A commercial driver is generally a driver of trucks, buses, tow trucks, trailers and other vehicles meant to carry more than 16 persons or a vehicle like a truck meant to transport heavy materials. Such a driver requires a Commercial Driver’s License or CDL in order to operate such a vehicle with a gross vehicle weight rating of 26,001 Ib. For a Commercial Driving License, mandatory training is not necessary but the prospective driver must pass a test based on highway safety and to pass the driving skills test, the prospective candidate must pass a test of driving skills. Since these drivers operate these vehicles for living, a drunk driving arrest or drunk driving charges can have serious implications for their career and not to mention, their personal freedom.
If you have been charged or convicted with a DUI and are applying for a Commercial Driver’s License then the laws will vary from State to State but generally, the DUI conviction will have to be at least three years old before you can apply for a CDL. Least to say, a commercial driver will have to face more devastating consequences in case of a DUI arrest or conviction as compared to a non-commercial driver. This is because in addition to facing typical penalties and licensing consequences of drunk driving, the commercial driver will have to face the consequences at work as well. Remember that this can happen to you even if you were arrested at the time of driving a non-commercial vehicle.
Generally, if you are pulled over for a DUI arrest in any of the States of America, the police officer will confiscate your CDL and give you a temporary permit for driving. Once this happens, you will not be allowed to drive your commercial vehicle and someone else will have to take over for you while your DUI case is being dealt with. Most States in the country will employ Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) rules for the disqualification of a Commercial Driver’s license. As with the case of a DUI arrest for a non-commercial driver, drug and alcohol testing will be performed with a commercial driver either by the police officer or by the driver’s employer. Otherwise, drug or alcohol testing will be done as required by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. The FMCSA defines commercial DUI as driving a commercial vehicle with a Blood Alcohol Concentration of 0.04% or more and additionally, a commercial driver can randomly be tested for drugs or alcohol before, during or after driving a commercial vehicle. The FMCSA also requires that the commercial driver be randomly tested for drugs like marijuana, cocaine, amphetamines, opiates and phencyclidine.
The DUI penalties for a commercial driver are mostly the same as those for non-commercial drivers but they follow the rules of the FMCSA for convicting commercial drivers with DUI. For the first DUI offense, the commercial driver’s license will be disqualified for one year and for a second offense, the commercial driver’s license can be disqualified for life. A driver’s license suspension or revocation for a commercial driver can jeopardize your life and career. For some States, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration requires all employers to submit to the State a record of the driver’s driving record including all disqualifications, convictions and other violations of any local or State driving laws. Also the FMSCA allows the commercial driver whose driver’s license has been disqualified for life to re-attain their license after ten years if they have entered a proper rehabilitation program approved by the State and has successfully completed it. Remember that if your commercial driver’s license has been suspended, then you can get a temporary driving permit but this will not be applicable for driving commercial vehicles. Also, if you were arrested for DUI if you were driving a non-commercial vehicle, then you can get your CDL back after a few months. But if your DUI arrest happened while you were driving the commercial vehicle, then you’ll have to wait for a year before you get your license back and this usually applies to the first DUI conviction only. Also remember that the Blood Alcohol Level or Concentration for commercial drivers in the country is 0.04% as compared to the BAC of 0.08% for non-commercial drivers. You also cannot avoid your license getting suspended if you refuse to submit to an alcohol or drug testing; in fact, a refusal to submit to such a test will result in immediate suspension of your driver’s license for one year.