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Commercial drivers charged with DWI can lose their livelihood

On Behalf of | Dec 7, 2023 | DUI/DWI

Anyone in Texas who is charged with driving under the influence or driving while intoxicated can face a litany of penalties that will negatively impact their freedom, their finances, their right to drive and their future. For those who drive for a living with a commercial driver’s license or have a commercial learner’s permit, the penalties can be even worse as it can prevent them from working.

Commercial driving is a prominent vocation in the Lone Star State and across the nation. When a driver is confronted with allegations that they were operating their vehicle under the influence, they need to be cognizant of how it can hinder their commercial license and perhaps even disqualify them from having one. As with any DUI or DWI charge, there are ways to lodge a defense to avoid the worst consequences.

The law is stricter with commercial drivers

For those who hold a conventional driver’s license, they will be charged with DWI if they register a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08%. For CDL drivers, it is 0.04%. Being convicted of DWI, DWI with a child passenger or intoxication assault will disqualify the CDL driver even if it is a first conviction.

Some might be under the impression that they have the right to refuse to submit to a breath or blood test when asked to do so by a law enforcement officer. This is a mistake as it too can result in a disqualification for a first offense.

The CDL driver is not immune to having their commercial privileges jeopardized if they were not driving a commercial vehicle at the time of the arrest. Simply driving a passenger vehicle and being convicted of DWI with a BAC of 0.08% or higher will warrant a CDL suspension.

The duration depends on the circumstances. It will be for three years if they were transporting hazardous material at the time or refused to take part in the test while transporting hazardous material. Two or more convictions can lead to a lifetime disqualification.

After the CDL disqualification, the driver will need to take certain steps to try and get their license reinstated. For two or more serious traffic offenses, the CDL is reinstated once the disqualification period has ended if there are no other violations. Those who receive a lifetime disqualification can apply for reinstatement after 10 years.

Commercial drivers need to protect their CDL

With any legal violation, the right type of defense can make a major difference in achieving a positive outcome. When the allegations are related to DUI or DWI, any driver will need to consider how it can damage their personal and professional lives. For CDL drivers, the ramifications are often worse.

Losing a CDL even for a limited time-period can be costly in myriad ways. Those who are disqualified permanently might not know what other jobs they can get and will need to address an uncertain future. Although the law enforcement officer and prosecution will claim to have evidence of the violation, that does not automatically mean there will be a conviction.

There are strategies that can mitigate the charges or help with an acquittal. Knowing how to proceed is integral in the immediate aftermath of the arrest and could be critical to keeping a CDL.