Obtaining a commercial driver’s license is no easy task. After hours of training and education, you received the right to drive a big rig, a bus or some other commercial vehicle. More than likely, you tied your livelihood to your CDL. Because of this, you remain vigilant and diligent while driving for work. You make sure that you don’t get behind the wheel of your commercial vehicle after drinking.
Even so, you may have stopped and had a drink or two. You probably felt that you waited an appropriate amount of time and got back into your commercial vehicle not thinking that you may be intoxicated. Unfortunately, a police officer pulled you over and suspected you of driving under the influence while on the job. After a breath test and perhaps field sobriety tests, you end up under arrest on suspicion of drunk driving.
Meeting a higher standard
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration holds you to a higher standard when it comes to drinking and driving since you have a CDL. This means that your blood alcohol concentration cannot be more than .04 while driving instead of the standard .08 for Pennsylvania’s “civilian” drivers. In addition, the FMCSA prohibits you from driving sooner than four hours after drinking.
The penalties for refusing a breath test also increase since you have a CDL. Refusing the breath test is tantamount to admitting guilt to the DUI.
These regulations protect you and the public from preventable accidents due to drunk driving. Every drunk driver poses a significant threat to the lives of everyone on the road, but due to the size and weight of your vehicle, accidents involving trucks or other large commercial vehicles often result in more serious and even fatal injuries.
What could happen next?
In addition to the non-commercial penalties you face, a commercial DUI may come with a longer suspension of your driver’s license. Your employer cannot allow you to drive during the suspension. FMCSA regulations require you to report a DUI conviction to your employer within 30 days. This rule applies regardless of whether the drunk driving conviction resulted from driving a commercial vehicle or your personal vehicle.
You could also experience difficulty in finding another job driving a commercial vehicle with a DUI on your record. Therefore, it behooves you to challenge the charges against you. A thorough investigation of the traffic stop, breath test and the field sobriety tests could reveal weaknesses in the prosecution’s case. You may also challenge the suspension of your license. You would need to take these actions as quickly as possible since deadlines may apply.