DUI charges are always serious, but for those with commercial driver’s licenses, these accusations could endanger their entire livelihoods. The national drunk driving laws concerning commercial drivers are much more strict than other drunk driving laws, which is why it is so important for commercial license holders to fight these charges with the help of a skilled commercial DUI lawyer.
The Legal Limit for Commercial Drivers
Whereas the legal Blood Alcohol Content limit for an ordinary driver in most states, including California, is 0.08%, commercial drivers cannot drive if their BAC is above 0.04% in any state. This means commercial drivers can drink half as much as an average driver before receiving a DUI. In other words, drinking even one or two beers can leave most people over the legal limit.
While it’s simple enough to say, “well, I won’t drink while driving my rig,” it’s important to know that this rule still applies when these drivers are operating passenger vehicles. This is one of the many cases where you can end up in trouble if you talk to the police without a commercial DUI attorney present as many drivers mistakenly tell the police, “don’t worry, I’m off duty,” and inadvertently confess that they have been drinking.
Penalties for Commercial License DUIs
Those commercial drivers convicted of a DUI will lose their license for a full year and if they are convicted of the crime again, they will permanently lose their right to drive a freight vehicle. If the arrest occurred while the person was operating a hazardous materials truck, the first-time license suspension will last a full three years.
While you can still apply to receive a restricted driver’s license during this period, you cannot drive any vehicle requiring a commercial license, meaning you will be unable to work in your trade for a minimum of a year. That is why fighting the charges with a commercial DUI lawyer is a sound investment if you find yourself in this situation.
Even if the DUI charge is reduced in the court, the DMV will still suspend the commercial license for a year if they find the driver was over .04.
BAC of Drivers for Hire
While there are no nationwide laws instituting a lower BAC for drivers of Uber, limo, taxi or other passenger services, California law requires these drivers maintain a BAC below 0.04% while on the job. While this is the same legal limit as the one commercial drivers are subject to, these drivers for hire can have a higher BAC (though they still must stay under the 0.08% limit observed by all drivers) as long as they do not have a paying passenger in the vehicle.
If you have been accused of driving under the influence while operating a commercial vehicle, please call Peter M. Liss at (760) 643-4050.
Creative Commons Image by Seth W.