How DWI Convictions Affect a Commercial Driver’s License
If you are a commercial driver in New Jersey, a DWI conviction can have devastating consequences, especially when driving is your livelihood and possibly the sole source of income for you and your family. In addition to penalties faced by all drivers, commercial drivers may be subject to further penalties for even a first offense, and any subsequent offense could result in a lifetime loss of commercial driving privileges. Moreover, driver’s with a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) are held to a higher standard even when they are driving their personal vehicles.
Heighted Standards and Conviction in a Personal Vehicle
The normal blood alcohol content (BAC) limit for a DWI in New Jersey is .08% but for a CDL driver the BAC level is much lower – .04%. This applies to anyone with a commercial driver’s license, even if he or she is driving a personal vehicle. A conviction for a driver with a CDL under those circumstances, or for operating a non-commercial vehicle under the influence of illegal drugs, can result in a three to 12-month basic driver’s license suspension and a one-year CDL suspension for a first offense, and a 2-year basic driver’s license suspension and a lifetime CDL revocation for a second offense. Additionally, a driver who is convicted of DWI in another state could face a CDL suspension in New Jersey for 1 year for a first conviction, and a lifetime suspension for a second out-of-state conviction.
First DUI/DWI Conviction
A New Jersey commercial driver who is convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs while operating a commercial vehicle will face significant consequences, including notification to the Commercial Driver’s License Information System, suspension of his/her commercial driver license for between 1 to 3 years, fines and possible jail time. The amount of fines may vary, but the law allows a Court to charge anywhere between $25 to $500 for a first offense, in addition to a $33 court fee, $6 surcharge, $50 assessment to the Victims of Crime Compensation Board, and possible other payments. The court can also decide to impose a prison sentence of up to 30 days for an offense involving a commercial vehicle.
Furthermore, operators of vehicles transporting any hazardous material, or even a vehicle that simply displays a hazardous material placard, can have their commercial driver’s license suspended for three years. This could potentially result in a complete loss of income for a full-time driver.
Finally, as a commercial driver, you can receive a mandatory lifetime suspension of your commercial driving privileges for a first offense, if you have a criminal history that includes certain other crimes. Previous convictions for the following crimes will subject you to the lifetime suspension:
- Operating a commercial vehicle while on the revoked list
- Leaving the scene of a motor vehicle accident while operating a commercial vehicle
- Using a commercial vehicle in the commission of a crime
- Failure to submit to a BAC breathalyzer test
Therefore, if you are charged with drunk driving while operating a commercial vehicle, retain an experienced attorney specializing in DUI/DWI defense, carefully review your past history regardless of how long ago a past conviction occurred, and advise your attorney of any convictions you may have.
Second DUI/DWI Conviction
If you have already been convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, a second conviction will have even more serious consequences. First, a second offense includes fines and jail time of between 2 to 90 days. Second, commercial driving privileges will be revoked for life. Third, step-down provisions that New Jersey provides for some subsequent DWI/DUI offenders DOES NOT APPLY to suspensions of commercial driving privileges – however, New Jersey law may permit the lifetime suspension of commercial driving privileges to be reduced to 10 years. Any reduction in the term of suspension must be approved by the Chief Administrator of the Motor Vehicle Commission according to certain written guidelines on a case-by-case basis. Therefore, any driver charged with multiple DUI/DWI charges should discuss their situation with an experienced DUI attorney familiar with the various drunk driving laws, statutes, and regulations.
New Jersey Drunk Driving Lawyer Tom Chaves Represents Commercial Drivers Facing DUI Charges
If you are a commercial driver and are facing DUI charges, you may be facing the loss of your sole source of income and livelihood. Experienced New Jersey DWI lawyer Tom Chaves always strives to have your charges dismissed outright. If the charges against you cannot be dismissed, we will fight to have them downgraded. An experienced DUI/DWI lawyer can significantly improve your chances of avoiding a conviction. For a free consultation, call us at 908-256-3039 or contact us online today. We represent individuals charged with drunk driving in Somerset County, Hunterdon County, Middlesex County and Union County.