Driving under the influence (DUI) of substances like alcohol is generally prohibited across the United States. The ban is due to the association of DUI with many road accidents.
The risk of property damage, injury, and death in motor vehicle accidents is greatest for commercial vehicles like semi-trucks and 18-wheelers. Thus, DUI regulations are stricter for commercial drivers.
A commercial DUI charge is given if:
- You drive a commercial vehicle, and
- You register a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) exceeding .04, or
- You decline to submit a blood or breath sample requested by a law enforcement agent
DUI Laws for Heavy Commercial Vehicles
DUI laws are similar across most states. The legal BAC limit for drivers of personal vehicles is .08.
At .04, commercial drivers have a relatively lower BAC limit, revealing the much harsher restrictions on commercial vehicles.
Nonetheless, DUI is taken as a misdemeanor for most first-time offenders. However, the crime is considered a felony in the presence of aggravating factors or if the person has a history of DUI charges.
DUIs can result in diverse penalties. These consequences are mainly based on the type of driver rather than the vehicle. For example, a commercial driver driving a personal vehicle faces similar penalties to all other commercial drivers.
Consequences of DUIs for Semi-Truck Drivers
A first-time offender can be jailed for 1-6 months, depending on the state. Prior DUI charges and aggravating factors—such as a high BAC—may attract longer terms.
An offender may also be required to pay fines. These payments are separate from any additional expenses, such as license reinstatement fees.
Drivers convicted of DUI may also have points added to their driving record. Too many points increase insurance charges and can result in license suspension if they exceed a specific limit.
Legislative authorities may also order a convicted offender to probation. The offender could be obligated to meet a probation officer regularly and must stay within a specific geographical area.
Furthermore, commercial drivers risk losing driving privileges for six months after a first offense. The suspension may last a year if they refuse to issue blood or breath samples. A second refusal may cause a permanent loss of commercial driving privileges.
Besides the fines and suspensions, offenders may be terminated by their employers. Some trucking companies also avoid hiring individuals with past DUI convictions.
How a Legal Professional Could Help
Commercial drivers facing DUI charges risk losing their freedom and income source. Future and career prospects may also be compromised.
Due to these high stakes, you should contact a DUI lawyer as soon as possible if you are accused of a commercial DUI. An legal professional could help fight the charges placed against you.
A DUI lawyer will structure arguments to help you retain your commercial driving license. The possible defenses are dependent on the unique circumstances of each case. A attorney could identify the distinctive strengths of your case. If used well, these strengths could result in positive case outcomes.
Fight Back Against DUI Charges with Guidance from a Seasoned Attorney
A commercial DUI is a serious offense in most states. Drivers stand to receive jail time, fines, suspended driving licenses, and job losses if convicted.
The possible punishments mean that a convicted offender may be unable to pay their bills or provide for their family. The reputation damage may also be insurmountable.
You need to act quickly after being accused of a commercial DUI. Immediately seek the services of a DUI attorney to avoid severe consequences.