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 with a CDL
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 DUI 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.
And That's Just What the Judge Can Do to You!
The consequences of this charge go way beyond your sentence in court. You will:
- Lose your job
- Lose potential future employment in your field during the suspension
- Have your auto insurance premiums skyrocket
- Be saddled with a huge debt that cannot be discharged in bankruptcy!
Don't Try to Handle This Yourself!
There may be defenses to your case that an attorney could raise that could allow you to:
- Keep your job
- Provide for yourself and your family
- Avoid a crushing debt that you can't get rid of
So Don't Give Up the Fight!
Most people think that there is nothing they can do about their DUI charge; they just give up and plead guilty. Don't surrender; you may have defenses! If you want to know what they are, click here! Then scroll down and see what to do next!
What Should I Do?
Considering what you face, if you have been charged with drunk driving, you need to consult with a lawyer. If you received the ticket in southern New Jersey, want to do everything you can to avoid conviction, and are ready to act, then call me immediately 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.
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