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Drinking on the Job: How a DUI Can Impact a Commercial Driver

 Posted on June 10, 2021 in DUI

Tucson CDL DUI Defense Law FirmWhen it comes to driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, Arizona law holds truck drivers and other Commercial Driver’s License holders to a higher standard than regular drivers —even when they are off-duty.

When CDL drivers are behind the wheel of their commercial vehicles they can be arrested and charged with a DUI if they have a Blood Alcohol Concentration of .04 percent or higher, which is half the regular legal alcohol limit.

If the CDL driver is behind the wheel of a non-commercial vehicle, such as their personal car, then the regular .08 legal alcohol limit applies. However, a DUI charge can put a commercial driver’s employment at serious risk. Regular drivers facing a DUI can lose their license for 90 days (if they consent to a blood test), while commercial drivers can lose their license for up to a year. Additionally, if your regular driver’s license is suspended, then your commercial driver’s license is also suspended until the agency that revoked it restores it. This can cause CDL holders to lose the ability to work.

A driver can also be disqualified from having a CDL if they refuse to undergo sobriety testing as required by state law. In Arizona, this also means they must allow a blood draw to be done, according to implied consent laws.

For a first offense, a driver is disqualified from having a CDL for one year after their conviction. A DUI can cause them to face up to 10 days in jail, fines and fees of at least $2,000, requirement of an ignition interlock device in any vehicle they drive, alcohol or drug counseling, and probation.

If the driver’s BAC is at or above 0.15 percent, or it is a not their first DUI charge, then the potential punishments are much harsher, including a longer mandatory minimum jail sentence, higher fines, and longer driver's license suspension and CDL revocation. If a driver has two or more offenses during a three-year period, then their CDL is disqualified for an extended period.

Federal law adds another layer of consequences to a potential DUI charge. Similar to state law, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has established 0.04 percent as the BAC threshold for CDL commercial motor vehicle operators to be deemed driving under the influence of alcohol. Drivers in this situation are subject to federal sanctions which may affect their eligibility for both regular and commercial licenses.

A first major violation results in a one-year federal disqualification. If the driver was transporting hazardous materials, then the disqualification will last three years. A second major violation while driving any kind of motor vehicle will result in a lifetime disqualification, although a driver may be able to have their CDL reinstated after 10 years and the completion of an approved rehabilitation program.

A driver can also be disqualified from having a CDL if they are convicted of other criminal offenses such as transporting or possessing drugs while on duty, leaving the scene of an accident, or committing a felony involving the use of a commercial vehicle. If their offense is solely transportation or possession of drugs in a commercial vehicle, the disqualification is for six months.

The rules governing commercial driver’s licenses can be tricky, so it’s important to have an experienced attorney on your side in the event that you are charged with a disqualifying crime. The Behan Law Group has helped many CDL holders find the best outcome in their case and keep their jobs! We can help you, too. Call our office at (520) 220-5047 for a free consultation about your case and visit our website at for more important information.

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