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Commercial drivers face stricter DUI penalties

When people in California hold a commercial driver’s license (CDL), their life and their livelihood depend on maintaining that license. However, drunk driving charges can put their license and their career at risk. What should CDL holders know about driving under the influence (DUI) in California?

The BAC limit is lower for those driving a commercial vehicle.

Most drivers in California face drunk driving charges if they drive with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 or higher, according to California Vehicle Code 23152(d). However, the rules are stricter for those behind the wheel of a large commercial vehicle. Commercial drivers—regardless of whether they are on duty at the time—will be disqualified from driving a commercial vehicle if they are found driving with a BAC of just .04.

CDL holders also face additional penalties for a DUI.

California law imposes strict penalties for all people found guilty of drunk driving, including fines, required treatment programs, jail time and license suspension. However, drivers with a  commercial driver’s license face even steeper penalties if the court finds them guilty of drunk driving.

While the license suspension for other drivers can be as little as four months, CDL holders will have their license suspended for one year after their first offense. They will also lose their ability to drive commercial vehicles permanently if they are convicted a second time.

In addition, CDL holders can face damaged career prospects after a conviction because trucking companies may be hesitant to hire drivers with a DUI conviction on their record. In fact, many companies have specific policies that require as much as seven years to have passed after a conviction before they will hire a driver.

The best way for CDL holders to protect their license and career when facing DUI charges is to contact an experienced attorney. An attorney can examine the particulars of the charge and build a case that defends both their rights and their future career on California’s roadways.

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