Facing charges of driving under the influence can be costly and time consuming, but for a commercial driver, it can result in the loss of one's livelihood. Even getting stopped for DUI while off the clock and driving one's own personal vehicle can contribute to the loss of a commercial driver license (CDL).
Driving under the influence refers to operating a vehicle while affected by alcohol, drugs or both. This applies to both legal and illegal drugs, including prescription medication and over-the-counter drugs.
Adults age 21 and older can be charged with DUI if a breath or blood test show the amount of alcohol in the driver's blood to be .08 or higher, but for commercial drivers, the threshold is lower. They can be charged with DUI if their blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) is as low as .04. Furthermore, a driver can be found to be under the influence or affected by alcohol, drugs or a combination regardless of the concentration of alcohol in their breath or blood.
If a commercial driver is convicted of DUI while driving a private vehicle and loses his or her license, they automatically lose their commercial license. And under no circumstances, can a driver operating a commercial vehicle have any alcohol or THC in their system, according to Washington State statutes. THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, is a compound found in cannabis preparations.
A commercial driver license can be suspended, revoked or disqualified for the following reasons:
- Conviction in court for driving a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
- Entering into a deferred prosecution program (considered a DUI conviction for holders of commercial driver licenses).
- Driving a commercial motor vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.04 or more.
- Refusing to submit to a breath or blood test while driving any motor vehicle.
- Leaving the scene of an accident involving a motor vehicle.
- Using any motor vehicle in the commission of a felony.
- Driving a commercial motor vehicle with a suspended, revoked, canceled or disqualified CDL.
- Causing a fatality through the negligent operation of a commercial motor vehicle (including but not limited to vehicular homicide or assault).
- Committing two or more of the violations listed above, in separate incidents.
- Testing positive on the Department of Transportation test for drugs or alcohol.
- Driving a commercial vehicle while under an out-of-service order.
- Committing railroad-crossing violations while operating a commercial motor vehicle.
- Being reported as an imminent hazard by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.
- Committing two or more serious traffic offenses within three years, in separate incidents.
- Using any motor vehicle in the commission of a felony involving the manufacture, distribution or dispensing of a controlled substance, or possession with intent to manufacture, distribute or dispense a controlled substance.
A first incident of driving a commercial vehicle under the influence can result in a one year disqualification of a commercial driver license. The disqualification time increases to three years if the incident occurred while transporting hazardous materials. A second incident earns a driver a lifetime disqualification from driving commercial vehicles.
A commercial driver who faces the disqualification of his or her license, has the right to the best defense to protect their livelihood. If you have been arrested, call the Seattle law office of Steve Karimi at (206) 621-8777 or contact him online.