The standards for CDL drivers are tough. If you have a CDL, a DUI charge can result in CDL disqualification. However, there are also many ways to fight back. To learn more about your options and how to avoid losing your commercial license, contact a Seattle truck driver DUI attorney with Emerald City Law Group at 206-973-0407 for a free initial consultation.
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 percent. This is a much stricter standard than for regular motorists over the age of 21. Most drivers can have a BAC up to .07 percent and still potentially avoid DUI charges. As a professional driver, your BAC limit is half that, which means 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. While regular motorists over 21 can have a THC concentration up to 5.0 before being charged with a DUI, you can be charged with a DUI if a blood test reveals any THC in your system.
Being Placed Out of Service
If you are pulled over and a breath test shows you have a BAC of .03 percent or less, then you will 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 have significant consequences on your career. You will not be able to move your commercial vehicle, and you will have to notify your employer right away.
When You Can be Charged With a CDL DUI
As a commercial driver, the Revised Code of Washington (RCW) 46.25.110 states 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 some other way being in control of your commercial vehicle with alcohol, marijuana, or any other drug in your system, there can be significant civil and criminal consequences.
RCW 26.25.090 states you may be charged and convicted of a DUI if the police find you have a .04 percent BAC when driving a commercial vehicle. You can also be charged with a DUI if you are impaired by any drug or have any measurable amount of THC in your blood.
You can also be charged under the typical DUI statutes, RCW 46.61.502 or RCS 46.61.504. Under these laws, you can be found guilty of a DUI if you have a BAC of at least .08 percent or a THC concentration of 5.00 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 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 consent to take a breath test in relation to a lawful DUI arrest. If you refuse, or the breath test results show a BAC of .04 percent or higher, you will face both civil and criminal punishments. The most serious civil punishment is the loss of your commercial driving privileges. If this your first BAC test refusal, you will lose your CDL for one year, or for three years if you were transporting 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. You should speak with a Seattle truck driver DUI attorney immediately to determine your best course of action.
Challenging an Administrative CDL Suspension
If your CDL was suspended 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 20 days to request a hearing with the Washington Department of Licensing (DOL) where you can challenge the suspension. It can be difficult to successfully appeal a license suspension; however, it is possible. If you do nothing, your driving privileges will soon be suspended and you will be unable to work.
Statutory Penalties for a Washington CDL DUI
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 charge with a BAC of .15 percent or less, you will be charged with a gross misdemeanor, which can lead to:
- Up to 364 days in jail
- 15 days of electronic home monitoring
- Up to $5,200 fine
For a second DUI offense with a BAC of .15 percent or less, you typically face 30 days in jail, 60 days of EHM, and thousands of dollars in fines. For additional offenses or a BAC of .15 percent or higher, you face even harsher punishments, including longer minimum sentences, additional days under EHM, and higher fines.
Talk to a Seattle Truck Driver DUI Attorney Today
Additionally, you will lose your CDL for a period of time after a Washington DUI conviction. The suspension that may have taken place for a refusal or BAC over the legal limit was not a criminal punishment – it was a civil consequence. Upon conviction, you will face an additional license suspension as a criminal penalty. If you avoided the administrative suspension after your arrest, you will not be able to avoid the criminal suspension upon pleading or being found guilty.
For the right defense against your DUI charge, call one of our Seattle DUI lawyers located in King County at 206-973-0407. We can discuss your specific case in a free initial consultation. For legal help with another criminal defense charge or personal injury claim, call one of our Seattle criminal defense attorneys or personal injury lawyers today.
How a Seattle DUI Lawyer Can Help
A lot of question come up if you are charged with a DUI in Washington State.
At Emerald City Law Group, we are here to answer them and advise you on what to expect after a DUI. Once we are on your case, we will conduct a thorough investigation to get all the facts, obtain the evidence that may benefit or hurt your case, and will determine the strongest possible defenses for your situation.
Depending on the situation, we can fight for the charges to be dropped or reduced, pursue a plea agreement, or prepare for trial. We will use all our resources to avoid a conviction entirely or minimize the penalties and collateral consequences.
If you have been charged with a DUI in or around King County, Washington, let us explain how we can help. Contact us online or call 206-973-0407 to schedule a consultation.