Individuals who hold a commercial driver license (CDL) may have their CDL disqualified for a variety of reasons. Recently on our DUI forum we had a user ask, “If I get my drunk driving charge reduced down to reckless or careless driving can I keep my commercial drivers license?”
What happens if I am charged with DUI with a Commercial Drivers License?
This driver has a right to be concerned. If they are charged and convicted of DUI or if they are driving under the influence and their chemical test reveals their BAC is above the legal limit for a commercial driver (even if they are not eventually convicted of DUI) they will lose their commercial drivers license.
A drunk driving conviction can result in a lengthy license suspension, which can vary based on a variety of factors such as state laws and whether or not this is the driver’s first DUI charge. An administrative license suspension is for one year and up to three years if they are transporting a transporting a hazardous material. A second administrative license suspension is for life.
After the DUI commercial drivers license administrative license suspension the driver will have to pass the CDL knowledge and skills tests and pay a $20 re-qualification fee. There may also be some reinstatement fees.
What if my DUI is reduced to a reckless driving charge?
Drivers who have their drunk driving charge reduced to a reckless driving charge may avoid a lengthy DUI license suspension, but they may not completely avoid a suspension. For instance, in some states, two serious traffic offenses (i.e. excessive speeding, reckless driving, improper or erratic lane changes, following too closely, etc.) within three years may result in a 60 day.
But does that mean you will avoid a year long license suspension? No, what many drivers don’t realize is they can have their license suspended even if they aren’t convicted of DUI. For instance, If you as the commercial drivers license holder were operating your truck and you were stopped for a DUI if you refused the test or you took the test and your BAC was 0.04% or higher than your license is suspended by the Department of Motor Vehicles through an Administrative license suspension. This means it will not matter if you are eventually charged and convicted for DUI or reckless driving, you will still have to serve out the suspension.
Now, if you do have your license suspended through an administrative suspension you have the right to challenge the suspension by requesting a hearing. This must be done, however, within a specified time period. If you wait too long to request the hearing you will lose your right to challenge the suspension.
Occupational License and a loss of a Commercial Drivers License
Some states may offer an occupational license while their CDL is disqualified, but you will not be able to operate a commercial vehicle. The occupational license is strictly for noncommercial motor vehicle purposes only. To learn more about the options you have in your state you can visit the Motor Vehicle Department in your state.
Hiring a DUI Lawyer
Because a DUI arrest and conviction can result in the loss of your CDL license it is important to talk to a DUI lawyer immediately.
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