A DUI for a CDL holder could end their careers. So, if you are a commercial driver or truck driver, who has been charged with driving under the influence in Marion County, reaching out to an experienced and successful Indianapolis CDL DUI lawyer can make all the difference.
Arrested for an OWI and you have a CDL? Contact Hessler Law and speak to attorney Sean Hessler right toady at (317) 886-8800. Let him review what happened, assess the evidence, explain how to keep you CDL, and what comes next.
Indiana OWI/DUI Laws for CDL Holders
CDL holders are held to a higher standard compared to average motorists. As professional drivers, they are expected to drive well, maintain public safety, and never get behind the wheel while impaired.
In addition, what Indiana defines as impairment is also different for commercial driver’s license holders. These higher standards literally mean different DUI laws for commercial drivers to follow.
BAC Limits for CDL Holders
Most people think you need a 0.08% BAC to be guilty of drunk driving – and this is true if you’re driving your own vehicle. But according to Indiana Code 9-24-6.1-6, CDL holders in a commercial motor vehicle (CMV) with a BAC of 0.04 5 or higher will be charged with an OWI. This is a prime example of the higher standard commercial drivers are held to.
Commercial drivers must make sure to drink very little or none at all before they have to work. It doesn’t take much to blow over 0.04%.
Driving a commercial vehicle at or above 0.04% is a Class C infraction.
All drivers, whether or not they’re in a commercial vehicle, can be charged and found guilty of operating a vehicle while intoxicated if any alcohol, drugs, or a combination of the two impair their ability to drive safely. This means a BAC level isn’t the only measure of whether a driver will be charged with a DUI. Drivers can be impaired by controlled substances or prescription medications that make them unfit to drive but don’t result in a BAC at all.
Implied Consent for Commercial Drivers
By having a commercial driver’s license, people have already agreed to submit to alcohol testing. If you are a commercial driver and you’re pulled over in your truck, you must comply with an officer’s request to take a breath test. Not doing so will result in an automatic suspension of your CDL license. You may also lose your CDL if you later refuse to take a blood-alcohol or other chemical test.
The Effects of a DUI on a CDL
If a CDL holder is found guilty of drunk driving while in a CMV (0.04% or higher) or in their own car (0.08% or higher), then they are disqualified from operating a CMV for 1 year in addition to the criminal penalties for a DUI.
If the person was driving a CMV with hazardous materials, then the first conviction for an OWI or a refusal to submit to a test will result in a 3-year CDL suspension.
A second drunk driving conviction or refusal to take a breath or chemical test while in a CMV or a personal vehicle results in a lifetime ban from holding a CDL. However, a driver may be able to request reinstatement after a decade.
A subsequent offense or the use of the CMV in the commission of a drug-related felony can result in a lifetime ban without any chance of reinstatement.
Other Consequences of an OWI on Commercial Drivers
The repercussions of a DUI on a CDL holder cannot be understated. One mistake can set back a person’s career for years. Suffering a 1- or 3-year suspension is a significant period of time in which you need to find other work. If you’ve been a commercial driver for years, you may find it difficult to obtain work that pays as well as your driving position.
Even when your CDL is reinstated, you may have trouble finding work. Most trucking companies run a background check on potential drivers and will see your OWI conviction and previous CDL suspension. These businesses may choose not to hire you because they consider you a risk. However, you may be able to prove you’re no longer a risk if you received alcohol or drug treatment, the OWI was years in the past, and you’ve had a clean driving record since the offense. However, this scenario requires both time and the company’s faith in you.
Your auto insurance rates will rise significantly from an OWI conviction as well.
How an Indianapolis CDL DUI Lawyer Can Help
Maintaining your CDL and endorsements is your livelihood. A mistake or false accusation like an OWI can threaten your ability to provide for yourself and your family. An experienced DUI lawyer can review what happened and clearly explain your next steps.
If there are problems with how a DUI test was conducted or the result is questionable, your attorney may be able to have the case dismissed. There may also be some diversion or treatment program that lets you keep your professional license. In some cases, there may be ways to have the legality of the initial stop called into question.
It’s important to remember you still have options even if you’re charged with a DUI and are a CDL holder. Call an experienced Indianapolis CDL DUI attorney at Hessler Law. Call (317) 886-8800 for a free and confidential consultation.