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San Antonio, Texas DWI Lawyers

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How a Texas DWI/DUI Could Affect Your Commercial Driver’s License

If the driver of a sedan is pulled over and charged with DWI, it can cause some challenges. The inconvenience of a suspended license, the possibility of jail time, as well as the financial hit caused by hefty fines, the court fees and the increased insurance premiums are all significant consequences that no one wants to face. If the driver of a semi truck or other commercial driver’s license holder is convicted of DUI, though, the penalties are even steeper.

Commercial License DWI/DUI

The larger the vehicle, the more possibility for damage in the event of an accident. Semi trucks and 18-wheelers are some of the biggest vehicles on the road, and people driving them must have special instruction. Commercial driver’s licenses (CDLs) are only available to those drivers who have received training and are skilled enough to deal with the unique challenges that come along with operating a larger, more complicated vehicle.

In nearly every American jurisdiction, a passenger vehicle driver is legally intoxicated with a blood alcohol level of .08. That number is much smaller for a CDL operator; instead of a blood alcohol concentration of .08, commercial drivers are considered to be legally intoxicated with an alcohol level of .04, half that of a standard license holder.

Commercial drivers are also treated differently when it comes to detecting alcohol. Passenger vehicle drivers can only be tested if a law enforcement officer has probable cause to think that they are under the influence (i.e. swerving, driving erratically, smelling of alcohol, etc.), but CDL drivers are held to standards set forth by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and the United States Department of Transportation (USDOT).

The stricter FMCSA and USDOT regulations allow for driver breath or blood alcohol testing:

  • At random
  • When a driver is suspected of being under the influence
  • When a driver who has previously had his or her CDL suspended is returning to full-time duty
  • After a crash where alcohol is suspected to have been involved

The penalties for commercial driver DWI/DUI are also more severe, since they hit right at the heart of a driver’s livelihood. When a commercial driver is convicted of DWI, he or she loses his license for a minimum of one year. There is the possibility of an appeal to the license revocation, but appeals are rarely successful. This means that a CDL holder will not be able to drive at all for a year, or for three years if he happened to be transporting hazardous materials at the time of the DWI arrest. Another important note is that the increased scrutiny given to CDL drivers applies even if he or she is operating a passenger vehicle at the time of the arrest.

Since a CDL driver facing a Texas DWI/DUI faces such severe consequences, the charges must be fought aggressively. If you or a loved one is facing a commercial license holder charged with DWI, seek the advice of a skilled criminal defense attorney in your area who can protect your rights and fight the system on your behalf.

Posted on August 12, 2013 in Articles

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