CDL drivers are held to a much higher standard than most Class D drivers. Commercial drivers are individuals who drive large trucks for a living, which requires them to have a commercial driver's license and keep that license in good standing. Most commercial drivers are individuals who haul goods, chemicals or hazardous materials, and livestock throughout Illinois, and throughout the entirety of the United States. The government keeps a close eye on commercial drivers to ensure they are safely following local and federal driving laws because they are driving such large vehicles and carrying both valuable and potentially dangerous cargo. There are a variety of outcomes if a commercial driver receives a DUI.
BAC Limits for CDL Drivers
Drivers in Illinois are prohibited from operating a vehicle if their BAC, or Blood Alcohol Content, reaches 0.08 percent or higher. This percent is considered the legal limit, and drivers who are found to be driving with a blood alcohol level at or above 0.08% are then considered to be driving under the influence and are both eligible and incredibly likely to be charged with a drunk driving, impaired driving, or driving under the influence.
On the other hand, commercial drivers face a lower legal limit when driving in Illinois and more steep criminal penalties. While regular Class D drivers face the risk of DUI when operating at or above a BAC of 0.08%, commercial driver's license holders are considered inebriated and driving under the influence if their BAC is at or above 0.04%. This difference in percentage is nothing to scoff at. Chemical testing equipment such as breathalyzers can be incredibly prone to error and can trigger a false positive. Breathalyzer machines, commonly used when drunk driving is suspected, frequently round up measurements, which often puts commercial driving privileges at risk, and can result in license suspension.
Non-Commercial drivers who do not have a commercial license have the right to refuse a blood alcohol test at any time for any reason. However, any commercial driver with a commercial motor vehicle license who refuses a test, or tests at or above 0.04%, whether driving a personal or commercial vehicle, will be disqualified from driving a commercial vehicle for a minimum of twelve months.
Will You Lose Your CDL for a DUI?
A commercial driver convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol, regardless of blood alcohol content, cannot drive any commercial vehicle for a minimum period of one year (twelve months) and will face a one-year CDL license suspension. A CDL driver that was transporting hazardous materials when stopped for a DUI and convicted will not be able to drive a commercial vehicle for no less than three years and faces a potential three-year license suspension period.
If a CDL driver is convicted of multiple DUI charges, they immediately become eligible for commercial license revocation, and a lifetime disqualification from getting their license back. Luckily, some truck drivers may be eligible to complete an alcohol awareness program and have their license reinstated after a lengthy license suspension of ten years.
Does a DUI Affect Your CDL if You Aren't Working?
The average citizen and regular drivers are able to receive a DUI when operating ordinary vehicles and have minimal repercussions regarding their job, regardless of their automatic license suspension. However, a professional driver is not given the same leniency and is issued a statutory summary suspension upon receiving a DUI. Even if the driver was not working at the time of arrest, or driving their personal vehicle, the commercial driver could face CDL disqualification and automatic license suspension. CDL drivers cannot receive a hardship license when charged with a DUI.
Related Content: What is the court process for a DUI in Illinois?
Can You Still Get a CDL With a DUI on Your Record?
In Illinois, a DUI charge on a driver's criminal record does not automatically disqualify regular license holders from obtaining their CDL license. There are multiple legal procedures in Illinois when a driver has drunk driving charges or intoxicated driving charges. These procedures may include court supervision, charge reduction, dismissal of charges/not guilty verdict, or conditional discharge/conviction. These outcomes can determine whether or not prospective commercial truck drivers can pursue and obtain their CDL.
Still, the charge should not disqualify prospective commercial truck drivers or school bus drivers from obtaining their CDL. In Illinois, there are consequences to a regular driver's license when charged with a DUI. Drivers charged with a first offense DUI will be offered chemical tests, breath tests, and field sobriety testing. Refusal of chemical testing can determine whether or not a pre-CDL DUI will be used against drivers looking to obtain their CDL.
There are other things one should consider before attempting to obtain a CDL with a DUI on their record. Some of these considerations should be employment prospects, as driving companies must be able to provide insurance to drivers. Drivers with DUIs on their record are considered high risk, and cost more to provide insurance. In Illinois, basic eligibility requirements for prospective CDL drivers include being 18 years or older to operate exclusively in Illinois, 21 or older to operate in and out of Illinois, and possessing a valid standard license.
If a prospective CDL driver has been charged with a DUI, their supervision must be resolved entirely before applying. CDL drivers have stricter license restrictions, so individuals pursuing their licensing should consider any prior charges they may have before taking classes and paying fees.
If you have been charged with a DUI or DWI while in possession of a CDL, your first step in protecting your job and licensure is to contact a criminal defense lawyer or DUI-Defense lawyer. Experienced lawyers will be your first line of defense in ensuring the potential for job security. Contact us today at DUI Lawyers 24/7 today for a free consultation.