Driving while intoxicated (DWI) issues become more complex if the driver has a commercial driver's license (CDL) and was operating a commercial vehicle such as a large truck or semi at the time of the arrest. Given the seriousness of these issues, it is vital that anyone with a CDL charged with a DWI immediately hire an attorney. Time is of the essence.
Commercial Driver's Licenses—Different Legal Standards Apply
Holders of a commercial driver's license are not permitted to drive while intoxicated, whether from the use of alcohol or any drugs, illegal narcotics, or other chemical substances.
Under Texas state law, a commercial driver operating a commercial motor vehicle on a public road can be found guilty of a DWI with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.04 or more. That is only half of the BAC allowed for commercial drivers when they are operating non-commercial vehicles.
Not only is the standard for DWI lower, but the possible penalties are more severe.
The consequences began immediately. If you refused to take a blood alcohol test at the scene of an arrest, that could result in suspension of your driver's license for 180 days and loss of your CDL for one year.
A first offense conviction would be a Class B misdemeanor with a minimum term of confinement of three days, a possible jail sentence of not more than 180 days, and a possible fine of up to $3,000. At the same time, a CDL-holder sees a different impact on their driver's license. If they are proven to have had a BAC of 0.04 or greater while operating a commercial vehicle, they can lose their CDL for three years.
Have You Been Charged With Driving While Intoxicated?
While the seriousness of the issue can not be overstated, it is important to realize that a charge is not the same as a conviction, and an experienced attorney can make all the difference.
For example, most people believe that the loss of a license is automatic, after the refusal to take a breathalyzer test. While 180 days off the road might be an inconvenience for the average driver, losing a year of a commercial license would be financially catastrophic for a professional driver.
But the reality is that you are not without recourse: You can fight the suspension in an administrative hearing. The key is that you must request this hearing no later than 15 days after an arrest.
Given the seriousness of a DWI charge involving the use of a truck or other commercial vehicle, you need a lawyer who understands all the issues involved. Your livelihood depends on it. And there is no time to waste.
Heralded as one of the Best Lawyers in America by US News & World Report every year since 2013, Doug is a Certified Specialist in criminal law and DWI defense, one of only two attorneys in the entire state of Texas to hold both credentials. Hire the best to minimize and repair the damage—to your truck, your career, and your future.