Burke Levy, P.C.

Truck drivers must meet a higher standard in DUI cases

Whether you wanted to see the country or make short trips within Massachusetts in order to be home every night, your love of driving may have drawn you to numerous professions that allow you to indulge that passion. You obtained a commercial driver's license, and now, being behind the wheel most of your workday is a way of life for you.

When you obtained your CDL, you became subject to the rules and regulations of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. As such, you must meet a higher standard in many areas of driving about which "regular" drivers don't have to worry. One of those areas involves drunk driving.

 What standards must you meet?

Due to the sheer size and weight of 18-wheelers, accidents involving these massive vehicles can result in very serious injuries. This makes it crucial that truck drivers remain alert, pay attention and remain in control of their vehicles at all times. This is just one reason why the FMCSA takes driving under the influence seriously for those holding a CDL.

Most people know that the legal blood-alcohol concentration limit is currently .08, but not for those who hold a CDL. The FMCSA set the legal BAC for drivers with a CDL at .04. If you are have a CDL, refusing to submit to a breath test when requested by a law enforcement officer equates to a guilty plea under FMCSA rules. If convicted of DUI/OUI, you also face harsher penalties such as a longer suspension of your CDL.

How the standards impact you

If you receive a moving violation or find yourself under arrest for DUI or some other serious traffic offense, you must inform your employer within 30 days. This rule even applies to your personal vehicle. If you face charges for DUI while not at work and in your personal car, you must still inform your employer within this time limit.

Any revocation or suspension of your license directly affects your livelihood. Your employer cannot use you as a driver during that time, which would have a serious impact on your ability to make a living. You may even lose your job and could have a difficult time finding other employment even when you can drive again.

Explore your legal options

Having a CDL doesn't mean that you forfeit your legal rights when it comes to DUI charges. You retain the right to challenge the charges, and you may want to carefully consider your next steps. Depending on the circumstances, you could avoid a conviction and the related penalties. Before doing anything else in connection with the charges, talk to an experienced DUI defense attorney about your rights and options.

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