A charge of driving under the influence (DUI) is serious for anyone. For commercial drivers, though, it can be a threat to their very livelihood. Worse, people with a commercial driver's license (CDL) are held to a higher standard than other people on the roads of Pennsylvania. When taken together, this means commercial drivers run afoul of Pennsylvania's drunk driving law and face higher penalties when they do.
Here are four ways CDL holders fare worse under the state's DUI law.
1. CDL Holders Have a Lower Legal Limit
The law has decided that drivers are too impaired to drive as soon as they have a blood alcohol content (BAC) at or above the legal limit. Every state except Utah has set that BAC limit at 0.08%.
However, Pennsylvania is one of the many states that expect commercial drivers to abide by an even stricter legal limit. Under 75 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 3802(f), drivers of commercial vehicles in Pennsylvania have a legal limit of only 0.04%. If they have a BAC higher than that, they are per se under the influence of alcohol and can be arrested and charged with drunk driving.
2. Commercial Drivers Face Steeper Penalties
Violations of § 3802(f) are treated differently than other DUI offenses when it comes to sentencing. Even though the legal limit is lower, 75 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 3804(b) sets out additional penalties for a violation that put it alongside DUIs involving high BACs or injury-producing accidents.
Even if it was only a first offense, there is a minimum jail sentence of 48 hours – a sentence that carries a maximum of six months. First convictions also carry fines of up to $5,000.
3. DUIs Suspend Both a Regular and a Commercial Driver's License
When a commercial driver is convicted of drunk driving, both their CDL and their regular driver's license can be suspended. Regardless of what vehicle was being driven, the consequences are far more severe than for normal drivers:
- If the CDL holder was driving their commercial vehicle and had a BAC over 0.04%, they can also lose their right to drive their personal vehicle
- If they were driving their personal vehicle and had a BAC over 0.08%, they can see their commercial driver's license suspended, as well
4. Commercial Drivers With a DUI Tend to Have Employment Issues
Commercial drivers who get convicted for a DUI – and even many who were just accused of drunk driving – tend to get fired from whatever driving job they held at the time of their arrest. Those who end up getting convicted for a DUI often have trouble getting a professional driving job, again. Lots of trucking companies refuse to hire anyone with a prior DUI out of fear that they may be held liable if the driver causes an accident after they get hired.
DUI Defense Lawyer Joseph D. Lento Serves Philadelphia
Joseph D. Lento is a criminal defense lawyer who legally represents Philadelphians who have been accused of drunk driving. Contact him online or call his law office at (215) 535-5353 for a DUI defense attorney to protect your professional future.