To obtain a commercial driver’s license, drivers must meet different requirements from those seeking ordinary driver’s licenses, so it is unsurprising that the laws regarding driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, also known as DUI, are likewise different. The law holds commercial drivers to a higher standard because commercial drivers typically operate larger, heavier, more dangerous vehicles, such as trucks carrying hazardous materials, cargo-loaded big rigs, and busses filled with passengers. Driving a commercial vehicle, or CMV, under the influence can endanger dozens of people or more, so the consequences of doing so are heavier.
How are the Consequences Different?
It’s important to first note that, under Florida law, simply driving a CMV with any alcohol at all in your bloodstream is a moving violation subject to a potential fine and prohibited from operating a CMV for 24 hours.
To be convicted of a DUI while operating a CMV, the defendant needs to have a blood alcohol level of only .04. This is half the level a driver of a regular passenger vehicle needs for a conviction. So, it is much easier for a prosecutor to obtain a conviction in a commercial vehicle DUI care.
Disqualification from Operating a CMV is a Real Possibility
Additionally, commercial drivers convicted of a DUI may be disqualified from driving a commercial vehicle for one year for a first offense, and permanently disqualified for a second offense. And the driver cannot apply for a hardship reinstatement to operate a commercial vehicle.
If the driver has a blood alcohol level of .08 or more, the disqualification becomes effective immediately, and the officer is authorized to issue a temporary 10-day driver’s license, but only for non-commercial vehicles.
Protect Yourself – and Others
Because the danger to others from operating a CMV while under the influence of alcohol or drugs are so high, the consequences for a commercial driver convicted of a DUI can imperil that driver’s means of earning a living. While the law seeks to protect the public, the driver must seek to protect the driver’s interests. With the stakes so high, be sure to consult with expert attorneys who understand both the law and that a person’s livelihood is on the line. The attorneys at Epstein and Robbins have years of experience, and can offer strategic thinking and peace of mind.