23152 (d) It is unlawful for any person who has 0.04 percent or more, by weight, of alcohol in his or her blood to drive a commercial motor vehicle, as defined in Section 15210.
In California, any DUI can affect your commercial drivers license (CDL). However, if you are actually driving a commercial vehicle at the time of your DUI arrest, you face much stricter laws than you would in a private vehicle. VC 23152(d) is the law that sets forward these restrictions.
The main difference between VC 23152(d) and other DUI laws is the blood alcohol threshold or “legal limit.” In most DUI cases, you will only be convicted if your blood alcohol level (BAC) is .08% or above, or if you show clear signs of impairment. If you were in a commercial vehicle, however, the limit is only half that—.04%. This BAC limit is so tight that many people would be in violation after having just one alcoholic drink. In fact, you could be over .04% even if you feel sober the morning after a night of drinking.
What are the penalties and how does this law affect my CDL?
On its own, the penalties for VC 23152(d) are similar to those for other DUI laws, and include:
- Jail time (up to 6 months for a first offense)
- DUI classes (typically 3 months for a first offense)
- Fines of up to $1000
- 3-5 years probation
However, California also has special safety rules for anyone who holds a CDL. Under these rules,
- You will lose your CDL for 1 year on a first time DUI
- You will lose your CDL forever if you have prior DUIs
These penalties apply whether you are convicted under VC 23152(d) or a different DUI law, and they apply even if you were not driving a commercial vehicle at the time of the arrest.
How a DUI Affects a Commercial Driver
Because of the strict rules around CDLs, commercial drivers can suffer more from a DUI than almost any other group. The .04% threshold simply makes it too easy to be convicted, and even a first time conviction effectively puts you out of work for a full year. This situation is even more complicated because caffeine pills and other stimulants, which long-distance truckers often use to get through long shifts, can count as a DUI of drugs. No other professional group stands to lose as much from a single DUI charge as drivers do. This is why it’s so important that any commercial driver accused of DUI speak to a lawyer immediately.
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