Penalties for DUI with a Commercial Driver’s License

man driving while drinking a beer

A commercial driver’s license (CDL) provides a means of earning a comfortable living with a flexible lifestyle. Your CDL could be one of your most valuable assets. Without it, you could not work as a trucker and might have trouble finding an equally lucrative driving job.

When you have been charged with driving under the influence (DUI), protecting your CDL must be among your top priorities. Working with a seasoned criminal defense lawyer from Grand Canyon Law Group can help mitigate the penalties for a DUI with a commercial driver’s license.

CDL Holders Must Meet a Stricter Standard

According to Arizona Revised Statute § 28-1381, you can face alcohol-related charges if your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is .04 or above while you are driving a commercial vehicle. When you are driving a car, the BAC of .08 applies. A conviction for DUI while operating a passenger vehicle, however, impacts the CDL just as it would if you had been operating a commercial vehicle.

If you are convicted of DUI while driving a commercial vehicle and it is your first offense, you face a minimum 10-day jail sentence and a minimum $1,250 fine. A judge could suspend all but one day of your jail sentence if you complete substance abuse screening and follow the screener’s recommendations. A second DUI offense carries a minimum three-month jail sentence and $3,000 fine. Penalties are even higher if your BAC exceeds .15.

In addition to fines, Arizona law imposes assessments and surcharges on people convicted of DUI. These additional financial penalties can reach thousands of dollars. Worst of all, because a conviction automatically leads to CDL suspension, you may lose your means of earning a living.

Impact of a DUI Conviction on Your Employment

DUI charges and convictions have a significant impact on a commercial driver’s career. One DUI conviction leads to an automatic one-year suspension of your CDL. Two DUI convictions mean permanent loss of your commercial license. One past DUI conviction does not prevent you from obtaining a CDL, but a second conviction will permanently suspend the CDL, even if you did not hold a CDL when convicted the first time.

Many transportation companies maintain a zero-tolerance policy regarding drinking and driving. In addition, federal regulations require CDL holders to inform their employer of any DUI convictions within 30 days, which means you could lose your job immediately and be disqualified from commercial driving.

Defending DUIs for CDL Holders

Challenging the accuracy of any tests administered roadside can lead prosecutors to dismiss charges. Raising issues such as whether the police had reasonable suspicion to pull you over and probable cause to administer a chemical test, or if they neglected to inform you of your rights, could lead a judge to dismiss charges.

If you are accused of DUI while operating a commercial vehicle, a DUI defense lawyer could question whether the vehicle you were driving met the definition of “commercial vehicle” under the law. Having a lawyer vigorously argue every possible defense can sometimes result in you keeping your commercial driver’s license despite a DUI arrest.

Fight a DUI Charge and Protect Your CDL With a Local Attorney

If you earn your living as a commercial driver and face a DUI charge, maintaining your livelihood could be a fight. The penalties for DUI with a commercial driver’s license include an automatic suspension of your CDL upon conviction. You need an aggressive defense attorney to manage your case and potentially save your way of life.

Do not try to defeat a DUI charge without an experienced lawyer from Grand Canyon Law Group representing you. Call now to discuss your circumstances with a knowledgeable advocate.