A DUI charge in Tennessee carries harsh penalties for any driver but is especially harmful for truck drivers who rely upon their commercial driver’s licenses (CDL) to make a living. If you drive an 18-wheeler for your job, you don’t want to be caught unaware of special DUI/DWI laws that apply to you.
Lower BAC threshold
The blood alcohol concentration threshold for most drivers is .08, but is only .04 for those operating a commercial truck. Depending upon your body type and metabolism, this lower threshold can come up faster than you might think. A study by Stanford University describes the feeling of .04 BAC as a “Feeling of relaxation. Sensation of warmth. Minor impairment of reasoning and memory.”
According to regulations set forth by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), it is unlawful for a truck driver to operate his or her vehicle within four hours of consuming alcohol. That means any amount of alcohol, even a sip of beer, even if it is undetectable by a breath test machine or blood test.
After any accident involving a commercial truck, the driver may be required to submit to a DUI test if there is reasonable suspicion that he or she was driving under the influence. Drivers may also be screened for marijuana, methamphetamine, opiates and other controlled substances as a condition for returning to duty.
Harsh license penalties
A first-time DUI will result in a one-year suspension of your CDL. A second DUI will result in a lifetime suspension. Most truck drivers cannot afford to lose even a week of work, let alone an entire year. A lifetime suspension means finding an entirely different career.
If you drive a truck and need to fight a DUI, consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney who knows how to navigate the legal system. You don’t have to accept an adverse result without a fight, even if the evidence is seemingly strong.