Due to the nature of their vehicles and the potential for large-scale consequences when an accident occurs, commercial drivers have a significant responsibility in maintaining road safety.
In Georgia and other U.S. states, this translates into stricter standards for driving under the influence (DUI) for commercial driver’s license (CDL) holders. What are these standards, and what are the consequences for a CDL holder convicted of DUI?
Lower BAC limits
For most drivers, the legal blood alcohol content (BAC) limit is .08%. If a driver hits or exceeds this level in a roadside test or similar other testing following a traffic stop, an officer can charge the driver with DUI.
However, the legal limit for CDL holders is even lower, at .04%. It’s said that it takes about two alcoholic drinks to hit .04% BAC, and at that level, drivers’ reaction times are already slowed, even if they don’t feel intoxicated yet.
Increased penalties and consequences
Generally speaking, a CDL holder convicted of DUI will face the same penalties as convicted regular drivers. But in addition, CDL holders also face license disqualification for the offense:
- First DUI offense penalties: A conviction leads to up to $1,000 in fines and up to 12 months of imprisonment. A court may also order the driver to perform community service and attend a DUI Alcohol or Drug Use Risk Reduction Program. Officials will disqualify the CDL holder from operating a commercial vehicle for one year.
- Second DUI offense (within 10 years) penalties: A conviction leads to up to $1,000 in fines and 12 months of imprisonment. The court may also order the diver to perform at least 30 days of community service and complete a substance risk reduction program. Officials will also disqualify the driver’s CDL for life.
Commercial drivers must recognize the higher expectations placed upon them and the implications of a DUI on their livelihood. If you’re a CDL holder and face DUI charges, know that a conviction brings you one step closer to an unceremonious career end. Consider consulting with a legal professional, who may be able to protect your rights and driving privileges in court.