Commercial DUI and its Negative Consequences

Drinking and driving is a serious offense in any situation. However, it is even more so when the defendant is a commercial truck driver. A conviction can mean a loss of freedom and a livelihood.

If a large commercial vehicle like a semi-truck, bus or delivery vehicle is involved in a traffic accident, such an accident may result in substantial property damage, fatality or serious injuries. Based on this probability, DUI laws are harsher on commercial drivers than on others.

DUI Laws

While most drivers are subject to a blood alcohol content level of 0.08 percent as the legal limit to show driver impairment, this is usually lower for commercial drivers. Most states impose a 0.04 percent BAC level when finding a commercial driver drunk. For most first-time offenses, the crime is considered a misdemeanor DUI. However, when aggravating factors
are present, the crime may be considered a felony. The same can occur if the offense is not the first offense.

If the commercial driver is driving a personal vehicle at the time and is over the general BAC legal limit, he or she can still face the same penalties that commercial drivers are subject to.

Penalties for Commercial DUI

A commercial driver is subject to the same penalties as other drivers. These penalties often include:

DUI and Jail Time

A person convicted of DUI for the first time may be subject to a maximum jail penalty of six months or one year depending on state law. If he or she has a history of DUI convictions, this time can be longer. Additionally, he or she may be subject to additional time if there are aggravating factors, including having a very high BAC or being involved in an accident that causes injury or death.


A driver may also be ordered to pay monetary fines. This may be in addition to other monetary expenses, including having to pay various fees, restitution and license reinstatement fees.

Points to Driving Record

The driver may also face having points added to his or her driving record, which can ultimately result in a suspended driver’s license and higher insurance costs.

DUI Probation

A person convicted of DUI may be ordered to probation. He or she may have to meet regularly with a probation officer and may be limited to stay within a specific area, which can be difficult or impossible for a commercial driver to do.

Suspension of License

A common penalty for a DUI conviction is the loss of driving privileges, which is commonly for six months for a first offense. If a commercial driver refuses to take a chemical test, he or she may have the CDL suspended for one year in many jurisdictions. He or she my permanently lose CDL privileges for a second or subsequent refusal, depending on state law.

Restriction on Driving

In addition to the other penalties, a person may face for a DUI conviction, state law may also impose a mandatory prohibition on the commercial driver driving a commercial vehicle for a specific period of time. In Arizona, this prohibition is for one year. However, this restriction varies by state. Additionally, multiple DUI convictions can result in a lifetime ban on driving a commercial vehicle, causing the driver to lose his or her profession and having to go into another line of work.

Commercial DUI and the Employment Consequences

A driver convicted of DUI may be terminated by his or her employer or contracting firm. Additionally, he or she may not be able to work as a commercial driver until his or her license is reinstated. Even then, trucking companies may refuse to hire him or her due to the conviction.

Legal Assistance

Individuals who are facing DUI charges may wish to contact a DUI defense lawyer who has experience defending commercial drivers. A conviction can have a direct impact on the driver’s livelihood of future career prospects. A skilled DUI lawyer can assert defenses to try to keep the CDL intact. The potential defenses that may apply depend on the particular circumstances of the case. A DUI lawyer can review the details of the case and put together an aggressive legal defense that is based on the strengths of the case.

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Disclaimer: While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication, it is not intended to provide legal advice as individual situations will differ and should be discussed with an expert and/or lawyer.

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