It is never advisable to drink and drive. The risks that it entails are simply not worth what little payoff it offers, and for commercial drivers, this is even more true. Not only is the risk of injury and loss of life greater for commercial drivers, but the punishments imposed on those who are caught driving under the influence are far more severe than those imposed on standard DUIs.
What is a DUI, and When Can I Be Tested?
DUI stands for ‘driving under the influence.’ This pertains to both narcotics and alcohol. Being caught driving over the 0.04 blood alcohol level (BAC) mandated for commercial drivers in most states is a heavy offense that can cripple a commercial driver’s career.
According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) you can be stopped under a number of circumstances to be tested for your BAC. This can be done after a traffic incident when there is reasonable suspicion or at a law enforcement officer’s discretion, which includes, at random. You are required to submit to this test as a commercial driver, otherwise, it is viewed as the equivalent to admitting to a DUI.
For drug testing, you cannot be tested randomly, but may be tested as a condition of employment, when there is reasonable suspicion, after a traffic incident or as a condition of returning to work after a drug policy violation.
What are the Punishments?
The same criminal law proceedings will be undertaken as those in a non-commercial DUI, however the punishments are far harsher and more extreme. This includes longer license suspension times or, for offenders who receive a second DUI charge, their commercial license will be suspended for life.
This begs the question, what will become of your regular driver’s license during all of this? That will depend on where you receive the DUI. In many states, you will have your license suspended for a pre-determined period of time, alongside your commercial license. Furthermore, if you receive a DUI in your personal motor vehicle, this can impact your ability to work as a commercial driver. You will be required to notify your employer within 30 days of receiving a DUI and if your license is suspended, you will be unable to be employed as a driver for the duration.