Protect Your CDL & Your Livelihood!
The driver of any motor vehicle can be pulled over for driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol or drugs, but what if you drive for your job? Can you still be pulled over for DUI as a large truck driver? The short answer is, “Yes.”
Bus drivers, big rig operators, and other commercial drivers can be pulled over just like any other motor vehicle driver, and just like any other driver, they may be subjected to field sobriety and breathalyzer tests, drunk driving arrest, and conviction. Driving a commercial motor vehicle (CMV) for your job does not give you any sort of immunity when it comes to DUI; in fact, it is just the opposite. The consequences following a DUI arrest can have a much further reach for those with a commercial driver’s license (CDL) because commercial drivers are regulated by not only state traffic laws, but by specific rules and regulations set by the federal government.
Why What You Drive Matters
The drivers of commercial vehicles must have a different set of skills to operate such vehicles; thus, they must obtain a specific type of license, a commercial driver’s license (CDL), in order to lawfully operate their vehicle on public roads. Although every state has a CDL licensing program, the requirements for the CDL are set by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).
Commercial vehicles are wider, longer, and much heavier than passenger cars and have the potential to cause serious injury or death in any crash, which makes regulating the drivers of these vehicles a top priority. If you violate the CDL contract, you will face punitive action by the FMCSA as well as the state.
FMCSA Alcohol & Drug Rules
What Are They?
FMCSA rules state that it is illegal for any commercial vehicle driver to operate their vehicle while having a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.04 or more, which is much stricter than the state limit of .08 percent, or within four hours of consuming alcohol. Furthermore, CMV drivers are prohibited from refusing to submit to an alcohol test, or consuming alcohol within eight hours after a crash or until tested.
It is also illegal for a CMV driver to use any of the following substances: marijuana, cocaine, opiates (opium and codeine derivatives), amphetamines, methamphetamines, and phencyclidine (PCP).
Any CMV driver who is required to have a CDL is required to comply with the above general rules. Differences between state and federal law do not get a commercial driver off the hook for DUI. This means that although a commercial driver may be arrested for DUI in Maryland, which holds the legal BAC limit below.08 percent, if they have a BAC of .04 or above, they are still subject to federal prosecution.
How Are these Rules Enforced?
All CDL drivers are subject to these drug and alcohol tests:
- Random testing;
- Reasonable suspicion;
- Return-to-duty; and
Consequences of a Maryland Commercial Driver DUI Conviction
An everyday DUI arrest can carry serious penalties, including suspension of your driver’s license, impoundment of your vehicle, fines, imprisonment, and completion of an alcohol or drug treatment program.
In addition, the penalties and consequences of DUI conviction for a person who holds a CDL include:
- DUI Conviction – First Offense – Loss of CDL for one year
- DUI Conviction First Offense while Transporting Hazardous Materials Requiring Placard – Loss of CDL for 3 years
- DUI Conviction – Second Offense – Loss of CDL for Life
- DUI or DUID Conviction – First Offense While Operating a non-commercial vehicle in Maryland or another state – Loss of CDL for one year
It is important to note that these penalties apply whether you are convicted of drunk driving in the state or in another state.
Furthermore, according to FMCSA rules, a commercial driver who has failed any alcohol/drug test or has refused to submit to an alcohol/drug test is immediately removed from operating a commercial vehicle and must be evaluated by a substance abuse professional. Based on that evaluation, a substance abuse treatment program may also be required. Depending on the circumstances of the DUI, such as whether a driver failed a random test, has been convicted for DUI previously, or caused a fatal accident, they may also lose their CDL. The FMCSA may reinstate a CDL under certain circumstances after a period of 10 years.
What You Can Do Now
If you have been arrested for DUI in Maryland and hold a CDL, it is imperative that you contact an experienced Maryland DUI attorney to help save your commercial driver’s license and your job. If you are convicted of DUI and lose your CDL, you may have a very difficult time finding another job, resulting in undue financial and emotional hardships. In order to protect your future, it is essential that you choose the right attorney.
At Alpert Schreyer Poe, LLC, our experienced CDL DUI attorneys are former prosecutors with advanced knowledge of Maryland DUI laws. We have the necessary skills, resources, and experience to aggressively and successfully defend CDL drivers against DUI/DWI charges.