Because of the nature of the vehicles being operated by a person with a CDL, a DUI is more serious than if it had been received while driving a non-commercial vehicle. As a result, the penalties for a DUI are more severe, and the proof standard is lower, when you are convicted of driving a commercial vehicle under the influence.
Proof Standard is Lower to Convict
Ordinarily, if you give a breath sample, and the breathalyzer reading is below 0.08%, then the state would have a tougher time of proving its case. In fact, the prosecutor would be more likely to downgrade the charge to careless or reckless driving.
But if you were driving a commercial vehicle, the state only needs a breathalyzer reading of 0.04% as evidence that you were under the influence of alcohol. So, commercial vehicle - 0.04% or higher; family SUV - 0.08% or higher.
The Punishments Are More Severe
The punishment for operating a commercial vehicle under the influence is also more severe. For a first offense, your CDL would be suspended for one to three years. If the vehicle is transporting hazardous materials, or is placarded for them, the judge must suspend it for three years.
For a second offense, it is a lifetime suspension of the CDL. However, the law allows the Chief Administrator of the Motor Vehicle Commission to issue rules and regulations establishing guidelines and conditions under which it could be reduced to a period of not less than ten (10) years, so you should consult with an attorney on this.
The Punishments Stack!
These punishments listed above are also in addition to those of a regular DUI! That's right, if you are pulled over in a commercial vehicle and test at a blood alcohol level of 0.08% or over, you can be convicted of two DUIs with fines, penalties, and consecutive suspension periods, one for your CDL and one for your regular driver's license.
So What Do I Do?
If you have a CDL and are pulled over for drunk driving in southern New Jersey, please feel free to give my office a call at 856-432-4113 or contact me through this site, to schedule a free consultation in my Woodbury office.
If you are looking for more information on New Jersey's drunk driving law, then download my free book, How Much Trouble Am I In? A Guide to New Jersey Drunk Driving Law.