The stakes are higher when a commercial driver gets into a crash. They could be hauling thousands of pounds of goods, which could slam into other vehicles or be scattered over the roadway. They could be carrying a bus full of kids. They could be transporting hazardous materials. The truck itself is so much larger than other vehicles that it can cause catastrophic damage.
For that reason, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration holds Class A and Class B drivers to a high safety standard. You cannot drive any vehicle with a blood alcohol content of 0.04% or higher — half the level for non-commercial drivers in most states. Moreover, you aren’t allowed to drive at all within four hours of consuming alcohol.
If you are in an accident, you will generally be required to submit to a blood-alcohol or drug test. You may also face alcohol and drug testing at random, whenever there is reasonable suspicion that you are drunk or using, or when returning to work after a violation of your employer’s drug and alcohol policy.
What happens if you’re convicted of DUI as a commercial driver?
In a commercial DUI case, you face all the same criminal penalties as an ordinary driver. In Tennessee, that means (for a first offense):
- Between 48 hours and 11 months, 29 days in jail (a minimum of 7 consecutive days if your blood alcohol content was 0.20% or greater)
- A fine of between $350 and $1,500
- Revocation of your driver’s license for at least a year
- Court-ordered drug and alcohol treatment program
- Possibly, an ignition interlock device installed on your car at your expense
- Towing, bail, court costs, restitution, reinstatement fees and other expenses
- Expensive high risk insurance required once you get your license back
One of the main consequences is the loss of your driver’s license — and that can be longer than it would be for an ordinary driver. The loss of your license equals the loss of your job — and it may be hard to get another driving job once your license is reinstated.
Think your boss won’t find out?
Even if you were driving your own vehicle at the time of the offense, you are required by law to notify your employer after being convicted of any traffic offense, including DUI.
You can’t afford not to fight
If you’re a commercial driver, a single DUI conviction could take you off the road forever. If you have been arrested for DUI, however, there may be opportunities to reduce the charges, limit the penalties, or fight the case in court. Talk to an experienced DUI defense attorney right away.