A DUI can have a profound impact on your career opportunities. As a result of a DUI, you may be disqualified from jobs requiring a clean driving record and your criminal history can show up on background checks if you are convicted. For those with a commercial driver's license (CDL), however, a DUI can literally be a career-ender. You may be unable to find a trucking company to hire you when you have a history of a DUI conviction in South Carolina and you may face the suspension and revocation of your license to drive commercial vehicles.
If you have a CDL and you're arrested in either your personal vehicle or commercial motor vehicle, you need to begin developing an effective DUI defense right away to try to fight the charges. An experienced attorney who has represented commercial drivers can provide you with invaluable guidance and assistance in fighting to keep your ability to drive your commercial vehicle.
A CDL Driver Needs an Effective DUI Defense
Most drivers of commercial vehicles are subject to regulations imposed by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). FMCSA rules generally apply to:
- Trucks engaged in interstate commerce.
- Trucks with a gross vehicle weight rating of 26,001 or more pounds or towing a vehicle with a 10,000 pound or greater weight rating.
- Passenger vehicles in which 16 or more total people may be transported including the driver.
- Vehicles engaged in the transport of HAZMAT materials.
If you have a commercial license and drive a vehicle covered by Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations, you are going to be subject to both federal and state rules requiring the suspension of a CDL for impaired driving in a personal vehicle or in a professional vehicle.
Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations Section 383.51 outlines the situations under which a driver of a commercial motor vehicle should have his license suspended or revoked. According to this regulation, a CDL-holder's license can be revoked for a year for a first offense of refusal to undergo a BAC test when there is probable cause to suspect impairment (implied consent laws require both professional drivers and other motorists on the road to submit to a BAC test).
For a first conviction of DUI, whether under the influence of alcohol or any drugs or controlled substances, there is also a one-year license suspension. If the first conviction happens when transporting hazardous materials, the suspension is for three years. A second conviction of either a BAC test refusal or a second DUI conviction can lead to permanent lifetime loss of a commercial driver's license.
Under South Carolina laws, there is a lower BAC limit for drivers in commercial vehicles, as compared with those in passenger cars. If you have a BAC of just .04 or higher while operating a large truck or a passenger vehicle, you can be considered to be in violation of the law and driving while under the influence.
You need to be aggressive in responding to charges and developing a strategic DUI defense if you are accused of operating under the influence in your commercial vehicle or while on personal time.