Finding Work as a Commercial Driver After a DUI


Due to the size and weight of the vehicles they drive, commercial drivers are held to a higher standard when it comes to driving under the influence of intoxicants. While the legal intoxication limit is .08% for drivers over the age of 21 in California, the legal limit is just .04% for commercial drivers.

If you’re a commercial driver and you were recently arrested for driving under the influence (DUI) in Orange County, you’ll undoubtedly be concerned about retaining your current job, as well as your ability to get hired in a driving-based occupation in the future. After all, this is your livelihood!

According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), commercial drivers who are arrested for DUI or test positive for drugs or alcohol during random testing must be disqualified by their employer from operating a CMV.

How long is the license suspension?

For a first DUI conviction, a commercial driver can have their CDL suspended for one year. For a second conviction, a driver could have their CDL disqualified for life.

A criminal DUI conviction is separate from license suspension, which is a matter handled by the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). For commercial drivers, a third element is added to the mix – FMCSA regulations.

Were you convicted of DUI? If you were convicted of DUI, the mandatory 1-year disqualification to drive a CMV applies to you.

Did you test positive for drugs/alcohol? Generally, it is up to the employer whether to take disciplinary actions against the employee. At the very least, they can suspend you until you re-take and pass a drug/alcohol test.

Was your license suspended by the DMV? If you were arrested under suspicion of DUI as a commercial driver and tested at or above .04% percent BAC, your license could be suspended for four months (first offense) or one year (second offense in 10 years). Commercial drivers can only apply for a restricted driver's license if they downgrade to a Class C non-commercial license.

Why Expungement Might Be a Good Option

Section 1203.4 of the California Penal Code allows qualifying individuals to have certain criminal convictions expunged from their criminal record. The most common form of expungement effectively re-opens a criminal case, and a "not guilty" verdict is entered where there once was a guilty verdict.

To qualify for expungement, an individual must successfully complete all terms of their DUI probation. Although a DUI can be expunged from your record, this does not release you from any non-criminal consequences such as being penalized by your employer, having your license suspended by the DMV, or being disqualified from operating a CMV by the FMCSA.

If you were convicted of DUI and were disqualified from operating a CMV for one year, and that year has passed, you may be trying to find employment again as a commercial driver.

If you have fulfilled the terms of your probation, the year disqualification has passed, and all other qualifications are met, obtaining an expungement of your DUI may benefit you when it comes to searching for a job as a commercial driver.

For more information on DUI convictions as they relate to commercial driver's licenses, contact an Orange County DUI lawyer at the Law Offices of Virginia L. Landry, Inc. for professional assistance!

We provide free initial case evaluations – just call (949) 537-2202.

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