What Is Generally Entailed In A CDL DUI Case?
Commercial driver’s licenses are treated differently than a regular driver’s license in the DUI field. I have been handling DUI cases involving commercials driver’s licenses for well over 31 years. They are dealt with differently specifically by the Department of Motor Vehicles. If someone has a lower Blood Alcohol level than 0.04 with a commercial driver’s license. They are subject to, it’s like having a 0.08 with a regular non-commercial license in the criminal courts. For DMV purposes the big difference is the penalties. So if you have a commercial driver’s license and if you lose your administrative per se hearing for the Department of Motor Vehicles in California, you are looking at losing your commercial driving privileges for one year or more.
That’s something where it’s not automatic that you are going to get it back. They are going to examine the case when you are going to re-apply and especially if you have HAZMAT tags and other types of commercial privileges, it can be even tougher to get the commercial license back.
Are Commercial Driver’s License Holders Subject To Additional Rules Of The Road?
They do have additional responsibilities as I was just alluding to. You cannot have as much alcohol in your system as you are driving. To put it in perspective, impairment according to most expert witnesses and toxicologists that testify for the prosecution in these cases will say that most people are impaired on a 0.05. So we are talking about 0.04 which is a level below impairment and that’s a very low standard. The reason for that is these are very heavy fast moving vehicles that can cause a lot more damage than a regular car or truck in an accident and so these drivers are held to a much higher standard when they have a commercial license. They go through more training for that as well.
This is why the commercial license is treated so much stricter. The penalties are not just a year of no driving but if you get a second DUI, you are never going to get a commercial license again. Whether you didn’t have one before or whether you had one when you got the DUI, whether you were driving a commercial vehicle, it doesn’t matter. Two DUIs and you are banned for life from having a commercial driver’s license in the state of California.
Can CDL Holders Be Penalized In Some Way For Having A BAC Below 0.04?
Typically we do not see that. In fact it’s very rare where I see that someone who is in a commercial vehicle getting a DUI and all I do is DUI defense and I’ve represented thousands of people. Typically, what I see that if someone is in a regular vehicle or a Class C vehicle or on a motorcycle getting a DUI. People who are driving commercial vehicles are so much more careful about it. Typically someone who gets a DUI in a commercial vehicle, who is falling all over the place is somebody who probably had a lot to drink, went to sleep, and woke up, felt okay and then they drove.
However, the interesting thing, at least, in the San Francisco Bay Area in San Francisco, there was a case we did in the last couple of years where we had someone who was driving a large fire truck hit a motorcycle and got felony charges for injuring the person on the motorcycle. That one made the news. Recently I was in the news again, however that was the type of thing that I wouldn’t call a fluke but you don’t see it very often and when you do it’s obviously true that it’s an extreme situation.
How Do CDL DUI Charges Differ From Normal DUI Charges In Terms Of Consequences?
The consequences are similar to a commercial license versus a non-commercial license. The big difference is the 0.04 which leads to the charge. It’s a lot tougher for the DA’s office to prove impairment in that someone is well over the 0.04, the individual is not going to have that many problems on a field sobriety test at a lower blood alcohol level. Penalty wise what we are talking about is your commercial license will go away, someone will have their commercial license suspended for a year and it’s very difficult to get it back. If it’s a second offense, someone is looking at a lifetime ban and those are the big differences. It’s much harder to prove a DUI with a commercial license.
However if the jury sees that someone who is driving a commercial vehicle up to the limit, they are not going to be very tolerant because someone is putting everyone at danger by getting behind the wheel of a big rig and driving. Again, the big difference is just the numbers. As far as penalties go and everything else it’s an issue of the maximum jail time on a first offense is still six months in jail and the fines are the same. For a first offense, the probation is typically a three to five year probation with most people in most counties getting 3 years if they are convicted or if they plead guilty and restitution if any. That doesn’t change. They are still responsible for that. They still have to do the same type of a DUI School. The only additional hoop that someone may have to jump through with a commercial license is DMV may put them through extra tasks or show additional things.
They may want medical, they may want them to retake a test to get their commercial license back. I’ve seen DMV come down harder on people with commercial licenses when they are trying to get them reinstated. Now what people need to know is that if they have a commercial license and they get a DUI that is in a commercial vehicle or in their own vehicle, if they are convicted and have their commercial license suspended for a year, they can still get a non-commercial or Class C back or their motorcycle license back after typically one month of no driving followed by 5 months of work restricted driving and they can have their Class C or motorcycle back. That restricted license would be conditional for work and DUI School. They would have to have the SR-22, that’s the high risk insurance, proof of the DUI School to get a restricted license would need to be seen by DMV and that is sent to the DMV electronically when you enroll in a DUI school.
Then there would be a Re-issue fee that someone would have to pay to the DMV and then they would get a license after 30 days of no driving and that’s when you apply. After the 30 days of no driving. The license that they get for their Class C vehicle would spell restricted on it.
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