Drivers in the state of California must have a CDL or commercial drivers license if they wish to operate a commercial vehicle. Only residents of the state of California may apply for a CDL license (although this can be established by registering to vote in California, paying resident tuition at a public institution of higher education, filing for a California homeowner’s property tax exemption, obtaining a license (such as a fishing license), or any other privilege or benefit not ordinarily extended to nonresidents.
The California Department of Motor Vehicles outlines what is considered a commercial motor vehicle (ex. a vehicle which has a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of 26,001 pounds or more, tows any vehicle with a GVWR of 10,001 pounds or more, tows more than one vehicle or a trailer bus, has three or more axles (excludes three axle vehicles weighing 6,000 pounds or less gross, any vehicle 10 passengers including the driver, for hire or profit, or is used by any nonprofit organization or group) etc). For more information about what constitutes a commercial motor vehicle contact the California Department of Motor Vehicles.
Arrested for DUI – What happens to my California CDL license?
While it is illegal for all drivers over the age of 21 in California to operate a motorized vehicle with a blood alcohol content level of 0.08% or higher. Commercial drivers can be charged with DUI if their blood alcohol content is 0.04% or higher if they are operating their commercial vehicle. If the driver is operating a noncommercial vehicle with a BAC of 0.08% or higher, they can be disqualified from operating BOTH the commercial and noncommercial vehicle.
So, let’s talk about the penalties you are facing if you are arrested and convicted of drunk driving:
- Commercial drivers who are convicted of drunk driving the first time with a BAC of 0.08% or higher or who refuse to submit to the chemical test will have their commercial license suspended for one year. If the driver was carrying hazardous materials they will face a three year license suspension. If the driver is operating their commercial vehicle when they are arrested for drunk driving they can face a one year license suspension if their BAC was 0.04% or higher.
What happens if you refuse a chemical test the second time or if you are convicted of a second DUI? You will lose your CDL license for life.
After a California DUI arrest
If you are arrested for drunk driving, whether or not you are driving your commercial vehicle or not, the police officer will generally confiscate your license and give you a temporary driving permit. Does this allow you to operate your commercial vehicle? No, it will only allow you to operate your noncommercial motor vehicle, even if you were not operating your commercial vehicle at the time of your DUI arrest.
Many drivers want to know if they can get a temporary CDL license. No, although you might be able to get a hardship license or temporary license to operate your noncommercial vehicle you will not get a temporary permit for a CDL.
As mentioned above, you may be able to get your CDL back after a first DUI arrest, but if this is your second DUI in California you will face a lifetime revocation of your CDL license.
- Drunk Driving – I was driving a motorcycle instead of a car (duiattorneyhome.com)
- California – Refused a chemical test after drunk driving arrest (duiattorneyhome.com)
- Drunk driving – Administrative License Suspension after a DUI (duiattorneyhome.com)
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