There are millions of commercial vehicles on the roads in the United States. From trucks to buses, these vehicles tend to be larger and heavier than passenger cars. A person who operates a commercial vehicle is required to get a commercial driver's license. This license can affect the type of penalties that a driver will face if he or she is arrested or convicted of driving under the influence (DUI) of drugs or alcohol.
It is important to be aware that the commercial DUI penalties can apply even if a driver is convicted of a DUI when that driver is operating a noncommercial vehicle.
A commercial vehicle is defined as, "a motor vehicle designed or used to transport passengers or property.". Commercial vehicles can be:
- Vehicles that have "a gross vehicle weight rating of 26,001 or more pounds or such lesser rating as determined by federal regulation."
- Vehicles that are "designed to transport 16 or more passengers, including the driver."
- Vehicles that transport "hazardous materials as designated under 49 U.S.C. Section 5103 and is required to be placarded in accordance with the Motor Carrier Safety Rules prescribed by the United States Department of Transportation, Title 49 C.F.R. Part 172, subpart F or is transporting any quantity of a material listed as a select agent or toxin in Title 42 C.F.R. Part 73." Id.
Commercial Drivers And DUI
The blood alcohol level that is permissible for a commercial vehicle driver is lower than the level allowed for a regular motor vehicle driver. In Idaho, "[a] person shall not drive or be in actual physical control of any moving commercial motor vehicle while there is 0.04 percent or more by weight of alcohol in such person's blood, breath, or urine." If the commercial license holder is arrested while driving a noncommercial vehicle, the legal limit is .08, as it is with other non-commercial vehicle drivers of legal drinking age.
A commercial driver can face additional penalties than a normal driver if he or she is convicted of driving under the influence. These can include both administrative and criminal consequences. In addition, a DUI can affect a commercial driver's ability to work for a period of time, as license suspension is often one of the penalty's for a DUI conviction.
License Suspension For DUI
Under Idaho law, a driver is disqualified from driving a commercial vehicle for one year if a driver is convicted of a DUI. A second DUI conviction can result in a driver being "disqualified from driving a commercial motor vehicle for life."
Criminal Penalties For Commercial DUI
In addition to license suspension, a driver convicted of driving under the influence may also face a number of criminal penalties.
The first DUI is usually a misdemeanor charge. A first DUI conviction can lead to:
- Fines: The fine could be between $300-$1000
- Jail Time: A person convicted of DUI could face a minimum of 24 hours all the way up to 12 months in prison. A common punishment is between 1-10 days behind bars.
- Community Service: A total of 40 hours of community service could be required. If the offender was under the age of 21 and had a BAC under .08 then he or she could be required to complete 20 hours of community service.
- Participation in, and completion of, a DUI Alcohol or Drug Risk Reduction Program: This must be done 120 days after a conviction or 90 days after getting out of jail.
- A clinical evaluation and treatment, if recommended
- Probation: The probation could last up to 12 months.
The penalties for DUI increase with each subsequent conviction. A second DUI conviction is still considered a misdemeanor but the penalties are more severe. A third conviction is a high or aggravated misdemeanor and a fourth DUI conviction is a felony.