June 11, 2019
When It Looks Like a Drunk Driving Ticket Will Impact Your CDL
It takes hard work to become a commercial driver in Pennsylvania. A drunk driving ticket represents a serious matter for all motor vehicle operators. However, the consequences become graver for CDL license holders.
Whether you’re a truck driver or a bus operator, you rely on your CDL to make money. Without it, you’ll need to change your career and search for another way to support yourself and your family. Meanwhile, it only takes one DUI conviction to result in the loss of your commercial driving privileges.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Association (FMSCA) acts as the lead federal agency when it comes to regulating the operation of a commercial vehicle. No doubt you already know their focus concentrates on safety. This includes setting standards to prevent impaired drivers from getting behind the wheel.
Blood alcohol concentration (BAC) levels act as key factors in measuring alcohol impairment. Non-commercial drivers in Pennsylvania face drunk driving charges if their BAC exceeds .08%. Meanwhile, the FMCSA considers CDL license holders driving under the influence at half that level – at .04%.
There are important distinctions when it comes to commercial drivers and DUI charges. If you are operating a non-commercial vehicle, you are held to the same standard as other motor vehicle operators. In that case, you won’t be considered legally drunk unless your BAC is above .08%. The .04% applies to times you are behind the wheel of a truck or bus that requires you to hold a CDL license.
You may have some curiosity concerning how many drinks it takes to reach a certain BAC level. A number of items factor into the equation, including the time of consumption, number of drinks, body weight, and sex. With that consideration, it’s estimated that two beers alone will put a 180-pound man at a BAC level of .04%.
CDL License and Drunk Driving: Penalties
You should be aware that Pennsylvania law views drunk driving convictions the same when it comes to your CDL license. What does that mean exactly? Even if you are found guilty of driving while under the influence in a non-commercial vehicle, you face harsh penalties.
More than likely, you already know that you need to report any traffic convictions to your employer within 30 days. Obviously, you’ll be fearful of immediate termination.
So, what happens from a legal standpoint? The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation offers a helpful fact sheet summarizing the penalties for various traffic offenses.
Meanwhile, a DUI doesn’t just mean your impairment relates to alcohol. Driving under the influence of controlled substances comes with the same penalties.
With a conviction for a first offense, you lose the privilege to operate a commercial motor vehicle for one year. Additionally, the disqualification extends to three years if you carry Hazmat materials.
In case you didn’t know, you face the same penalties if you refused to submit to chemical testing, often referred to as a breathalyzer refusal.
Obviously, a person who drives for a living loses money without a license. However, your expenses increase with fines ranging up to as high as $5,000. Worse yet, you could wind up in jail, depending on the level of your impairment.