While a DUI comes with major consequences for any Florida resident, a conviction is particularly serious for a commercial driver. Due to the inherent safety risks associated with operating a large commercial vehicle, drivers with a CDL are held to a higher standard.
Commercial Drivers Have Different BAC Rules
For the typical motorist over the age of 21, the legal blood alcohol content (BAC) is 0.08%. A person’s BAC depends on a number of factors, including their weight, sex, medications they are taking, and whether or not they are drinking on an empty stomach. However, drinking three to five servings of alcohol in an hour is generally enough for someone to be considered legally drunk.
For someone with a CDL, the legal BAC is only 0.04%. As you might expect, this means a person with a CDL could potentially face DUI charges after enjoying only one or two drinks with dinner.
Effect of Implied Consent Rules
All Florida drivers are subject to implied consent rules that require a blood or urine test after being pulled over on suspicion of drunk driving. If you refuse to submit to a test, your CDL will be suspended for 12 months even if the DUI charges are later dropped. If you refuse a test in a second incident, your CDL will be suspended permanently.
Refusal to comply with implied consent laws can be used against you in court. However, you are not required to consent to any field sobriety tests such as the walk and turn test, one-leg stand test, or finger to nose test.
After your arrest, you will be placed on out-of-service status for 24 hours. If you are convicted, your CDL will be disqualified for one year. The disqualification would increase to three years if you were hauling hazardous substances at the time of your arrest.
Additional DUI penalties include:
- Up to six months in jail
- Possible fine of up to $1,000
- Community service
- Mandatory completion of an alcohol evaluation and treatment program
Your CDL will not be automatically reinstated once the suspension has expired. You will need to pass the certification exams and pay reinstatement fees. You must also satisfy all requirements imposed by the criminal court before you will be allowed to regain your driving privileges.
In some cases, it is possible for a Florida driver to obtain a hardship license that allows for limited driving for employment, school, or medical purposes. However, a driver with a suspended CDL is ineligible for a hardship license. They must serve the full term of their suspension.
Obtaining a CDL After a DUI
If you are interested in becoming a commercial driver, you may find yourself wondering if a past DUI will be disqualifying. Florida law does allow drivers to apply for and receive a CDL if they have a past DUI conviction. However, the hiring policies of major carriers often make it difficult to find work with a DUI conviction on your record—especially if you’ve only recently had your driving privileges reinstated. Drivers with any recent offense are considered high risk and thus increase a company’s insurance rates.
Building a Defense
With your ability to earn a living at risk, it’s crucial that you consult an experienced DUI defense attorney as soon as you are charged with a DUI. At George Reres Law, some of the defenses we may use to get the charges against you dropped or reduced include:
- No probable cause for the stop
- Illegal seizure
- Forced compliance with voluntary roadside sobriety tests
- Non-compliance with administrative rules
- Unreasonable length of detention
- Violation of your Miranda rights
- Breath test operator was not properly trained, the machine wasn’t maintained, or evidence wasn’t handled correctly
If you wish to appeal the automatic suspension of our CDL after a failed BAC test or test refusal, you only have ten days to request a hearing. Our legal team can help you with this process.
Call us at (954) 523-3811 or fill out our contact form to request a confidential consultation.