Being a commercial truck driver carries a lot of responsibilities. Both the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the federal government have strict regulations that help keep motorists safe when they’re on the road. Pennsylvania law surrounding DUI charges for CDL holders is complex. If you are a commercial driver who has been charged with driving under the influence, it is vital to contact a local defense attorney to help preserve your livelihood and ensure your rights are protected.
DUI Penalties for CDL Holders
In Pennsylvania, CDL holders are held to a higher standard than other motorists, and the consequences for DUI are severe. Even if you have been charged with a DUI while driving your own personal vehicle you can still lose your CDL. Generally, the legal limit for Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) is .08 in Pennsylvania. However, for CDL holders operating a commercial vehicle the legal limit is half that–.04.
Whether you were driving your commercial vehicle or personal vehicle, if you are convicted of a DUI your CDL will be suspended for at least one year, your regular driver’s license may be suspended for a period of time, and you will face other serious fines and penalties. If you were transporting hazardous materials, your CDL will be suspended for three years. It is also important to keep in mind that even if you are eligible for an ARD program you will still lose your CDL license for one year. Because DUI laws vary from state to state it is best to have a local Chester County criminal lawyer who understands the nuances of not only Pennsylvania law but FMSCA regulations as well.
Penalties for First Offense Commercial DUI
- Two days to six months in jail
- $500-$5,000 fine
- Personal license suspension: up to 12 months for your non-CDL license
- Commercial License suspension: at least 12 months for CDL and three years for carrying hazardous materials
You may also be required to perform community service, attend alcohol highway safety classes, alcohol and drug treatment and you will most likely lose your job with your trucking company, and if you are an independent driver, any contracts you had to transport cargo will be terminated. It will be nearly impossible to get any jobs involving a CDL in the future. For second, third and subsequent offenses, jail time and fines increase substantially. Your CDL may also be permanently revoked. Drivers who own their trucks and work independently may want to consult with a business contract lawyer to determine exactly how a DUI conviction will harm their ability to earn a living.
How an Attorney Can Help
Seeking the counsel of an experienced attorney is your best bet for beating a DUI charge. The only way to protect your career as a commercial driver is to have charges dropped or fight them in court and achieve a not-guilty verdict. Do not admit fault, speak to anyone or accept a plea deal before talking with your attorney. Being represented by a skilled West Chester criminal lawyer will advise you on the best course of action and increase your chances of a positive outcome.