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California DUI and Commercial Driver’s Licenses (CDL): What You Must Know


If you were charged with driving under the influence, you may be worried about penalties that could include fines, jail, and driver’s license suspension. But if you have a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL), you’re likely worried about job loss, as well.

That’s because you can’t drive a commercial vehicle while your CDL is suspended, so you will likely need to pivot to another career that does not involve driving if you’re convicted of a DUI. Fortunately, it’s possible for your DUI charges to be dropped or reduced to a less serious charge when you hire a skilled DUI lawyer to defend you in court.

How Does a DUI with a CDL Differ from a Standard DUI?

When you have a CDL, the consequences of a DUI are more serious than they are for most drivers since you could lose your job if convicted. Of course, you spend more time on the road than most people do and your vehicle is much larger than most, so you must be held to a higher standard. This is especially the case if you transport hazardous cargo across the state or country, as an accident involving a tractor-trailer or other large commercial vehicle with dangerous cargo can have devastating results.

This is why DUI laws are stricter for drivers with CDLs than for anyone else. For most people, the legal limit is 0.08%. For commercial drivers, it’s 0.04%, making it easier for CDL holders to be charged with a DUI and potentially end their commercial driving career.

What Are the Penalties for a DUI with a CDL?

The legal consequences of a DUI conviction are much harsher for drivers with a CDL than those without one. For a typical first-offense DUI in California, you can lose your driver’s license for at least four months, but that increases to one year if you have a CDL.

That penalty alone can be life changing, since this means you can’t drive for a year and will need to find a job that doesn’t involve driving. While you can get your license reinstated once the suspension ends, it will be hard to find employers willing to hire CDL holders with a DUI. Additionally, if you have two DUIs on your record, you’re barred from ever getting your CDL back.

Many people who get DUIs are eligible to request a restricted license so they can drive to work or school, but this isn’t an option if you have a CDL. Not only will you lose your career and be unable to drive for a year, but you’ll also face the other penalties that all California DUIs come with. This includes jail time, fines, an alcohol education course, and probation. If you want a chance to avoid these consequences, you need to talk to a DUI lawyer about your legal options as soon as possible.

Are There Any Solid Legal Defenses for This Charge?

The penalties for a DUI with a CDL are serious, but you’ll only be subject to them if you’re convicted. Hiring a lawyer will give you a chance to defend yourself from serious criminal accusations, so you should talk to one about your case.

Experienced DUI defense lawyers have the legal knowledge to create defense strategies that might surprise you. For example, your lawyer might argue that the arresting officer followed you and pulled you over without probable cause or didn’t read you your rights.

Skilled attorneys can also argue that the breath, blood, or field sobriety tests you took were improperly administered or the results were incorrectly stored. In short, the evidence against you may not be as strong as you think, which is why it’s worth your time to talk to a DUI defense lawyer about your DUI case.

If you want to find out how trusted attorneys can assist with your case, contact Patrick Silva, Attorneys at Law. We understand how important it is to avoid conviction and keep your CDL, so we’ll do everything we can to get the outcome you want. When you call 909-500-4819, you can get a free initial consultation to discuss the legal defense options for your DUI case.

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