California Commercial DUIs

Drivers of commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) will travel California highways in trucks up to 75 feet long that weigh as much as 80,000 pounds. This is in sharp contrast with drivers of passenger vehicles, which, on average, run only 15 feet in length and weigh in at around 5,000 pounds.

This difference in vehicle size and weight puts the drivers and passengers of much-smaller passenger vehicles at a severe disadvantage in the event of an accident. This consideration has led to the requirement that CMV driver's pass stringent tests in order to obtain a commercial driver's license (CDL) and be able to legally operate a large, commercial vehicle on the road.

The disparity between commercial and ordinary automobiles has also led to higher standards and more severe punishments for CMV drivers, including in the area of a DUI citation. For example, you can be arrested on charges of DUI while driving a CMV with only a .04% blood-alcohol content (BAC). This is half the level (.08%) that applies to ordinary vehicles.

When faced with a commercial DUI allegation, it is imperative to secure the services of a top-tier DUI defense attorney with deep experience in commercial cases. It is even more crucial than with regular DUIs since the sentence could potentially include any of the following:

  • A one-year suspension of your CDL
  • A simultaneous suspension of your regular driver's license
  • The mandatory installation of an ignition interlock device on your vehicle
  • Attendance at a victims' impact panel or at alcohol education classes
  • Probation and community service

According to section 383.51 of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), which imposes regulations on employers who hire CMV drivers, the following requirements apply after a commercial DUI has occurred:

  • Employers in the trucking industry must never knowingly permit, require, or authorize a disqualified driver to operate a CMV.
  • Driving under the influence of either alcohol or drugs is a disqualifying offense.
  • Whether or not the DUI arrest occurred while the employee was driving for work-related purposes, the DUI is still a disqualifying offense.

It is important to remember that detection of a .08% BAC while driving any vehicle or .04% BAC while operating a CMV results in a DUI. Furthermore, the presence of a .08% BAC while driving a CMV can lead to the total revocation of one's CDL along with the suspension of his/her regular driver's license. In other cases, however, the CDL is sometimes downgraded to a Class C, non-commercial license for a first-time DUI offense.

With ordinary DUIs in the state of California, it is often possible to obtain a restricted driver's license to use while your ordinary license is in suspension. In some situations, it may be possible for truck drivers arrested on DUI charges to obtain such a restricted license, which allows only for usage deemed reasonably "necessary." However, this does not mean that CMV driving privileges will be allowed during this interim period. Employers will still be required by law to suspend or revoke the driving privileges of employees with a DUI. The DUI, that is, will still count as a disqualification in accordance with FMCSA regulations.

We understand the high stakes of a commercial DUI. It is not merely pleasure cruising and getting around town but one's livelihood that is in jeopardy. Once convicted of a DUI, truck industry employers will have no choice but to give your job to another. Thus, the need for an experienced Los Angeles DUI attorney who knows how to fight for and obtain the best possible outcome for your case is crucial. We can provide you with the services of a top attorney who knows the ins and outs of commercial DUI law and is familiar with the inner workings of the justice system. Contact us today at 424-888-4384 for a free consultation and immediate attention to your case.