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Do You Lose Your CDL If You Get a DUI?

Driving Under the Influence Charges for Commercial Drivers

It is illegal for anyone—regardless of age or driver’s license status—to operate a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs anywhere in the state of Florida. When it comes to DUI laws, the rules for commercial driver’s license (CDL) holders are stricter than they are for Class C and other drivers.

While non-commercial drivers are not allowed to operate a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08% or higher, commercial driver’s license holders cannot drive if their BAC is 0.04% or higher. In addition to facing significant jail or even prison time and steep fines, commercial drivers convicted of DUI also face automatic CDL suspension. If there are aggravating factors present, such as a prior DUI conviction, the commercial driver could lose their CDL for up to 10 years or even the rest of their life.

DUI Laws for Commercial Drivers in Florida

Operating a large commercial vehicle, such as a semi-truck or tractor-trailer, comes with certain inherent dangers. As such, commercial drivers are held to strict safety standards by both federal and state laws. In addition to hours-of-service rules, truck inspection regulations, and special training requirements, commercial drivers are subject to specific laws when it comes to driving intoxicated or being in possession of a controlled substance.

In Florida, commercial vehicle operators face automatic CDL suspension if they:

  • Operate a motor vehicle with a BAC of 0.04% or higher
  • Operate a motor vehicle while impaired by alcohol or drugs
  • Operate a motor vehicle while in possession of a controlled substance
  • Refuse to take a blood alcohol level test, such as a breathalyzer or urine test
  • Drive a commercial vehicle 15 miles per hour or more above the posted speed limit
  • Drive recklessly, including excessive speeding or engaging in road rage behaviors
  • Receive citations for two or more serious traffic offenses within a three-year period

Depending on the severity of the infraction, a CDL holder could face automatic driver’s license suspension of one to three years. In many cases, commercial drivers cannot request a hardship license. A commercial driver can only request a hardship license after refusing to take a chemical BAC test after being pulled over and/or arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

In most cases, commercial drivers face an automatic one-year suspension for any of the above infractions. However, if a commercial driver is hauling hazardous materials and is arrested for DUI, their CDL will automatically be suspended for a period of three years.

Is a CDL Automatically Reinstated After the Suspension Period?

The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicle (FLHSMV) does not automatically reinstate commercial driver’s licenses at the end of automatic suspension periods. Instead, it may require the original CDL holder to complete a mandatory substance abuse treatment program, pay all related fines, satisfy criminal court requirements, and even retake and pass CDL exams. Additionally, the CDL holder will be required to pay various reinstatement fees, ranging from $60 or $75 to $130.

When Is a CDL Suspended for Longer Than One to Three Years?

The FLHSMV may suspend a commercial driver’s license for more than the standard one to three years when a commercial driver is convicted of a “major” infraction.

Examples of major infractions include:

  • Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, particularly with a BAC that far exceeds the maximum allowable BAC of 0.04%
  • Leaving the scene of an accident without stopping to provide identification and/or render reasonable aid (known as a “hit and run”)
  • Driving a commercial vehicle with a suspended or revoked CDL
  • Using a commercial vehicle to commit a felony
  • Causing the death of another person by negligently operating a commercial vehicle

These major infractions may lead to an immediate, long-term CDL suspension or even complete revocation of the driver’s CDL. In some cases, the commercial driver may have the opportunity to request CDL reinstatement after 10 years; in others, they face a lifetime CDL revocation and cannot seek reinstatement at any time.

Can a Commercial Driver Contest CDL Suspension?

A commercial driver can contest the automatic suspension of their CDL after a DUI arrest or another infraction. The commercial driver must file an appeal with the FLHSMV within 10 days of their CDL being suspended. If they fail to do so, they cannot contest their CDL suspension.

After filing an appeal, the commercial driver must attend an appeal hearing before the FLHSMV. Following the hearing, the FLHSMV may reinstate the driver’s CDL, or it may uphold the suspension.

What Role Does a CDL Suspension Play in a Truck Accident Investigation?

If you or someone you love was involved in a truck accident, determining whether the truck driver’s CDL was suspended can be a critical element of your case. During the truck accident investigation, your attorney will look at the police accident reports, driver’s logs, and other available evidence. If the truck driver’s CDL was suspended or revoked, this can help prove that the driver was driving under the influence and/or committed a major infraction, which likely contributed to the accident.

At The Law Offices of Ron Sholes, P.A., we conduct exhaustive investigations and gather all available evidence to build powerful cases on behalf of our clients. Reach out to our firm today to learn how we can help you with your potential case.

Contact us online or call (855) 933-3881 to schedule a complimentary consultation with our team.

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