Being arrested for driving under the influence can have a significant impact on a person’s life, especially if he or she has a commercial driving license. When a person relies on his or her right to get behind the wheel for a career, the consequences of a DUI in Pennsylvania can be more severe than extensive jail time and expensive fines.
Several occupations in Pennsylvania require workers to have a license in order to perform the tasks and duties of their jobs. For example, truck drivers, ambulance drivers and bus drivers all must have some sort of occupational license or commercial driver’s license.
Commercial drivers are prohibited from operating or being in physical control of a motor vehicle with alcohol, drugs or a combination of substances in his or her system, according to Pa. Cons. Stat. §1612. An arrest for doing so could mean having his or her driving privileges suspended or revoked.
In Pennsylvania, drivers are considered intoxicated if they have a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08 or higher. However, the legal limit for commercial drivers is much lower at 0.04. If the driver’s BAC is between 0.04 and 0.159 it could be considered a “high-rate DUI.” Normal drivers face a “high-rate DUI” between 0.1 and 0.16.
One instance in which commercial drivers are the same as regular licensed drivers is that both have given consent to a chemical test if stopped for a DUI, according to the state’s implied consent laws. This means if a CDL holder is stopped for a DUI, he or she is expected to consent to a blood, breath or urine test to determine his or her level of intoxication.
Refusing to submit to a chemical test in Pennsylvania could mean being disqualified from operating a commercial vehicle. This could have a significant impact on a person’s career, as well as his or her personal life. This could mean being fired or let go from your place of employment.
If a person who is a commercial driver is stopped for drunk driving when he or she is off duty, the normal BAC requirement of 0.08 would apply. However, there still could be professional penalties for the offense, including a one-year CDL suspension, in addition to other criminal penalties.
The consequences of a commercial driving under the influence offense vary based on a variety of factors, including the driver’s criminal history and his or her level of impairment. For instance, if a person is convicted for a first offense, the punishment likely would not be as harsh as a third offense.
A person who is arrested for a first commercial DUI with a blood alcohol concentration of between.04 and less than 1.6 could face up to six months in jail, a fine between $500 and $5,000 and a 12-month license suspension. However, if the person is arrested for a subsequent offense, the penalties could be more sever.
A second commercial DUI conviction could mean jail time up to six months, a fine between $750 and $5,000 and a 12-month license suspension. If the BAC was greater than 1.6, a person could face up to five years in jail, up to $10,000 in fines and an 18-month driver’s license suspension.
Although it may seem impossible, there are ways to have a CDL reinstated after having it suspended for the first time. A driver must do the following:
• Pass the CDL knowledge and driving tests
• Pass a separate knowledge test to earn a hazardous materials endorsement
• Pay the re-qualification fees
A second or subsequent commercial DUI could result in having the driver’s CDL disqualified for life. However, in some cases, a driver possibly could be eligible for reinstatement after a 10-year period under certain strict conditions.