Regardless of what type of license you carry, California Vehicle Code 23152(a) and California Vehicle Code 23152(b) prohibit driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs and also make it illegal to drive with a blood-alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08 percent or higher. However,Vehicle Code 23152(d) prohibits commercial license drivers from operating a commercial vehicle with a BAC of 0.04 percent or higher. There are special provisions in California state and federal law that apply to drivers with commercial licenses who are convicted of DUI. Whether you are a truck driver, or otherwise need a commercial license for your employment, if you have been charged with DUI these provisions apply to you.
Commercial Driver DUI Laws
Commercial driver’s licenses vary based on the type of commercial vehicle being operated. These are commonly Class A and Class B licenses, however, a Class C license permits the transport of hazardous materials.
If you are a commercial driver charged with DUI and your case goes to trial it will be the job of the prosecutor to prove that you were in fact driving under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol, just like they would have to do against any other driver charged with a DUI offense. Typically, the prosecuting attorney will rely on the testimony of witnesses, the testimony of the arresting officer, the results of your field sobriety test (such as a breathalyzer test), as well as records from the DMV proving that the defendant holds a commercial driver’s license.
In California, the DMV administers commercial driver’s license (CDL) suspensions. There are many reasons why your CDL can be suspended. The following infractions will result in your CDL being suspended for one year for your first offense:
- Driving under the influence (DUI) of drugs/alcohol.
- Driving a commercial motor vehicle (CMV) with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) 0.04% or higher.
- Refusing to take a BAC test.
- Leaving the scene of a collision involving your CMV.
- Committing a felony with your CMV.
- Driving a commercial vehicle while your CDL is revoked/suspended.
- Negligent operation of a CMV, resulting in a fatality.
You can also receive suspensions for:
- 3 years or longer, if the offense occurs while you are operating a CMV carrying hazardous materials.
- Life, for subsequent offenses of anything mentioned above.
- Life, if you use a CMV to commit a felony involving any controlled substances.
In addition to state laws in California, commercial drivers are also subject to federal regulations that are controlled by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), which include:
- CDL disqualifications and fines for violating out-of-service orders.
- Suspensions and disqualifications ranging from 60 days to life for violations and convictions, such as:
- Driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol/drugs.
- Leaving the scene of an accident you are involved in.
- Excessive speeding and reckless driving.
- Violating railroad-highway grade crossing rules.
You will have to surrender your California Commercial Driver’s License and you will receive an Order of Suspension/Revocation from the arresting officer involved in your case. This will include a temporary driver’s license you can use for 30 days after your arrest. If you wish to contest your CDL suspension, you may be able to request a hearing with the DMV.
Reinstate your California Commercial Driver’s License after a DUI
The requirements to reinstate your commercial driver’s license in California will vary depending on the reason your license was suspended. Typically you will have to wait out the entire duration of your suspension period and pay reissue fees to the California DMV to have your commercial driver’s license reinstated. However, you may be eligible for a restricted non-commercial driver’s license to use while your commercial driver’s license is suspended. If your CDL was suspended, you may be eligible for a restricted commercial license if:
- Your CDL has not previously been suspended.
- You driving a non-commercial vehicle when you received your CDL suspension.
A restricted commercial driver’s license will allow you to drive to and from work. You can receive a restricted CDL 30 days after you receive your Order of Suspension and it will be valid for 6 months. To apply for a restricted driver’s license or to determine your eligibility you will need to contact the DMV.
If you have a commercial driver’s license and have been charged with DUI having an experienced DUI attorney on your side can help. If you’d like to schedule a free initial consultation to discuss the details of our case please contact us today at (559) 222-5800.