There are millions of vehicles traveling on the road and highways of the US each day including cars, vans, and trucks, as well as a number of commercial vehicles. Commercial vehicles tend to be larger and heavier than other cars and those who drive these vehicles must get a special license. This license is called a commercial driver's license (CDL). In Georgia, a CDL is defined as "a license issued in accordance with the requirements of this article to an individual which authorizes the individual to drive a class of commercial motor vehicle." Ga. Code Ann. § 40-5-142(6) (2015).
There are several things that a CDL holder needs to be aware of. First, a CDL holder can face different and potentially harsher penalties if he or she is arrested and convicted of driving under the influence. This is because CDL holders are held to a higher standard than a normal driver. In addition, a person with a CDL can face these penalties even if he or she is driving a non-commercial vehicle at the time of his or her arrest. As a DUI can impact a commercial driver's ability to make a living, it is important to take any DUI charges seriously and hire an experienced and knowledgeable attorney. If you have been arrested for driving under the influence, contact Alpharetta DUI Attorney attorney Richard Lawson today.
What Is A Commercial Vehicle?
In Georgia, a commercial vehicle is "a motor vehicle designed or used to transport passengers or property" is considered to be a commercial vehicle. § 40-5-142(7). Under the law, these vehicles are defined as:
- Those that have "a gross vehicle weight rating of 26,001 or more pounds or such lesser rating as determined by federal regulation."
- Those that are "designed to transport 16 or more passengers, including the driver."
- Those that transport "hazardous materials as designated under 49 U.S.C. Section 5103 and is required to be placarded in accordance with the Motor Carrier Safety Rules prescribed by the United States Department of Transportation, Title 49 C.F.R. Part 172, subpart F or is transporting any quantity of a material listed as a select agent or toxin in Title 42 C.F.R. Part 73." Id.
Commercial Drivers And DUI
A driver who holds a CDL and is operating a commercial vehicle when pulled over for driving under the influence is subject to a different blood alcohol content (BAC) limit than a regular driver. In most states, Georgia included, the BAC threshold is lower for a commercial vehicle. The law states that "[a] person shall not drive or be in actual physical control of any moving commercial motor vehicle while there is 0.04 percent or more by weight of alcohol in such person's blood, breath, or urine." § 40-6-391(i). The general legal BAC limit is .08. § 40-6-391(a)(5).
If a CDL holder is driving a commercial vehicle at the time of his or her arrest, then that person will face the penalties pertinent to that violation. However, as previously mentioned, a CDL holder can still face these same penalties when driving a noncommercial vehicle, although a CDL holder who is pulled over in a regular vehicle is subject to the general legal BAC limit of .08 instead of the lower BAC applicable to those operating a commercial vehicle. You can contact Alpharetta DUI Lawyers if you are in need of an experienced and knowledgeable attorney to represent and defend your case.
Implied Consent And License Suspension
Every state in the union has adopted some form of an implied consent law, including Georgia. Like non-commercial drivers, commercial drivers are subject to the state's implied consent law. The law states:
- "Any person who drives a commercial motor vehicle anywhere in the state shall be deemed to have given consent, subject to the provisions of Code Sections 40-5-55 and 40-6-392, to a test or tests of that person's blood, breath, or urine for the purpose of determining that person's alcohol concentration or the presence of other drugs." § 40-5-153(a).
Thus, by driving on the roads and highways of Georgia, a driver who is suspected of driving under the influence has given his or her implied consent to take a chemical test. A driver who refuses to take a chemical test, either blood, breath, or urine, may face additional criminal or administrative consequences.
If a commercial driver refuses to take a DUI test he or she can risk the evidence of that refusal being used against them at trial. In addition, he or she may lose their license for one year. However, Roswell DUI Attorneys can help build and defend your case.
License Suspension Hearings
If a commercial driver, or any driver for that matter, has been charged with a DUI, that driver has the opportunity to request a hearing over the license suspension with the Georgia Department of Driver Services. It is important to note that a driver has just thirty days after his or her arrest to request a license suspension hearing. Failing to comply with this limited deadline may result in a driver losing his or her right to contest the license suspension. A suspended license can have a significant impact on a person's life, especially a person who drives for a living.
Length of License Suspension For DUI Convictions
The amount of time a license may be suspended will depend on what a driver is convicted of. A first DUI conviction for a commercial driver can result in that driver being disqualified from driving a commercial vehicle for one year. § 40-5-151(a.1). If a driver is convicted of driving under the influence a second time, the penalty is much more severe. A second DUI can result in a driver being "disqualified from driving a commercial motor vehicle for life." § 40-5-151(c). Unfortunately, while some states permit license reinstatement after a certain number of years after a lifetime disqualification, Georgia is not one of them.
Criminal Penalties For Commercial DUI
In addition to having his or her license suspended, a driver who has been convicted of a DUI can face additional consequences. A first DUI conviction in Georgia can result in:
- Fines: The fine could be between $300-$1000
- Jail Time: A person convicted of DUI could face a minimum of 24 hours all the way up to 12 months in prison. A common punishment is between 1-10 days behind bars.
- Community Service: A total of 40 hours of community service could be required. If the offender was under the age of 21 and had a BAC under .08 then he or she could be required to complete 20 hours of community service.
- Participation in, and completion of, a DUI Alcohol or Drug Risk Reduction Program: This must be done 120 days after a conviction or 90 days after getting out of jail.
- A clinical evaluation and treatment, if recommended
- Probation: The probation could last up to 12 months.
The first two DUI's that a person is convicted of are usually misdemeanor charges. However, the second DUI carries harsher penalties and the penalties increase with each additional DUI charge. A third DUI can be an aggravated misdemeanor and a fourth, a felony.
Contact A DUI Defense Attorney
If you have been arrested for driving under the influence and you hold a commercial driver's license, you want an experienced and knowledgeable Roswell DUI defense attorney to represent you. Please do not hesitate to contact the Law Offices of Richard Lawson at (404) 816-4440 or click here to fill out the online form.