Featured News 2020 What Happens When a Commercial Driver Gets a DUI?

What Happens When a Commercial Driver Gets a DUI?

As you may well know, drivers can be arrested for a DUI if they have a BAC over 0.08%.

But professional drivers are held to an even stricter standard. Bus drivers, truck drivers, and other commercial driver's license holders are not allowed to drive with a BAC over 0.04%, even when they’re off the clock, dueb to a standard set by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.

Part of the reason these drivers are held to a higher standard is cargo. Commercial drivers transport buses full of elementary school children or trailers full of gasoline. Some carry millions of dollars' worth of merchandise or money or volatile chemicals. A drugged or drunk commercial driver threatens public safety and is a liability to their employer. When someone is injured by an impaired commercial driver, the victim can sue the trucking company that employed that driver.

The FMCSA rules apply to a wide-variety of employed drivers, including:

  • Anyone who operates a commercial vehicle
  • Anyone who leases a commercial vehicle
  • Private motor carriers
  • Civic organizations
  • Church drivers
  • Federal, state, and local government drivers
  • Anyone who assigns drivers to operate motor vehicles
  • For-hire motor carriers

If you are driving a church van to take your fellow congregants on an outing or a disability vehicle, you are held to the FMCSA standard. Limo, town car, and taxi drivers are held to this standard. Though the FMCSA standard is not federal law, most states have enforce this standard.

Professional drivers who violate the FMCSA standard can expect arrest and prosecution. In addition to meeting the 0.04% BAC level standard, commercial drivers are barred from operating commercial vehicles within four hours of drinking. If prosecutors prove a driver violated this rule, the driver can be charged with commercial DUI.

How Professional Drivers Are Held to a Strict Standard

Commercial drivers are held accountable with random alcohol and drug tests. The authorities have the right to test a commercial driver for drug or alcohol use after an accident if they have reasonable suspicion to believe that the driver is intoxicated. Employers are permitted to randomly screen commercial drivers for marijuana, cocaine, amphetamines, opiates, and phencyclidine use.

Can a Commercial Driver Refuse a Chemical DUI Test?

If a commercial driver is pulled over on suspicion of drunk driving and refuses to take blood or breath tests, he or she will receive a harsher punishment than a regular motorist. FMCSA rules make refusal to take a blood alcohol test the equivalent of pleading guilty to a DUI.

Also, commercial drivers who are arrested for a DUI may be required to submit to extended license revocation. This can make it impossible to stay employed due to lengthy license suspension. Even if a commercial driver is caught with a DUI on personal time, punitive measures will escalate. Commercial driver's license drivers are required to notify their employer of any personal DUIs within 30 days of the arrest, even if they were driving a personal vehicle.

If you have been arrested for DUI as a commercial driver, find a DUI defense attorney today to learn your options. With the right lawyer to help you, you will be equipped to challenge allegations and get necessary counsel for your case!

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