If you are a commercial driver and you are facing DUI charges in Florida, you are going to need legal advice from an experienced criminal defense attorney. Commercial drivers are held to a higher standard than drivers of standard-sized cars due to the fact that these large and heavy vehicles have the potential to cause far more damage, injury, and loss of life. For this reason, CDL drivers can be arrested for a DUI with a lower BAC than other drivers. Therefore, if you have caused an accident because you drove a commercial truck whilst under the influence of drugs or alcohol, the penalties that you will be facing have the potential to ruin your career.
At The Law Place, we have 75 years of combined experience. Our criminal defense lawyers have the skills and knowledge needed to fight for your rights and win reduced consequences or even a dismissal of your DUI charge.
For more information, call us today for a free consultation at (941) 444-4444. Our phone lines are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
When Can a CDL Holder Be Arrested for a DUI in Florida?
According to Florida Statute 316.193, any driver can be arrested and charged for drunk driving if a Florida law enforcement officer finds that:
- You are under the influence of alcohol or any chemical substance, and your normal faculties are impaired as a result.
- Your blood or breath alcohol content is above .08 percent.
The term“impairment” is subjective and will be based on the law enforcement officer’s assessment of you at the time of the traffic stop. Generally speaking, you can be arrested and charged with a DUI in Florida if:
- Your speech is slurred.
- There are obvious signs of the presence of alcohol or drugs, such as bottles or drug paraphernalia in the vehicle.
- You cannot focus your eyes when being interviewed by the officer.
- You failed the field sobriety test.
- The officer can smell alcohol or drugs.
The law is not exactly the same for commercial drivers. Like drivers of standard vehicles, commercial driver’s license holders can be arrested for drunk driving if the officer has evidence that shows that their normal faculties are impaired due to alcohol, or a combination of these, no matter what your BAC is. However, the legal limit for commercial drivers is .04 percent. This means that you can be charged for drunk driving with only half the amount of alcohol in your system, even if you do not appear to be inebriated.
What Penalties Will CDL Holders Face for Drunk Driving Convictions?
Any CDL driver who is convicted of driving under the influence, based on having a BAC above .04 percent or impairment due to drugs or alcohol, will be disqualified from driving a commercial vehicle for at least one year. This applies even if they were off-duty at the time of the stop.
If the CDL driver was transporting hazardous materials at the time of the accident, they could have their license suspended for a minimum of three years. Once they have completed their disqualification period, they will have to apply to have their commercial driver’s license reinstated. There are also other statutory consequences for CDL drivers who are convicted of drunk driving in North Port. For a first DUI offense and a BAC under .14 percent, the penalties are as follows:
- A fine between $500 and $1,000.
- 50 hours of mandatory community service.
- Up to six months in jail
- One year of combined jail time and probation.
- The requirement to complete a drug or alcohol education or treatment course.
- A criminal conviction permanently added to your record.
- Commercial license suspension for one year.
- Mandatory ignition interlock device (IID) to be used for up to six months if BAL was .15 percent or over.
Can Commercial Drivers Apply for a Hardship License in Florida?
As explained on the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FHSMV) website, there is a strict application process for hardship licenses for CDL drivers who have been convicted of drunk driving. This is in accordance with Florida Statute 316.193. You will need to apply to the FHSMV to have your commercial driver’s license reinstated. This is why any commercial driver who is accused of drunk driving in North Port is strongly advised to fight their DUI charge to protect their license and their livelihood.
According to Florida Statute 322.2615 and Florida Statute 322.64, drivers can request a review of their license suspension or disqualification from the FHSMV, who will review their case and decide if there are any reasonable grounds for amending, invalidating, or sustaining any current administrative suspensions and disqualifications. However, any decisions made by the FHSMV will not be considered in any trial for a violation of Florida Statute 316.193.
The following guidelines apply for any person who is convicted of a DUI in Florida if they want their driver’s license privilege reinstated for business or employment purposes:
- First DUI conviction – CDL drivers are required to attend DUI school and apply to FHSMV for hardship reinstatement.
- Subsequent DUI convictions – No hardship license will be given, except under the terms below.
- A second DUI conviction within a five-year period – Will result in a five-year driver’s license revocation period. Drivers can only apply for a hardship reinstatement hearing after completing a one-year suspension. They will be required to attend DUI school and complete a DUI supervision program during their entire revocation period. If they fail to report for treatment or counseling, they will face immediate cancellation of their hardship license.
- A third DUI conviction within 10 years of a previous DUI conviction – Will result in a 10-year driver’s license revocation period. Drivers can only apply for a hardship reinstatement hearing after completing a two-year suspension. They will be required to attend DUI school and complete a DUI supervision program during their revocation period. If they fail to report for treatment or counseling or treatment, they will face immediate cancellation of their hardship license.
- DUI manslaughter with no previous DUI convictions – Will result in permanent commercial driver’s license revocation. Drivers could be eligible to apply for hardship reinstatement after five years if certain requirements are met, such as no additional DUI arrests or arrests for driving without a valid license.
Any CDL driver who applies for a hardship driver’s license following a revocation period must not consume alcohol or take any controlled substance when driving any motor vehicle for 12 months prior to their possible reinstatement.
DUI Involving an Accident in North Port, FL.
If a commercial driver’s drunk driving resulted in an accident that caused property damage, serious bodily injury, or the death of a victim, the CDL driver would face the same criminal charges as any other road user, for example:
- DUI accident with minor injuries – This is classed as a first-degree misdemeanor in Florida. Penalties include up to 12 months in jail and a fine of up to $1,000.
- DUI accident with “serious bodily injury” – This is classed as a third-degree felony in Florida, and the penalties are significantly more severe. They include five years in a prison and a fine of up to $5,000.
- DUI manslaughter – This crime is classed as a second-degree felony in Florida, and those convicted can face fines of up to $10,000 and up to 15 years in prison.
- DUI manslaughter/ leaving the scene of the accident – If a driver leaves the scene of a DUI accident in North Port and fails to give information or render aid, they can be charged with a first-degree felony. Penalties include fines of up to $10,000 up to 30-years in prison.
Not only will you face criminal charges and license suspension, but the victim can also file a personal injury lawsuit against you if you are found guilty of drunk driving. When it comes to serious crimes of negligence, the state prosecutor or personal injury attorney will want to punish you to the fullest extent of the law and win large amounts of monetary compensation for the injury victim. This is why you will need an experienced attorney on your side who can protect your rights and your future. Call today for a free consultation.
Can CDL Drivers Refuse to Take a Breath or Blood Test?
Any driver who is pulled over in North Port because they are suspected of drunk driving will be asked to submit to a blood, breath, or urine test, also known as chemical tests. All drivers consent to take these tests when they are issued with their driver’s license and begin using the state’s roads. Any driver who refuses to take these tests when asked to do so by a law enforcement officer will face harsh consequences.
If you choose to refuse to take a chemical test following a traffic stop, you will automatically have your license suspended and will be disqualified from operating a commercial vehicle for at least 1 year. Commercial drivers will be given the opportunity to request a hearing to contest this suspension, but they must request a hearing within 10 days of the arrest and pay a fee.
We do not advise that you refuse to take a chemical test. The best course of action is to contact a Florida defense attorney immediately after your arrest. An experienced lawyer may be able to contest your charges and secure a dismissal or reduction of your DUI charge. Call us today for a free consultation with an experienced criminal defense lawyer.
How Can an Attorney Help Me Following a CDL Arrest in North Port, FL?
An experienced criminal defense attorney can challenge a DUI on legal, constitutional, or administrative grounds. If successful, your case could be dismissed by the court. There are four key ways that a defense lawyer will challenge your case:
- They will challenge the stop.
- They will challenge the accuracy of the field sobriety tests.
- They will challenge the breathalyzer results or results from any other chemical test.
- They will suppress any statements you gave.
Law enforcement officers are known for stopping vehicles on a “hunch” and using crude and inaccurate investigative methods. Furthermore, devices used to test your blood, breath, or urine for drugs or alcohol are subject to error. Despite the fact that these machines must meet strict government regulations, they are often insufficiently maintained. If your criminal defense lawyer can challenge any aspect of your case, your charges could be reduced or dismissed completely. Call The Law Place to find out more about how a criminal defense lawyer from our law firm can help you.
Call The Law Place for a Free Consultation
If you have been arrested for driving under the influence and you were driving a commercial vehicle, your livelihood is at stake, and you should contact a Florida CDL DUI lawyer right away.
With over 75 years of combined experience, the criminal defense lawyers at The Law Place have the skills and knowledge needed to build the strongest defense possible to fight your DUI charges. For more information, call us today for a free consultation at (941) 444-4444. Our phone lines are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.