DUI with a CDL? Our Truck Driver Lawyers Can Help

Any DUI charge is scary. But if you have a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) and drive for a living, it can be terrifying. When you hire Emerald City Law Group, you won’t have to deal with your charges alone. Our CDL DUI lawyers have considerable experience helping truckers and other professional drivers avoid jail time and keep their jobs. We’ll build a strong defense around the facts and help secure the best possible outcome. Let us help you stay on the road.

From a DUI dismissal to helping you keep your CDL, contact Emerald City Law Group for the legal assistance you need.

Based in Seattle, We Assist People Across Washington and Offer Virtual Consultations. Initial Consults are Free, Confidential, and We’re Available 24/7 to Answer Your Questions.

Washington CDL DUI Offenses

Mishandling a CDL DUI case can result in significant hardships that are long-lasting. You may face time in jail, a license suspension, a CDL disqualification, being placed out of service, being placed in a non-driving position or demotion by your employer, ignition interlock requirements, a job loss, and more. Working with lawyers with a background in defending commercial vehicle operators is important. As experienced CDL DUI lawyers, Emerald City Law Group can help you navigate the Washington DUI process.

  • First-Time CDL DUI
  • Second Time CDL DUI
  • Third and Subsequent Time CDL DUI
  • Low BAC Level CDL DUI
  • Low THC Level CDL DUI
  • Drugged Driving
  • DUI with a CDL in a Personal Vehicle
  • Being Placed Out of Service
  • BAC Test Refusal
  • CDL Revocation
  • Administrative CDL Suspension

CDL DUIs in Washington: What You Need to Know

It is illegal to drive a commercial vehicle while intoxicated. However, the definition of “intoxicated” can be confusing. The legal limit for professional CDL drivers is much lower than for personal vehicle drivers. It’s important to understand CDL alcohol rules before you get behind the wheel.

CDL Legal Limits for Alcohol &  THC

When you have a CDL and are in your commercial vehicle, whether it is a semi-truck, passenger bus, or some other type of vehicle, then the legal limit for your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is .04%. This is a stricter standard than for regular motorists over 21. As a professional driver, your CDL BAC limit is lower, and it takes very little alcohol to open you up to the risk of an arrest and criminal charges.

The standard for tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) from marijuana is also lower. A CDL driver can be charged with a DUI if a blood test reveals any THC in your system.

CDL Holders Could Be Placed Out of Service

If you are pulled over , and a breath test shows you have a BAC of .03 or less, then you may not be charged with a DUI, but you will be placed out of service for 24 hours. While this is not a criminal charge, it can significantly affect your career. You will not be able to move your commercial vehicle, and you will have to notify your employer right away.

Truck Driver’s Charged with DUI

As a commercial driver, RCW 46.25.110 states that you cannot drive, operate, or be in physical control of a commercial vehicle while having alcohol or THC in your system. If you are found driving , or in control of your commercial vehicle with alcohol, marijuana, or any other drug in your system, there can be significant civil and criminal consequences.

Law enforcement shall issue an out-of-service order valid for 24 hours against a person who drives, operates, or is in physical control of a commercial motor vehicle while having alcohol or THC in his or her system or who refuses to take a test to determine his or her alcohol content or THC concentration as provided by RCW 46.25.120.

RCW 26.25.090 states you may be disqualified from driving a commercial motor vehicle for a period of not less than one year if the police find you have a .04 BAC when driving a commercial vehicle. You can also be charged with a DUI if any drug impairs you or you have any measurable amount of THC in your blood.

You can also be charged under the typical DUI and Physical Control statutes, RCW 46.61.502 or 46.61.504 if you’re a CDL driver who is caught driving or in physical control of a non-commercial, personal vehicle. Under these laws, you can be found guilty if you have a BAC of at least .08 or a THC concentration of 5.00 ng/mL or higher within two hours of driving or being in actual physical control of any vehicle.

If you are charged with a DUI while in a non-commercial, personal vehicle, the higher legal limit applies. However, the situation is not much better. The consequences of the DUI arrest and a potential conviction will still impact your CDL.

Implied Consent for CDL Holders

Commercial drivers are also regulated by a Washington implied consent law, RCW 46.25.120. When you drive your commercial vehicle in the state, you are deemed to give your implied consent to take a breath test.

If you refuse or the breath test results show a BAC of .04 or higher, you will face civil and criminal punishment. The most serious civil punishment is the loss of your commercial driving privileges. If this is your first BAC test refusal, you will lose your CDL for one year or three years if you transport hazardous materials. If it is your second refusal, your CDL will be revoked for life.

If the law enforcement officer suspects you have a drug in your system or you refuse to submit to a breath test, they may obtain a warrant for a blood sample. Refusing to submit to a blood test after the police have obtained a warrant can lead to significant consequences, in addition to the loss of your CDL.

Washington CDL DUI Penalties

If you are convicted of a DUI while driving a commercial vehicle in Seattle, the statutory penalties are like those imposed if you were in your personal vehicle. For a first-time DUI, you will be charged with a gross misdemeanor, which can lead to:

  • Up to 364 days in jail
  • Up to $5,000 fine
  • Mandatory minimum of 1-2 days of jail depending on the BAC result or if you refused which may be converted to 15-30 days of Electronic Home Monitoring (EHM).

For a second DUI, the mandatory minimum increases to 30-45 days in jail + 60-90 days of EHM depending on the BAC result or if you refused to take the breath test at the police station.   

You face harsher punishments for additional offenses or a BAC of .15 or higher, including longer minimum sentences, additional days of EHM, and higher fines.

Navigating the Washington CDL DUI Process

If you are above the DUI legal limit for CDL holders, you will be arrested and taken to jail. You will be booked, which includes photographs, fingerprints, and obtaining basic information about you. You may be released from jail on bail if you’re not seen as a danger to yourself or others.

After your arrest, you will attend an arraignment in a district court in Seattle, Redmond, Kent, or another local court. You will learn your formal charges and enter a plea of guilty, or not guilty.

After your arraignment, your attorney will begin investigating, obtain discovery from the prosecutor, and work to resolve your case in the best way possible. Your lawyer can also negotiate with the prosecutor to reduce your charges and penalties. The court may dismiss your case entirely if the prosecutor does not have enough evidence to prove you were drinking and driving a commercial motor vehicle.

Your lawyer may need to take your case to trial if a reasonable resolution cannot be reached through thorough investigation and negotiation. If your case proceeds to trial, a jury will review the evidence and decide whether you are guilty or not guilty. The judge will then impose a sentence if you are found guilty.  An Emerald City Law Group attorney can advise you on whether proceeding to trial is in your best interest.

Challenging an Administrative CDL Suspension

If your CDL was disqualified when you were arrested for a DUI in your commercial vehicle, you need to contact a Seattle truck driver DUI attorney right away. You only have 7 days from your date of arrest to request a hearing with the Washington Department of Licensing (DOL), to challenge the suspension.

It can be difficult to contest commercial driver’s license DUI suspension successfully.  It is possible, however, with an experience defense attorney. If you do not request a contested hearing within 7 days of your arrest, your personal license will be suspended and your CDL will be disqualified automatically. If your CDL is disqualified, you are required to inform your employer.  Often, an employer will terminate your employment due to the CDL disqualification.

Defending Against Washington CDL DUI Charges

Your attorney will need to build a strong defense against charges related to drunk driving with a CDL. They may develop defense strategies based on an illegal stop, the inadmissibility of evidence, or argue that you were not under the influence. The specific strategy they use will depend on the specific facts in your case.

Working with a skilled commercial vehicle lawyer in any CDL DUI case is important. While you may be offered a public defender, they won’t be able to give you the time and attention that a private lawyer can. CDL DUI cases have a lot on the line, so you should invest in a private attorney who can spend time diligently fighting your case.

Washington DUI Info & Resources for CDL Holders

Our CDL DUI attorneys will help you navigate your charges and stand up for your rights. We have answers to your questions. If you need additional information, contact Emerald City Law Group as soon as possible.

Can I Get a Commercial Driver’s License with a DUI?

You can get a commercial driver’s license in Washington if you have a DUI, but only after a certain period of disqualification. The disqualification period depends on the severity of the DUI conviction and whether you have any prior DUI convictions.

Does a DUI in My Personal Vehicle Affect my CDL in Washington?

A DUI conviction in a personal vehicle is treated the same as a DUI in a commercial vehicle for CDL holders. This means your CDL will be subject to the same disqualification periods regardless of the type of vehicle you were driving at the time of the offense.

Can I Refuse a Breathalyzer if I’m a CDL Holder Stopped for DUI in WA?

CDL holders can refuse a breathalyzer or blood test, but refusal will result in an automatic CDL disqualification for at least one year, and they may still face DUI charges based on other evidence of impairment.

Can My CDL Be Reinstated After a DUI in Washington?

To reinstate a CDL after a DUI, you must complete the disqualification period, provide proof of financial responsibility, pay reinstatement fees, and may be required to pass knowledge and skills tests again. Even after a DUI is off your record and your CDL is reinstated, employers may be reluctant to hire someone with a DUI conviction due to insurance and liability concerns, and some may have policies that disqualify applicants with a DUI conviction.

How Will A DUI Impact My CDL Insurance Rates?

A DUI conviction will likely result in significantly higher insurance premiums for CDL holders, as insurance companies view DUI convictions as an indication of increased risk. These increased rates can last for several years beyond the reinstatement of the CDL.

Don’t Wait. Call Our CDL DUI Defense Lawyers

A CDL DUI lawyer with Emerald City Law Group can help you throughout the DUI court process. You should call us immediately so we can start investigating your case. However, if you cannot call us, you can have a friend or family member <a “http://href=”tel:206-973-0407”>call Emerald City Law Group on your behalf.

Emerald City Law Group Will:

  • Help you understand Washington CDL DUI laws and potential penalties.
  • Investigate every aspect of your case, including the prosecutor’s key evidence.
  • Work to prove breath tests or blood tests were inaccurate.
  • Help you keep your CDL and job.
  • Communicate with you throughout the CDL DUI case process.
  • Help you get the best outcome possible in your case.

DUI Attorneys Serving Washington – Free Consults 24/7

Emerald City Law Group provides Seattle and the greater Washington area with high-caliber legal representation for those facing CDL DUI-related accusations.

Seattle – Local Areas Served

  • King County – Bellevue, Auburn, Kent, Renton, Federal Way, Kirkland, Redmond, Bothell, Carnation, Duvall, Issaquah, Maple Valley, Mercer Island, Sammamish, Seattle, & Woodinville
  • Snohomish County – Everett, Lynnwood, and Marysville.
  • Pierce County – Tacoma, Puyallup, Gig Harbor, and Lakewood

Greater Washington

  • Grays Harbor
  • Kittitas County
  • Spokane County
  • Cowlitz County
  • Douglas County
  • Mason County
  • Skagit County
  • Thurston County
  • Island County
  • Mason County
  • Grays County
  • Kitsap County
  • Lewis County
  • Whatcom County
  • Whitman County
  • San Juan County