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Commercial drivers and DWIs: What are the risks?

On Behalf of | Dec 14, 2020 | Criminal Defense

Commercial drivers spend most of their time on the road. Therefore, obtaining and maintaining their commercial driver’s license (CDL) requires them to meet high safety standards when behind the wheel.

They must be especially careful when it comes to the risk of impaired driving. That is why drivers must understand all of the challenges they could face if they deal with DWI charges.

DWIs are a serious risk for commercial drivers

Most commercial drivers know that they face serious penalties if they drive impaired. This includes all kinds of individuals who drive for a living, from truck drivers to bus drivers.

All of these drivers are subject to North Carolina’s zero-tolerance standard, but what does this standard mean for drivers? It significantly increases the consequences and risks that commercial drivers could face. For example:

  • It is against the law for commercial drivers to operate a vehicle with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .04 percent , which is half the legal limit
  • North Carolina law generally requires disqualification of a driver’s CDL for one year after a first offense
  • Commercial drivers do not have limited driving privileges with a disqualified license

If commercial drivers face a second DWI offense, they could lose their CDL for life.

What if drivers are not in a commercial vehicle?

As mentioned above, commercial drivers are held to higher standards than most other drivers – even when they are not on the job.

It is important to note that if a commercial driver faces DWI charges involving a BAC of .08 percent or higher in their own vehicle, they could still face significant penalties. For example:

  • North Carolina law will still disqualify their CDL for one year
  • They could face consequences with their employer
  • Getting another job as a commercial driver could prove challenging

This is often in addition to the criminal and administrative penalties that come with a DWI conviction, including fines and jail time.

Any history of DWI charges or other moving violations could put a commercial driver’s career in jeopardy. This, in turn, can put their financial health and family at risk. Therefore, drivers must take these charges seriously and take steps to protect their rights and futures.