To operate trucks or passenger vehicles, you must have a valid commercial driver's license (CDL). A DWI in a personal vehicle or a DWI while driving professionally can result in suspension or revocation of a commercial license. Alabama laws are strict when it comes to alcohol use by operators of commercial motor vehicles. If you are accused of impaired driving and you rely on your CDL to make a living, you need to speak with a commercial DWI attorney immediately for DWI defense.
How Does a DWI Affect a Commercial Driver's License?
A DWI can result in a commercial driver being disqualified. Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations Section 383.51 addresses the disqualification of a commercial license after the consumption of alcohol.
For a first conviction or a refusal to undergo a test of blood alcohol concentration while operating either a commercial motor vehicle or any other vehicle, a driver will face a one-year license suspension. For a first conviction while transporting hazardous material, the suspension of a CDL is longer: three years. For a second conviction of DWI or a second refusal to undergo a BAC test, FMCSA requires a lifetime suspension of a commercial driver's license. This means that just two convictions can put a permanent end to a career as a professional driver.
A CDL holder faces suspension of his commercial license not only for driving while impaired in his truck or passenger vehicle, but also for intoxicated driving in a private car. The conviction for DWI can be based on consumption of alcohol, use of a controlled substance, or being behind the wheel while affected by any combination of alcohol and drugs.
Alabama law also imposes a suspension of both a commercial driver's license and a standard driver's license for a motorist who is convicted of driving while under the influence of drugs and alcohol. State law is very strict when it comes to impairment of professional drivers. If a truck operator or an operator of a passenger vehicle has a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of just .04 while operating a commercial vehicle, this can be considered illegally impaired driving. This .04 limit is half the legal limit for drivers of passenger cars.
The .04 percent limit applies only to motorists in specific types of commercial motor vehicles, including vehicles that can transport 16 or more passengers (including the vehicle's driver); trucks that have a gross combination weight rating of 26,000 pounds or greater or that have a tow unit with a gross vehicle weight rating exceeding 10,000 pounds, or vehicles being used for the transport of hazardous materials.
Because of the serious consequences, including the potential for permanent revocation of a CDL, drivers need to take a DWI seriously if they have a professional license and are arrested. A CDL driver could sometimes plead down to a lesser charge like reckless driving, which has a shorter mandatory CDL suspension period. Getting charges dropped or fighting conviction could also help a CDL-holder to keep a license. An effective DWI defense could help a driver to secure a not guilty verdict and/or keep a conviction off their permanent driving record.