Commercial Driver DUI: Severe Penalties for Drunk Driving
By: Mike Stetzer
Most states have adopted Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) rules for disqualification of a commercial driver's license (CDL). The FMCSA rules for driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol apply to drivers with a Commercial Driver's License (CDL) while driving a commercial motor vehicle (CMV).
Drug and alcohol testing is performed, depending on the circumstance, by the police officers or a commercial driver's employer. Random testing is required by the FMCSA to be carried out by drivers' employers. The state or local police may test a driver on suspicion of driving under the influence or following an accident.
The FMSCA rules for commercial drivers define commercial DUI as driving a commercial motor vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .04 or greater. A commercial driver may be randomly tested for drug or alcohol use before, during, or after driving a commercial vehicle.
A commercial driver's license may also be suspended upon conviction for violating a state's DUI laws while driving a non-commercial vehicle.
The FMSCA applies state laws for controlled substances in a driver's blood or urine. Some states have zero tolerance policies for these drugs. In addition, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations require random drug tests for commercial drivers to test for marijuana, cocaine, amphetamines, opiates, and phencyclidine. The length of time during which you could test positive in a random drug test varies depending on the drug. The drug or its metabolite may remain in your system for a significant period of time after use-sometimes several weeks.
Commercial Drivers Face Longer License Suspensions
Under FMSCA rules, a conviction for DUI or refusal to submit to a test can result in a variety of penalties including a one year disqualification of your commercial driver's license for the first offense. A second offense may mean a lifetime ban. The first offense disqualification could include a three year prohibition from driving HAZMAT vehicles.
Suspension or revocation of your commercial driver's license is above and beyond DUI penalties imposed by the court and a suspension or revocation of your regular driver's license. In addition to court and motor vehicle department imposed penalties, a conviction for drug and alcohol use could jeopardize your job and your future employment prospects.
Although not yet adopted by all states, the FMSCA rules require states to maintain driving records for CDL drivers including all convictions, disqualifications and other licensing actions for violations of any state or local driving law (other than a parking violation) committed in any type of vehicle.
The FMSCA rules allow a State to reinstate any driver disqualified for life, after 10 years, if that person has voluntarily entered and successfully completed an appropriate rehabilitation program approved by the state. However, FMSCA rules forbid a driver that has already been reinstated after a lifetime disqualification to be reinstated again.
If you're a commercial driver who has been charged with DUI, contact a local DUI attorney as soon as possible for more assistance and guidance. Simply fill out the free case evaluation form on this page, or call 877-349-1311, and we'll help you get in touch with one our sponsoring DUI attorneys in your area.
The above summary of commercial driver DUI penalties is by no means all-inclusive and is not intended to serve as legal advice. Laws may have changed since our last update. For the latest information on these DUI laws, speak to a local DUI lawyer in the state.