A drunk driving arrest is always very serious, considering the higher insurance costs, loss of a driver's license, large fines, and possible jail time. For some motorists, the stakes are even higher. If you have a commercial license and you drive for a living, a DUI can be the end of your career.
This is true even if you get a drunk driving conviction while you are in your personal vehicle. The penalties for commercial driver DUI are far more severe because the risk of injury and death is much greater in a large truck or bus, as compared to a passenger vehicle.
It is important to understand what your rights are and what defenses may apply if you are arrested for DUI and your job involves driving. This is especially true if your job requires you to maintain a commercial driver's license. You need to be strategic and aggressive in fighting the charges so you can to protect your career and your future. A commercial DUI defense lawyer can help.
Commercial Drivers Face Serious Consequences for Drunk Driving
Consequences for commercial drivers who are accused of driving impaired can be severe on both the federal and state level. The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation explains how efforts made by the state to impose stricter rules on driving drunk impacted the penalties that are applied to commercial drivers who are found to be impaired.
According to PenDOT: "Under the new DUI law minors, commercial drivers, school vehicle or bus drivers, and offenders involved in an accident that injures someone or causes property damage may be subject to the high BAC penalties even if their BAC is not in the high category."
The law had established three different tiers of penalties for impaired drivers with different BACs: general, high, and highest. Penalties are much more serious at the high level. A first offense with a high BAC could lead to up to six months of imprisonment, while a general first offense DUI doesn't have minimum imprisonment requirements and imposes a penalty of six months probation.
Pennsylvania law also imposes license suspensions, which can obviously impact the commercial driver's ability to work. In fact, even if you do not specifically have a commercial driver's license, if your job simply requires you to drive a company car and have a clean driving record, the suspension of your license and the DUI conviction can result in the loss of your job.
Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations Section 383.51 also applies to most commercial truck drivers to impose consequences for DUI; these consequences can cause a career to be put on hold or suspended. A first conviction could result in a one-year suspension of a CDL, or a three year suspension if transporting hazardous materials. Repeat convictions can cause a CDL to be revoked, which would a permanent end to the ability to drive for a living.