In Pennsylvania, people who have commercial driver’s licenses must follow a much stricter standard than other drivers under state and federal laws for driving while impaired. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has established regulations governing people who drive buses, commercial trucks, and other commercial vehicles. If you have a CDL and drive for a living, the stakes will be much higher for you than they are for other drivers. If you are charged with a DUI as a commercial driver, you can face both criminal penalties and consequences to your career. DiCindio Law represents people who are facing CDL DUI charges and can talk to you about the options that you might have.
Who is covered by the FMCSA regulations about alcohol and drug use?
The FMCSA regulations about alcohol and drug use by commercial drivers govern both employers and drivers. Some examples of the parties that may be covered by the regulations include the following:
- People and companies that own or lease commercial vehicles
- Companies that assign routes to CDL drivers
- Local, state, and federal governments
- Civic organizations that transport passengers
- Bus companies
- Private motor carriers
- For-hire motor carriers
- Truck and bus drivers
Blood alcohol limits under the FMCSA regulations
The blood alcohol limits under the FMCSA regulations are 0.04% for commercial drivers. Most states, including Pennsylvania, have adopted the blood alcohol limits as established by the FMCSA for commercial truck drivers. Under federal regulations, commercial drivers are also not allowed to drive commercial vehicles within four hours of consuming alcohol.
Alcohol and drug tests for CDL drivers under FMCSA regulations
Under the FMCSA regulations, commercial drivers are required to submit to random alcohol tests. They are also required to submit to alcohol or drug tests after being involved in accidents or when there is a reasonable suspicion that they might be under the influence. Drivers might also be required to submit to alcohol or drug tests as a condition of returning to work after violating an alcohol or drug policy. Finally, drivers may be required to submit to drug tests as a condition of employment.
If a commercial driver refuses to submit to a breath or blood test after being stopped and arrested for a DUI, the driver will face harsher penalties. Under the FMCSA’s regulations, a refusal is treated the same way as being found guilty of a DUI.
Impact of a commercial DUI
While commercial drivers are subject to lower BAC thresholds, they can be charged with DUIs despite the fact that they are below the state’s legal limit for non-commercial drivers. A CDL DUI can also result in a longer period of disqualification than a traditional DUI. In Pennsylvania, a first DUI conviction as a CDL driver will result in a one-year disqualification.
Unlike other people who commit first DUI offenses, a CDL driver cannot avoid a driver’s license suspension by participating in the Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition Program. If a CDL driver has two convictions for major traffic offenses, including a DUI, he or she will be disqualified from driving with a CDL for life. Getting a DUI as a CDL driver can result in a loss of your career.
As a CDL holder, you must notify your employer within 30 days after you are convicted of any traffic violation. For example, if you are convicted of a DUI in your car while you were not working, you must tell your employer. If your DUI causes your license to be suspended, your employer cannot employ you as a driver during the suspension period. It can be very difficult for CDL drivers who have DUIs on their records to find work.
Penalties for a first-offense commercial DUI in Pennsylvania
Under 75 Pa.C.S. § 3802(f), you can be convicted of a commercial DUI if you are a commercial driver with a BAC of 0.04% or higher within two hours of driving. However, if you are a school bus driver, the BAC limit is 0.02%. The penalties for a first-offense CDL DUI include the following:
- Minimum two days up to six months in jail
- Fines and charges from $500 to $5,000
- Suspension of your regular driver’s license for at least 12 months
- Disqualification of your CDL license for 12 months or three years for a HazMat endorsement
Other penalties that are required for a first-offense CDL DUI include attending an alcohol highway safety school, complying with any alcohol or drug treatment that might be ordered by the judge, and possibly completing 150 hours of community service.
Penalties for a second CDL DUI offense in Pennsylvania
If you are convicted of a second DUI offense as a CDL driver in Pennsylvania, you will face the following penalties:
- First-degree misdemeanor
- Lifetime disqualification for a CDL license
- 18-month suspension of your regular driver’s license
- 90 days to five years in jail
- Fine of $1,500 up to $10,000
- 150 hours of community service
- Alcohol highway safety school
- Comply with alcohol and drug treatment if ordered
If you are convicted of a third DUI offense with a BAC of 0.16% or higher, it is a third-degree felony. All fourth convictions are also third-degree felonies that carry prison time.
Get help from an experienced CDL DUI attorney at DiCindio Law
If you are facing charges for a commercial DUI or have a CDL license and have been charged with a DUI in your car during your off-hours, it is crucial for you to talk to an experienced DUI defense lawyer as soon as possible. Because of the high stakes involved for CDL drivers, you should not accept a plea without an attorney’s advice. Contact DiCindio Law today to schedule a free consultation by filling out our contact form or calling us at 610.430.3535.