Understanding DUI Laws And Commercial Licenses

Posted on: 18 August 2017


If you have a commercial driver's license and drive a bus, semi truck, dump truck, or another type of commercial vehicle, then you should know that you are held to a different legal standard when it comes to things like driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol. If you want to know a little bit about laws and standards that may affect you, then keep reading.

Lower Blood Alcohol Limit

If you know a little bit about some of the DUI laws, then you may know that the legal blood alcohol limit is set at .08%. However, when it comes to commercial drivers, the limit is half of this, at .04%. The standards for commercial drivers and blood alcohol limits are set by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). The goal of the FMCSA is to prevent injuries and accidents involving commercial vehicles. Regulations and standards are drafted and outlined by the administration and then adopted by local, state, and federal governments.

When it comes to the .04% BAC limit, you may only be able to have one to two drinks in an hour before exceeding the limit. If you are a woman, then you may only be able to have one drink an hour before you are legally impaired. Since BAC does relate directly to your weight, it is wise to look at a chart so you can come up with a general idea of how much you can drink. 

While your BAC is something you need to consider, you should also know that the FMCSA dictates that a commercial driver should not operate a vehicle within about four hours of consuming alcohol. This means that even if you are under the legal limit in terms of your BAC, you may still be held liable for any accidents that occur if there are trace amounts of alcohol in your system, even if they are low enough that a DUI cannot be issued.

Steeper Consequences For Refused Testing

You may know that you have the right to refuse a blood alcohol test whether an officer wants you to submit to a breathalyzer or a blood test. While this is true, there are often consequences for doing so. Your license may be suspended, or you may be charged with the crime of failing to consent to the testing. This is often a separate offense that comes with its own fines. 

When it comes to a commercial license and a stop for a suspected DUI, you still have the right to refuse tests. However, under the regulations of the FMCSA, the refusal to consent to sobriety testing is seen as the same as pleading guilty to a DUI offense. In other words, the refusal will result in an automatic DUI guilty plea. Not only does the FMCSA indicate that BAC tests can and should be completed, but you may need to submit to a more comprehensive drug test if an accident has occurred. This is often a requirement for you to return to your job and to be able to use your commercial license. In many cases, your license will be suspended until the results of the tests come back.

If you do not go through the mandatory testing, then it is highly likely that your commercial license will be suspended. This may be a temporary or permanent action that can obviously result in the loss of your job.

If you have questions about possible DUI offenses or about how one could affect your commercial driver's license, then speak to a DUI attorney at a law firm such as Winstein, Kavensky & Cunningham, LLC.