The licensing consequences of DUI are particularly egregious for those who possess a commercial license and are stopped while driving a commercial vehicle. A commercial driver faces the possibility of being disqualified from driving a commercial vehicle both administratively by the Department of Licensing AND as the result of a criminal conviction of DUI.
When a law enforcement official determines that a commercial driver has ANY alcohol in his system while driving, the driver will immediately be issued an out of service order valid for twenty four hours which means the driver may not operate any commercial vehicle for a twenty four hour period. The officer may then require the driver to submit to a test of his breath to determine the alcohol content. If the driver has an alcohol concentration of .04 or more, or if the driver refuses to submit to a breath test, the officer will submit a sworn report indicating such to the DOL within 72 hours of the incident. Upon receipt of the sworn report by the DOL, the administrative process has begun and the DOL will automatically disqualify the driver from driving a commercial vehicle UNLESS the driver requests a hearing within 20 days of the incident.
If no hearing is requested or if it is established at the hearing that the driver had an alcohol concentration of .04 or more, or refused the breath test, the driver will be disqualified from driving a commercial vehicle. For a first violation, the driver will be disqualified for a period of not less than one year. For a second or subsequent violation, the driver will be disqualified for life.
Even if the commercial driver is successful at the Department of Licensing hearing and defeats the administrative disqualification, however, he or she still faces disqualification if convicted of DUI in the criminal courts. If the prosecutor’s office chooses to pursue criminal charges and obtains a conviction by establishing beyond a reasonable doubt that the commercial driver was under the influence of alcohol at the time of driving and/or had an alcohol concentration of .04 or more, the court will send notice of the conviction to the DOL and the driver will be disqualified from driving a commercial vehicle for a period of one year upon his first conviction and for life upon any subsequent convictions.
Upon disqualification, whether through the administrative or criminal process, the commercial driver must notify his employer of the suspension by the end of the following business day. The employer is then prohibited from permitting the driver to operate a commercial vehicle during the disqualification period. Upon expiration of any disqualification of a year or more, the driver may again apply for his commercial license but must also requalify for the license before it is reissued.
Because the licensing consequences for a commercial driver suspected of DUI are quite complex and very severe, it is advisable to consult a qualified DUI defense attorney to fully protect your interests.