A DUI conviction can damage anyone’s life. But DUI charges are especially harmful to commercial drivers. For someone who drives for a living, a DUI in your work vehicle or personal car could mean a complete loss of income or losing your job all together. You may think there’s nothing to do but accept your fate, but an experienced DUI lawyer can improve your situation. If you are a CDL holder and have been arrested for driving under the influence in or around Chester County, PA, contacting a CDL DUI lawyer as soon as possible is the best way to protect your career.
At Skinner Law Firm, we will explain your options and pursue a result that helps you keep your CDL. We represent truck drivers and other professional drivers accused of impaired driving in West Chester, Phoenixville, Kennett Square, Oxford, Coatesville, and across Chester County. Schedule a free consultation with attorney Michael J. Skinner at (610) 436-1410 or contact us online.
Some drivers believe they can fight a DUI on their own by reading about common defenses and trying to discredit the evidence against them.
However, there is a lot at stake for those with a CDL. When it comes to a CDL and DUI arrest, the choice to handle things yourself is a gamble with your future. And it could impact your ability to work for the rest of your life.
If you choose an attorney with extensive experience in CDL DUI cases, you can trust that they know all available DUI defenses and how to avoid the harshest CDL DUI penalties. To protect your CDL, having a CDL DUI lawyer is the best resource you can have.
Some CDL drivers are caught off-guard by the lower CDL legal limit for a DUI.
Most Pennsylvania drivers face DUI charges with a BAC of 0.08 or higher. However, commercial drivers are considered impaired if they have a BAC of 0.04 or higher.
Standards are even higher for those who drive a school bus. School bus drivers with a level of 0.02 or higher are considered highly impaired.
The standards for CDL holders don’t just apply to when they are in company vehicles. Commercial drivers are expected to hold themselves to a higher standard even when they are driving their personal vehicles, as the choice to drive while impaired may reflect poorly on a driver’s judgment and trustworthiness.
The legal penalties are stiff for CDL drivers convicted of driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. One of the first questions CDL holders ask is, “Do you lose your CDL if you have a DUI?”
Your first CDL leads to a 12-month revocation of your license. If you get a second DUI with a CDL, you lose your commercial license permanently.
Some drivers accept Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition, only to find out that they still lose their license for a full year. We frequently hear, “How do I get my CDL back after a DUI?”
Unfortunately, once convicted, you typically have to wait the full year before you can drive commercially again. State-level and federal CDL DUI laws are designed to keep unsafe drivers from being in control of commercial vehicles.
On top of losing your license, you face fees and potential jail time with a DUI conviction. Since legal limits are lower for commercial drivers than for personal drivers, you can expect your fees and jail sentence to be higher than they would be if you did not have a CDL.
First-time conviction fines range from $500 to $5,000, and you could spend up to six months in jail. Subsequent convictions, in addition to causing a lifetime CDL revocation, can cost you up to $10,000 in penalties and five years in prison.
The only way to avoid these consequences is to fight the charges and get them dismissed.
In addition to the obvious legal penalties of a DUI, you face an uphill battle when it comes to rebuilding your commercial driving career. You’ll almost certainly be fired after your conviction, since you cannot drive commercially for a full year.
Even once you get your CDL back, you may find it difficult to get a job. Most trucking companies choose not to hire drivers with DUIs on their record. Regardless of where you were in your career before your conviction, you are likely to find yourself with less seniority and at a lower pay rate once you get your license back.
Your conviction will likely come with serious financial repercussions. If your insurance company keeps you after your DUI conviction, expect your rates to jump dramatically. That is the best possible outcome, since many commercial drivers find themselves unable to get insurance after a DUI. It takes years of safe driving without any traffic incidents for your CDL insurance rates to return to a reasonable level.
At Skinner Law Firm, we know how important it is for you to avoid a conviction and protect your CDL after a DUI arrest. Options that may work for personal drivers, such as Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition, are often impractical for those who work in commercial driving. Attorney Skinner will comb through the evidence and build a case that protects you from the financial, legal, and career consequences of a DUI.