What Happens If I Get a DUI on a Commercial License?

Both federal and Georgia law establish a strict criteria for commercial driver’s license disqualifications, which could withdraw a commercial driver’s driving privileges. Commercial disqualifications are generally related to specific traffic offenses:

  • DUI with a CDL License
  • Major Traffic Offenses
  • Serious Traffic Offenses
  • Railroad Grade Crossing Violations
  • Out-of-Service Order Violations

In today’s blog, we will focus specifically on incidents of DUI with a commercial license.

Driving Under the Influence with a CDL

Driving under the influence while operating commercial motor vehicle (CMV) is a serious matter that can result in a lifetime ban of an individual’s commercial driver’s license (CDL). Recall that “under the influence” refers to the influence of any alcohol, drug, or controlled substance, and any amount of marijuana or illegal drugs in the blood or urine constitutes an unlawful amount for operating a vehicle. The two ways a driver may be charged with DUI is if they are “less safe” to drive due to the influence of alcohol or drugs regardless of the amount, or if they have a per se DUI with an illegal blood alcohol concentration (BAC) or more, regardless of actual impairment.

Note that while a standard DUI per se occurs with a BAC of 0.08, commercial drivers can be convicted of DUI per se with a 0.04 BAC if they were operating a commercial vehicle at the time. In addition, if the driver refuses to take a state-administered chemical test as required by Georgia’s implied consent laws, they will likely face a commercial disqualification.

A first DUI while holding a CDL could result in a 1-year suspension of their commercial license, and a second DUI can result in a lifetime CDL disqualification. Be aware that these penalties apply regardless of whether an individual was charged while driving a commercial or personal, non-commercial vehicle.

Penalties and Implied Consent

The penalties for a first DUI offense are:

  • 10 days to 12 months in jail;
  • $300-$1,000 in fines; and/or
  • at least 20 hours of community service (40 hours if BAC was .08 or more).

A second offense will warrant:

  • 90 days to 12 months in jail;
  • $600-$1,000 in fines; and/or
  • at least 30 days of community service.

A third DUI offense could include:

  • 120 days to 12 months of jail time;
  • $1,000-$5,000 in fines;
  • at least 30 days of community service.

All convicted drivers must also complete an alcohol and drug clinical evaluation and follow any recommended treatment program determined by the court. Second-time DUI offenders must also complete a DUI alcohol or drug use risk reduction program.

Certain factors involved in a DUI incident may call for enhanced penalties, such as if minor passengers were in the vehicle. In many cases, an impaired driver who was transporting a minor passenger can be charged with a separate offense of child endangerment. A child endangerment conviction could add an additional 12 months in jail and $1,000 in fines on top of the normal DUI penalties.

Motorists convicted of a second DUI within 5 years must forfeit their driver’s license plates and will not get them back until their driver’s license is reinstated. Upon a third or subsequent DUI conviction, the judge will likely order that the vehicle driven during the offense be forfeited and sold.

Note that all individuals who drive in Georgia are also implied to have given their consent to an alcohol or a drug test of their breath, blood, or urine upon a law enforcement officer’s reasonable stop. A driver who is arrested for a DUI but refuses to submit to such a request for a chemical test will be subject to further license suspension:

  • First offense in 5 years – 1-year suspension, can be reinstated after 30 days and completion of a DUI education program.
  • Second offense in 5 years – 3-year suspension, can be reinstated after 18 months and completion of a DUI education program.
  • Third offense in 5 years – 5-year suspension, can get a probationary license after 2 years and completion of a DUI education program.

Charged with DUI on a CDL?

If you have been charged with driving under the influence while operating a commercial motor vehicle, you could face a lifetime ban on commercial driving. The consequences can severely limit your future driving privileges and commit you to years of jail time. Let an experienced attorney at Daniels & Taylor, P.C. take a look at your commercial DUI case to determine your best next steps.

Speak to an attorney at Daniels & Taylor, P.C. about your case today.

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