Commercial driver DUI: what you need to know

Many people don’t realize that there are actually different standards for drunk driving for those with a commercial driver’s license and those with a standard license. While a standard driver commits the offense of DUI when his or her blood alcohol concentration is .08% or above, a commercial driver commits an offense of DUI if his or her blood alcohol concentration is .04% or higher.

The consequences of a DUI are more serious for commercial drivers because, simply put, the stakes are much higher when the vehicle is bigger. This goes for any commercial driver, including those driving:

  • Box trucks
  • Buses (school buses, public transportation, church/non-profit groups, charter companies, etc.)
  • Other delivery vehicles
  • Big rigs/semi trucks
  • Registered fleet vehicles that require a CDL

FMCSA standards

The standards and penalties for commercial DUI are established not by individual state legislatures, but instead by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). Most states, Tennessee included, have adopted these standards in the form of the Uniform Classified and Commercial Driver License Act. The provisions dealing with driving under the influence are codified in Tennessee Code Annotated Section 55-50-405.Penalties

A standard driver can anticipate a license suspension of up to a year with a first-offense DUI. Commercial drivers also lose their licenses for a year if convicted of DUI. However, if the driver is transporting hazardous materials at the time of the arrest, a conviction comes with a mandatory three-year license suspension.

The penalties for a second DUI conviction are even more serious for commercial drivers. A CDL holder convicted of a second DUI will lose his or her license for a minimum of 10 years up to life. Such a lengthy suspension effectively means that a commercial driver would have to find a new line of work: his or her livelihood is on the line.

With such serious potential consequences, it is vitally important that commercial drivers vigorously fight DUI charges. If you’re facing allegations of drunk driving as a CDL holder, reach out to an experienced criminal defense attorney in your area.

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