About California Commercial DUI

keys next to a shot of alcohol

Under Section 23152(d) of the California Vehicle Code, it’s against the law to drive a commercial vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .04 percent or above. The .04 percent BAC limit strictly applies to commercial vehicles. When a commercial driver is operating a motorcycle, or a standard passenger car, truck or SUV, the .08 percent legal limit applies.

Here are two examples of how the .04 and .08 percent limits would or would affect commercial drivers: Let’s say “Bob” is a commercial driver who decided to have beer with his dinner during a break. When Bob got back on the road in his semi-truck, he was arrested 15 minutes later for driving under the influence (DUI) when his BAC tested at .05. Because Bob was driving a commercial vehicle, he was subject to the .04 percent limit.

In the second example, Bob had the same number of drinks at dinner but this time he was driving his personal vehicle. As Bob headed home, he was pulled over for a broken tail light. The officer smelled alcohol on his breath so the officer had Bob take a roadside breath test, which registered at .05 BAC. Since Bob did not seem impaired, the officer decided to let him drive on home. In this situation, Bob wasn’t arrested for DUI at all.

What You Need to Know About Commercial DUI

If you’re a commercial driver, it’s important you’re aware that a DUI conviction, whether it happens in your personal vehicle or in a commercial vehicle can affect your commercial driver’s license (CDL). You don’t have to be driving a commercial vehicle for a DUI to affect your CDL and in effect, your livelihood.

Here’s what you need to know:

  • Your CDL will be affected if you are caught driving a commercial vehicle with a BAC of .04 or higher.
  • Your CDL will be affected if you’re caught driving a non-commercial vehicle with a BAC of .08 percent or above.
  • Your CDL will be affected if you’re convicted of DUI while driving a non-commercial or commercial vehicle while impaired by drugs or alcohol regardless of BAC.
  • Unlike non-commercial drivers, drivers of commercial vehicles cannot refuse a breath or blood test.

Potential DUI penalties for a commercial driver:

  • DUI probation,
  • DUI School,
  • Up to one year in jail,
  • Up to $1,000 in fines, and
  • At least one year suspension of CDL if convicted of non-commercial or commercial DUI in California.

If a commercial driver receives a second DUI, his or her license will be permanently revoked.  A second offense for a non-commercial driver typically results in a one-year suspension. When a non-commercial driver's driver's license is suspended, they can sometimes apply for a hardship license, which permits them to drive to work, school, and DUI classes.  This type of license is not available to commercial drivers.

Afraid your DUI charges will cause your CDL to be suspended? Contact the Orange County DUI defense attorneys at the Law Offices of Virginia L. Landry, Inc. for help!

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