Please click on the links below to go directly to your topic of interest:
- California Law for DUI with commercial driver’s license
- Penalties for Commercial DUI in California
- How To Beat A Commercial Vehicle DUI (CDL) Case?
- Can you still get a CDL license after two DUI convictions in California?
The DMV can suspend a commercial driver’s license. A commercial driver’s license suspension can happen if you had a blood alcohol concentration of .04% or higher while driving a commercial vehicle (Cal VC 23152(d)). In addition to a DMV commercial driver’s license suspension, a driver can be prosecuted for a DUI in criminal court. If that driver drove a non-commercial vehicle while being DUI, he will also suffer a commercial driver’s license suspension if his blood-alcohol level was .08 percent or more. The penalty for a commercial driver is a lot more severe not only because the permissible alcohol levels are half the “usual” legal limits but also because the commercial driver’s license suspensions are much longer without the possibility of a restricted license (Cal VC 13352.4). A driver with a commercial driver’s license will suffer a commercial driver’s license suspension for one year after a first DUI offense (Cal VC 15300) and his entire life after a second DUI offense (Cal VC 15302).
It appears that the DMV is not counting convictions that occurred prior to the 2005 amendment to the statute towards the lifetime bar. Thus, a driver who got 1 conviction prior to September 20, 2005, and another conviction after September 20, 2005, will not be barred for life but only for 1 year.
Anecdotally, some clients have reported to Los Angeles DUI Attorney that the DMV suspended their license for life based on a DUI that took place before 2005. If this happened to you, call Los Angeles DUI Attorney right away (you may have only 15 to 30 days to do so) to help you get a reversal of the DMV order. The language that helps fight lifetime revocation that is based on DUIs before September 20, 2005, is found in Assembly BIll No. 3049 (AB3049). Here is a cite from Lexis:
SECTION 1. (a) In conformance with the amendments to Parts 350, 383, 384, and 390 of Title 49 of the Code of Federal Regulations, as authorized by the Motor Carrier Safety Improvement Act of 1999 (P.L. 106-159), the Legislature finds and declares the following:
(1) Holders of commercial driver’s licenses are professional drivers. They operate large, heavy motor vehicles, and often transport hazardous materials or vulnerable passengers. Given their status as professionals, drivers should be held to higher standards of conduct when operating a motor vehicle of any class.
(2) A change in Parts 350, 383, 384, and 390 of Title 49 of the Code of Federal Regulations, that may be authorized by an amendment to the Motor Carrier Safety Improvement Act of 1999 (P.L. 106-159), that will impact the disqualification criteria for any holder of a commercial driver’s licenseholder, shall be incorporated into California law as soon as practicable following the adoption of that federal regulation.
(b) Any cause for disqualification of the commercial driving privilege enacted under the authority of the Motor Carrier Safety Improvement Act of 1999 (P.L. 106-159), may only be applied to violations that occur on or after September 20, 2005.
If you have a commercial driver’s license suspension, you can get a non-commercial driver’s license and qualify for restricted driving. Los Angeles DUI Attorney will help you obtain a restricted license or fight your commercial driver’s license suspension in court and in the DMV.
If you were arrested with a BAC of 0.04% or higher while operating a commercial vehicle can expect the following:
|First DUI with CDL||Second DUI with CDL|
|JAIL TIME||No jail time to 6 month||4 days to 364 days|
|FINES||$390 to $1,000||$390 to $1,000|
|ALCOHOL EDUCATION PROGRAM||3 month to 9 month||18 month|
|COMMERCIAL DRIVERS LICENSE SUSPENSION OR REVOCATION||1 year||lifetime revocation|
The consequences for such “non-commercial” DUI are very severe for any commercial driver’s license. When a commercial driver gets a DUI, he will lose his commercial driver’s license. With a commercial DUI, a non-commercial driver’s license will be downgraded to “Class “C”.
A first-time commercial DUI offender will lose his commercial driver’s license for 1 year.
But even after waiting one year and getting a commercial driver’s license back, the commercial driver will still continue to have major problems trying to work as a commercial driver. For example, a driver who has a commercial driver’s license and maintains Federal Department of Transportation qualifications (DOT), has a federal CSA score. CSA score is a rating maintained by Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. CSA stands for “compliance, safety, accountability” and a higher score will create serious problems for the driver and might cause loss of employment.
Moreover, a commercial driver has to be accepted by the liability insurance company and many insurance companies will not accept a driver for at least 5 years after a drunk driving conviction. Even if some insurance companies will be willing to accept a commercial driver convicted of a DUI, the insurance company will require a much higher premium, and the driver (or his employer) might not be able to afford the insurance. Thus, even a first-time DUI will have very bad consequences for a commercial DUI driver.
There are no “Commercial driver’s license suspension” defenses specific to a “commercial” driver. All defenses used to defend a regular DUI can be successfully used to defend a “commercial” driver’s license. There are at least 15 different defenses that can be used to defend a DUI. Examples include violation of Title 17 of the California Code of Regulation, various medical conditions including GERD and diabetes, illegal stop, illegal arrest, falsely high blood alcohol readings, and a rising BAC defense.
One clever way to reverse a loss of commercial driver’s license is to settle his case for a “Helmandollar plea”, which allows a reversal of the DMV findings with a dismissal of CVC 23152(a), a plea to a wet reckless pursuant to California Vehicle Code 23103 pursuant to California Vehicle Code 23103.5, and a stipulated finding of acquittal under California Vehicle Code 23152(b).
A commercial driver who has 2 drunk driving convictions will have to suffer a lifetime bar from operating a commercial vehicle. This lifetime revocation of the commercial driver’s license does not depend on whether the driver was driving a commercial vehicle at the time of the DUI. Even if the commercial DUI was received when the driver was driving a regular vehicle, he will suffer a lifetime loss of his commercial driver’s license.
California Vehicle Code section 15302 explains:
15302. A driver shall not operate a commercial motor vehicle for the rest of his or her life if convicted of more than one violation of any of the following: (a) Subdivision (a), (b), or (c) of Section 23152 while operating a motor vehicle. (b) Subdivision (d) of Section 23152. (c) Subdivision (a) or (b) of Section 23153 while operating a motor vehicle. (d) Subdivision (d) of Section 23153. (e) Leaving the scene of an accident involving a motor vehicle operated by the driver. (f) Using a motor vehicle to commit a felony, other than a felony described in Section 15304. (g) Driving a commercial motor vehicle when the driver’s commercial driver’s license is revoked, suspended, or canceled based on the driver’s operation of a commercial motor vehicle or when the driver is disqualified from operating a commercial motor vehicle based on the driver’s operation of a commercial motor vehicle. (h) Causing a fatality involving conduct defined pursuant to Section 191.5 of the Penal Code or in subdivision (c) of Section 192 of the Penal Code. (i) While operating a motor vehicle, refuses to submit to, or fails to complete, a chemical test or tests in violation of Section 23612. (j) A violation of Section 2800.1, 2800.2, or 2800.3 that involves a commercial motor vehicle. (k) Any combination of the above violations or a violation listed in paragraph (2) of subdivision (a) of Section 13350 or Section 13352 or 13357 that occurred while transporting a hazardous material.
In other words, a commercial driver who has violated any of these laws two times will face lifetime commercial driver’s license revocation.
But you do not need to be convicted in court to have a lifetime bar! An APS finding will be equivalent to a conviction according to the 2011 decision of the court of Appeals in Ziehlke v. Valverde. This means that after 2011 any 2 APS findings will cause a lifetime bar for a commercial driver license holder.
If you are a commercial driver, it is very important to take any vehicle code violations very seriously. Even if you are cited for an infraction offense, you need the help of a Los Angeles traffic lawyer to fight your case. If you are cited for any DUI, you must call Los Angeles DUI lawyer as soon as you can so that we can fight your case and make sure you put up a great fight and did all you can to win your case.
(818) 921 7744 CALL anytime to talk directly to Los Angeles DUI Lawyer.