUI conviction means they cannot drive, which impacts their livelihood. Additionally, some states do not allow for CDL holders to maintain their commercial license if convicted, and many employers will not allow offenders back to work.
- Required employer notification: commercial drivers are required to notify their employer within 30 days of the offense, even if it occurred off duty.
- Off-duty consequences: Commercial drivers convicted of DUI while driving their personal vehicle can still have their CDL suspended, leaving them unable to work. Employers are not allowed to have them return during the suspension period, and the conviction makes it hard to get another job.
What Should I Do if I Drive for Work and Have Been Convicted of DUI?
Most CDL holders drive for a living, so it’s particularly important to stay on top of any issues with your license. Unfortunately, a DUI conviction is something you will need to share with your employer, and it may impact your employment. It will be challenging, but we are here to support you. Here’s what you need to do:
- Contact an attorney — many attorneys specialize in DUI issues and have a great deal of experience with them. They will help ensure your interests are represented. If you’re unsure where to start, Intoxalock partners with many attorneys all over the country. You can find a local attorney to help you.
- Notify your employer — it’s required to do this within 30 days, but it’s probably best to get it done as soon as possible. Then you will know what their consequences will be, which will be helpful to know prior to your court date.
- Contact Intoxalock state specialists — state specialists can help guide you through the entire process. They’re aware of the process in your area and can connect you with resources and share what to expect with you.
- Ask for help — it’s likely this could be a difficult time for you. You may lose your employment, your CDL, and potentially your regular driver’s license as well. Ask for support from friends and family, so you can weather this challenging period successfully.
Following this procedure should allow you to handle the consequences of your DUI in the best way possible. If you have any questions, Intoxalock state specialists are available 24/7 via phone and chat.