DUI & Your CDL (Commercial Driver’s License)

Semi truck trailer driver under the influence in Tucson and I-10 can lose license

Arizona interstates are teeming with commercial drivers, including many commercial drivers from out of state. When you drive for a living, a DUI charge can be devastating. If you have a commercial driver's license (CDL), Arizona (like every other state) holds you to a much higher standard when it comes to safety and Arizona DUI laws relating to CDL-holders are no exception. So what are the affects of a DUI on your CDL?

How A CDL DUI Is Different

Arizona DUI laws deal with commercial drivers differently from both and criminal and administrative perspective. When it comes to DUI, Arizona treats all CDLs the same way regardless of whether you have a Class A, Class B, or Class C license. A CDL DUI is basically the same as a regular DUI but with a few key differences.

If you are actually driving a commercial vehicle when charged with a DUI, then the legal limit for alcohol is only half what it would normally be. Generally, having a blood or breath alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 is against the law and results in the presumption that you are intoxicated. For a CDL-holder driving a commercial vehicle, it is only a .04 BAC. The mandatory fines and fees in these cases are also higher than for a normal DUI. On top of that, a DUI will result in a one-year suspension of your CDL.

If you have a CDL and are driving a personal vehicle, then the .08 limit still applies. However, the administrative one-year CDL suspension also still applies. This is in addition to the normal 90-day suspension of your normal driver's license. This turns into a 12-month suspension if you refused to take a breath or blood test. The other court-imposed DUI penalties for a CDL holder are the same as for anyone else.

A second DUI conviction will result in a LIFETIME suspension of your CDL! And it doesn't matter whether you had your CDL at the time of your first conviction or not.

Collateral Consequences Of DUI For Commercial Drivers

Of course, the penalties imposed by the state for a DUI conviction are only part of the consequences commercial drivers face when they are convicted of DUI. Employers are usually very strict when it comes to DUI convictions. A commercial driver with a suspended license is not worth much. A DUI conviction also indicates to employers that you may put the company's expensive property and equipment in jeopardy. Moreover, it will likely cause the employer's insurance rates to skyrocket. Because of all this, many employers have a zero tolerance policy when it comes to their CDL employees and DUI. Needless to say, a DUI can seriously jeopardize a CDL holder's career.

Getting Your CDL After A DUI

If you have been convicted of DUI, you can still regain your CDL in Arizona. You must first complete the original license suspension before applying for your CDL, otherwise your application will be denied. When you submit your application, you should be honest about the prior DUI conviction. If you don't, the MVD will find out about it anyway and deny your application.

Defending CDL DUIs

Defending commercial DUIs is really no different than defending any DUI. An experienced Arizona DUI lawyer can analyze your case from every angle, looking for mistakes that were made and legal issues that can be leveraged to your benefit. Sometimes it is possible to negotiate a favorable plea agreement. Some cases are best handled by filing pre-trial motions to dismiss. In others cases a jury trial is the best option. A Tucson commercial DUI lawyer will be able to lead you down the path most likely to result in a favorable outcome. Of course, it's important to find someone with a demonstrable track record of success.

A commercial DUI lawyer should also be able to represent you before the MVD in an attempt to avoid the administrative suspension of your license.

* This blog is published by Tucson DUI and criminal defense lawyer Nathan D. Leonardo. Nothing on this website is intended to create an attorney-client relationship. The information provided herein does not constitute legal advice, but is for general information purposes only. If you have a legal question, you can contact us online or call (520) 314-4125.

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