Under Florida law, driving under the influence of alcohol or illegal substances is prohibited. If you or any of your loved ones are commercial drivers facing a DUI conviction, it is vital you seek the help of a DUI defense attorney as soon as possible.
If you’re facing commercial DUI charges, they come with life-changing consequences. A commercial driver license is crucial to some people’s jobs, and a DUI arrest means you could have your license suspended or revoked entirely if you are charged. Penalties involved in DUI charges usually involve hefty fines, the participation in substance abuse classes, CDL disqualifications, and jail time.
Here at The Law Place, we operate across the entire state of Florida, including Palm Beach County. Once you get in touch with us, you will be paired with an experienced attorney, one who will be able to guide you through this legal process with care. Our team has over 75 years of combined experience in dealing with cases similar to yours.
Call us today for your free consultation at (941)-444-4444 to begin your legal process.
The Definition of a DUI Offense
No matter what vehicle you are using, a DUI in legal terms refers to driving under the influence. As mentioned before, DUI cases come with severe penalties and, in some serious cases, the possibility of prison. At the time of the arrest, a law enforcement officer will charge a driver with a DUI if the below circumstances apply:
- The driver’s blood alcohol concentration was .08% for a personal vehicle or 0.04% for a commercial driver or greater than the legal limit. Minor drivers can be charged if they have a level of .02% or greater.
- The driver is visibly impaired by chemical substances.
What Happens If You Get a DUI with a CDL?
For a vehicle to be classified as a commercial motor vehicle, it needs to meet the following criteria:
- The commercial vehicle has a declared maximum weight for purposes of registration when loaded of more than 26,000 pounds.
- The commercial motor vehicle has a “gross vehicle weight rating” of more than 26,000 pounds.
- The vehicle is designed to carry more than 14 passengers, excluding the commercial driver.
- It must be placarded in order to transport hazardous materials.
The above information is also relevant for shuttle buses, vans, 18-wheelers, dump trucks, personal vehicles, cement trucks, or other large vehicles.
As mentioned previously, DUI testing happens when a driver is suspected of having a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of over 0.08%. However, this is different for a commercial DUI case. If you have a commercial driver’s license CDL, a DUI arrest can occur when your BAC is at 0.04% or more. This takes into account your sex, body size, and overall metabolism.
As well as this, in Florida, it is illegal for CDL holders to be driving a commercial vehicle with any alcohol in their system when in actual physical control of the vehicle. If found to have alcohol in your system, this is punishable by a fine that is up to $500.
How Long Is a CDL Holder Suspended After DUI Charge?
CDL holders run the risk of losing their license if convicted of a DUI charge. This impacts many of those who need their commercial driver’s license for their work. Even if you have a fairly lenient employer, a driver can still face an administrative suspension of up to 18 months and a CDL disqualification of up to a year.
According to Florida Statutes, commercial drivers face similar DUI penalties to that of a motor vehicle DUI charge. You can expect the following penalties for a first-time DUI charge:
- Fines from $500 to $1,000
- Imprisonment of up to six months.
- 50 hours of community service.
- 1 year probation.
- Vehicle impounded for 10 days.
- Required attendance for substance abuse education or treatment programs.
Second CDL DUI Conviction
If you get a second or subsequent DUI charge, you will face much more severe consequences. The time between each of the offenses will also impact the severity of the penalties you receive. It is likely that the Palm Harbor court will order the arrested commercial motor vehicle driver to serve a minimum 10 days jail sentence.
Listed below are some of the common penalties given to a second-time commercial drivers offenders:
- A $2,000 fine.
- Nine months jail time.
- One year of probation.
- 30 days of vehicle impoundment.
- Installation of an ignition interlock device for six months.
- Commercial driver’s license suspension between 180 days and one year.
Can You Get a CDL with a DUI in Florida?
If you wish to drive a commercial vehicle, you need a CDL. To obtain one, there are several requirements that must be met first. This is because there are various types of endorsements that are required for cargo and the shipping of hazardous materials. To get a CDL, a CDL driver must first apply for a CLP, or a commercial learner’s permit. You must pass a written test, and background check, and operate a commercial motor vehicle under the supervision of a CDL holder.
If any hopeful CDL drivers have had a criminal DUI case with a criminal charge in the last few years, this will greatly impact your chances in driving a commercial vehicle. When applying, the Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHMSMV) will be able to see the details of any past DUI charges. They might ask you to elaborate on the circumstances around the charge before deciding if you meet the requirements for a commercial driver’s license.
Contact The Law Place Palm Harbor Today
At The Law Place, we understand that facing a DUI trial is a stressful and emotional time for all involved. As a commercial driver, we understand the importance that being a CDL driver means for your everyday life, to use for work in order to support your loved ones. If you are facing a CDL DUI, it is important that you seek assistance from an experienced legal counsel as soon as possible so not to lose your commercial vehicle license.
We have a team of commercial vehicles DUI attorneys who have dealt with many cases similar to yours. They are experienced in Florida law and the trucking industry and will be able to help you act quickly and build a strong defense for you case. If you are facing driving under the influence charges, it is important that you act sooner rather than later to avoid a CDL DUI conviction.
To speak to one of our lawyers today and book a free case review, call us now at (941)-444-4444 to start your process and protect your commercial vehicle license.