If you hold a commercial drivers license (CDL) and you are pulled over on suspicion of DUI, you face a very different process than other drivers. Key differences with a commercial driver DUI include:
- The “legal limit” for your blood alcohol level is much stricter in some cases—.04% BAC
- You could lose your CDL and your ability to work for a full year, or even for life
- Your CDL is in danger even if you were off the job, driving your own personal vehicle
Any commercial driver needs to take a DUI charge very seriously. It can be a career-ending event. But there are a number of strategies that a DUI lawyer can use to fight for you, and in many cases you could end up with no DUI on your record at all.
What counts as a DUI for commercial drivers?
It depends on what vehicle you were driving, and what specific law you are charged with breaking.
If you were driving a commercial vehicle at the time of your DUI arrest, you will likely be charged under California Vehicle Code 23152(d). This law is very strict, and it allows you to be convicted of DUI if your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) was .04% or above. For many people, one drink is enough to put them over the .04% limit.
However, if you are driving your own personal vehicle, the .04% limit does not apply and you will be charged with a different law. The most common offenses are:
- Driving with a BAC of .08% or greater
- Driving under the influence (signs of “impairment” regardless of BAC)
- Driving under the influence of drugs
- DUI under 21
- DUI causing injury
Each of these offenses carries its own penalties, in addition to its effect on your CDL.
How does my DUI affect my CDL?
Your CDL will be suspended if you are convicted of any DUI offense—regardless of what vehicle you were driving. This is part of California’s rules for commercial driver safety, which count any DUI, even “off the clock,” against your CDL.
If you are convicted:
- You will lose your CDL for 1 year on a first-time DUI charge
- You will lose your CDL for life if this is not your first DUI
Are my regular driving privileges also affected?
Yes. Unfortunately, California’s CDL safety rules are essentially a two-way street. Getting a DUI in a private vehicle affects your commercial driving privileges, and getting a DUI in a commercial vehicle affects your private driving privileges. Your license will be suspended across the board, not just for one purpose or the other.
However, you may be able to get a personal drivers license reinstated much sooner than a CDL. The suspension period for a first-time DUI, for example, can be as short as 4 months—much shorter than the year it takes to get your CDL back. And getting your CDL revoked for life does not mean you will never be able to drive again.
The length of suspension for your personal driver’s license is generally:
- Less than a year for a 1st DUI
- 2 years for a 2nd DUI
- 3 years for a 3rd DUI
It can be more in some circumstances.
How to Keep Your CDL
Just because you are charged with DUI does not mean you will be convicted. And if you aren’t convicted, you won’t lose your CDL. This is also true if you can get your case downgraded to a much less serious charge.
A good DUI lawyer will use several strategies to fight your case:
- Challenging whether the arrest was legal
- Using police mistakes to get evidence suppressed
- Challenging the breath or blood test used to “prove” you were impaired
In many cases, any one of these strategies is enough to suppress evidence against you and help you win your case. Your DUI arrest does not have to be the end of your career.
Have you been charged with DUI? We can connect you with an experienced Los Angeles DUI lawyer and get you a FREE consultation. Fill out the form to the right or call (310) 862-0199 and get your free consultation today.