Drinking and driving is never a good idea, especially when the driver has a commercial driver’s license. While states imposed harsh punishments for driving under the influence of alcohol, DUI laws are typically more strict or commercial drivers. Anyone with a CDL should be aware of how DUI laws apply to them.
All states have “per se” DUI laws. Drivers can be charged with DUI as long as their blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) is over the legal limit, usually 0.08 percent. However, states typically have lower BAC requirements that apply to commercial drivers, usually about 0.04 percent.[/box]
Having a CDL doesn’t make a driver automatically subject to the state’s more stringent CDL laws. CDL drivers can be charged with the CDL portion of a state’s driving laws only when operating a commercial vehicle.[/box]
CDL drivers convicted of a DUI face the same criminal punishments for a conviction as other drivers. These typically include fines, jail time and sometimes mandatory substance abuse programs. The more times a driver has been convicted of a DUI, the stiffer the penalties.
Workers who make their living as commercial drivers face significant noncriminal punishments when convicted of a DUI. Typically, states will suspend the license of a driver charged with a DUI whether or not the driver is convicted of the crime in court. While other drivers face limited suspension periods, CDL drivers typically have their license suspended for at least a year on a first time conviction. Second convictions can bring a permanent revocation of a driver’s CDL.[/box]
Many states allow DUI defendants to obtain temporary driving privileges or working permits to allow them to drive to work or to take care of their children. CDL drivers charged with a DUI usually do not receive such an exception and can’t be allowed to work as a driver following a charge. However, these exceptions can sometimes be allowed for drivers in a nonprofessional capacity.[/box]