Commercial Driver’s Licenses and DUI Charges
When someone with a commercial driver’s license (CDL) is pulled over and accused of driving under the influence, he or she could face extra penalties as a result. These consequences could be even more severe for people driving a commercial vehicle at the time. As a result, CDL drivers could lose their jobs and their ability to work.
DUI Convictions for Commercial Drivers
If you are arrested for DUI while driving your personal vehicle, the criminal penalties are the same for someone with a commercial driver’s license or a regular license. However, CDL drivers may face significant additional consequences even for a first offense. If convicted, you may have your commercial driver’s license suspended for a full year.
Many CDL drivers operate commercial vehicles for a living, and a single DUI conviction could force them out of a job. This is true even if it derives from an incident that occurred on their personal time. In some cases, a driver could be forced out of the industry altogether. This is one reason why it is particularly important to work with a New Jersey DUI lawyer to develop a solid defense strategy if you find yourself in this situation.
DUI Charges for Driving a Personal Vehicle
If you are driving a personal passenger vehicle when pulled over, the BAC level that applies is 0.08 percent, the same level that applies to regular drivers. However, in New Jersey, a license suspension of three months to one year accompanies a first-time DWI conviction for anyone. If you are a CDL driver, your CDL will also be revoked for one year in case of a conviction. These penalties apply not only in direct DWI convictions but also in cases where the conviction resulted from refusing a breath test.
A second New Jersey DWI conviction will lead to the lifetime revocation of your CDL license. The fact that you were not driving a commercial vehicle or working on the job at the time is irrelevant to this penalty.
After 10 years, you can apply for restoration of your CDL. The chief administrator of the program has the discretion to restore the license at that time. However, in most cases, CDL drivers have moved on to another career by that point.
Additional penalties can accompany a New Jersey DUI conviction, including hundreds of dollars in fines, time spent at a state intoxicated-driver resource center and potential jail time or community service. An ignition interlock device may be mandated, and you will typically pay substantially higher premiums for car insurance for some time to come. However, for CDL drivers in particular, the loss of driving privileges can be the most significant aspect since it affects their ability to work and earn an income.
DUI Charges for Commercial Drivers on the Job
When driving commercially, you are held to a higher standard in terms of DUI. For example, people driving commercially can be charged with DUI with a BAC of 0.04 percent, half of the requirement for people driving on their own personal time.
While your CDL might still be suspended for one year in this case, it could be suspended for up to three years, depending on the circumstances. If you were hauling hazardous materials at the time, even a first-offense DUI conviction comes with a mandatory three-year suspension of CDL privileges. As previously stated, a second offense comes with a lifetime ban, subject to discretionary review after 10 years.
Working With a New Jersey DWI Lawyer
If you have a CDL and you’ve been arrested for drunk driving in New Jersey, it is important to obtain legal advice and representation. A lawyer can review the circumstances of your arrest and challenge police assertions. Remember, DUI charges, like other criminal charges, must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.
The livelihood of a commercial driver is at risk from a DUI conviction. By working with an experienced New Jersey DUI lawyer, you can fight to prevent a conviction and protect your ability to work. Call the office of Denis Driscoll in Parsippany today at (973) 585-6982 to set up an appointment for a consultation.