If you are a CDL driver facing DUI charges, reach out to an experienced Florida CDL DUI lawyer at Erika Valcarcel, Criminal Defense Lawyer, P.A. as soon as possible. When you are a commercial driver’s license (CDL) holder, a charge of driving under the influence (DUI) of drugs or alcohol can ruin or dramatically set back your career. As a commercial driver, you are held to a higher standard than other drivers on the road. All drivers have a duty to be careful behind the wheel, obey the law, and not put others at risk of injury, yet your actions are more closely scrutinized. This is because you likely represent a business, drive a large and heavy vehicle, and may transport potentially dangerous materials.

If you cause an accident due to drunk driving a semi-truck, there is a greater chance of catastrophic damage and loss of life than from a crash initiated by a small sedan. This higher standard is why Florida law takes DUIs by CDL drivers very seriously. You can be arrested for a DUI with a lower blood alcohol content (BAC) than other drivers and the consequences will take away your livelihood.

Erika Valcarcel has years of experience handling DUI cases as both a prosecutor and now Florida CDL DUI lawyer in Sarasota and Manatee counties. She knows how to best fight for your rights during a DUI trial because she has been on the other side of the courtroom.

When CDL Drivers Can be Arrested for a DUI

According to Florida Statute Section 316.193, you are normally guilty of driving under the influence if you are in actual physical control of the vehicle while:

  • You are under the influence of alcohol beverages or a chemical substance to the extent that your normal faculties are impaired, or
  • Your blood or breath alcohol content is .08 percent or higher.

The rules are not exactly the same for you as a CDL holder. Like all drivers, you can be arrested if the police have evidence that your faculties are impaired due to drugs, alcohol, or a combination of these no matter your BAC. Officers will look for the smell of alcohol, containers of alcohol in your vehicle, delayed or clumsy movements, slurred speech, glassy eyes, and more to gauge your sobriety. However, when you are driving your commercial vehicle, the legal limit is .04 percent. This means you can be charged with a DUI with only half the amount of alcohol in your system as a driver in a personal vehicle, even if you do not display signs of inebriation.

Refusing to Take a Breath or Blood Test

If you are pulled over and arrested for a DUI while driving a commercial vehicle, you will be asked to submit to a chemical test, which is a breath, blood, or urine test. Under Florida law, all drivers consent to these tests is implied by having a license and using the state’s roads. If you refuse, you face consequences.

If you refuse to take a chemical test to determine your BAC, then you will automatically lose your license and become disqualified to drive a commercial vehicle for at least 1 year. However, you will have the opportunity to request a hearing to argue against this suspension. You must request a hearing within 10 days of your arrest and pay a fee. Keep in mind this is a civil administrative hearing regarding your automatic license suspension after a DUI and is not related to your criminal DUI case.

If your license is revoked despite the hearing, you may apply for a hardship license for your normal driver’s license. You cannot obtain a hardship license for your CDL. To obtain a hardship license, you must register for a Florida Advanced Driver Improvement Course and provide proof that you need to be able to drive to and from work or for work. You may be granted a hardship license for employment purposes, which will enable you to drive only for work or a hardship license for business purposes, which allows you to drive for work, education, religious affiliations, and medical purposes.

The Consequences of a DUI Conviction for CDL Holders

If you are convicted of a DUI based on either impairment due to drugs or alcohol or having a BAC at or above .04 percent while driving your commercial vehicle (whether or not you were on or off duty), you will be disqualified from driving a commercial vehicle for at least one year. If you were carrying hazardous materials at the time, you are disqualified for at least three years. Florida does not allow for hardship licenses for CDLs. Once you complete your entire disqualification period, you will have to ask for your CDL to be reinstated.

You also face other statutory consequences for a DUI conviction. For a first DUI offense with a BAC below .14, you can expect:

  • A fine between $500 and $1,000
  • Mandatory community service for 50 hours
  • Jail time up to six months
  • Jail time and probation combined for up to one year
  • Requirement to complete drug or alcohol education or treatment
  • A permanent criminal record

Consequences of a Second or Subsequent DUI

If you reinstate your CDL and then are convicted of a second DUI or a similar alcohol or drug-related offense, then you will be permanently disqualified from driving commercial vehicles.

Contact a Florida CDL DUI Lawyer for Help

When you are stopped while driving your commercial vehicle and arrested for a DUI, your first step should be to contact a Florida CDL DUI lawyer. Your livelihood is at stake. If you refused to take a breath, blood, or urine test upon arrest, then your CDL will have been suspended immediately. At Erika Valcarcel, Criminal Defense Lawyer, P.A. contact us so we can request the appropriate administrative hearing within the short time span granted under the law and aggressively fight for you to keep your CDL while you await the results of your DUI charge. We will also build you the strongest defense possible under the law to fight the DUI charge in Florida.

For more information on how a DUI can affect your driving career, contact a qualified Sarasota DUI lawyer form Erika Valcarcel, Criminal Defense Lawyer, P.A. at (941) 363-7900 and schedule a free initial consultation.