Few licensed professionals face more significant repercussions after a DUI conviction than commercial drivers. Their responsibilities involve safely operating trucks, buses, or other motor vehicles. A DUI charge poses a substantial threat to their career and financial stability. If you are being charged with driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol while operating a commercial vehicle, you need to hire an experienced Napa commercial license DUI lawyer.
Commercial vehicles are generally categorized into different classes, requiring different licenses or endorsements to operate legally. The various types of these vehicles are classified based on their size, weight, and purpose.
Class A vehicles include tractor-trailers, tanker trucks, and livestock vehicles. If a driver has a Commercial Class A license, they are allowed to operate any combination of vehicles with a Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) of 26,001 pounds or heavier with a 10,000-pound or more trailer or vehicle in tow.
Class B vehicles include normal trucks, city, tour, and school buses, delivery trucks, concrete and dump trucks, garbage trucks, and vehicles required for fixing things. A driver with a Commercial Class B license is permitted to drive a single vehicle with a weight of 26,001 pounds or more and tow a trailer weighing up to 10,000 pounds.
Standard Class C licenses are for pickups, vans, passenger cars, and vehicles that can carry 16 or more people but are not classified as Class A or Class B licenses. If a driver has a Class C with a commercial driver endorsement, they are permitted to drive double/triple trailers, tank trucks, buses, and hazmat vehicles.
In California, recreational vehicles (RVs) do not require a commercial license to operate.
Driving Under the Influence, or DUI, is the act of operating a motor vehicle while impaired by alcohol, drugs, or a combination of both. This impairment can affect a driver’s ability to safely operate a vehicle, leading to diminished coordination, slowed reaction times, impaired judgment, and an increased risk of accidents.
Law enforcement can pull a driver over for a suspected DUI through multiple different avenues, including:
California’s commercial DUI vehicle code law makes it illegal to drive a commercial vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .04% or higher. This lower BAC restriction only applies when the driver is operating a commercial vehicle and does not apply if a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) driver is operating a non-commercial vehicle.
A commercial driver can be charged with a DUI if they are driving under the influence of any drug or a combination of alcohol and any drug. Any person who is arrested for a drug DUI can choose to submit a breath test or a blood test, but most often, both are done as breath tests cannot detect drugs. If these tests cannot be completed, the driver must submit a urine test instead, as all drivers operate under “implied consent.”
“Implied consent” in California means that anybody operating a motor vehicle in the state is obligated to a chemical test if requested by law enforcement. This concept is based on the understanding that by obtaining a driver’s license and operating a vehicle on California roadways, drivers agree to follow certain regulations, including submitting to chemical tests when arrested for DUI.
Law enforcement provides drivers with an implied consent notice when making a DUI arrest, which informs the driver of their obligation and any possible consequences that come from a refusal. If you refuse a blood, urine, or breath test, there will be legal penalties, such as an automatic one-year CDL suspension.
If a commercial driver is charged with DUI, the penalties can be more severe as compared to those for non-commercial drivers. Commercial drivers are subject to stricter standards due to the increased responsibility associated with operating larger and potentially more dangerous vehicles.
A first commercial DUI offense is punished by:
Other consequences may include:
If the DUI committed led to the injury of a third party, the charges often become classified as felonies in California and can lead to more severe criminal penalties, including imprisonment and restitution. There might also be longer license suspensions and other insurance implications. Individuals injured in the accident may file civil claims seeking compensation for medical expenses, pain and suffering, lost wages, and other damages.
It is important to contact a DUI crash attorney immediately if you are convicted of a DUI that led to the injury of a third party.
Any conviction will count as a “strike” under California’s “Three Strikes” law if the third party experiences great bodily injury. This law imposes 25 years to life prison sentences on a defendant if they are convicted of a violent or serious felony offense and they already had at least two prior violent or serious felony convictions.
If a second commercial DUI is committed, it will result in the loss of a commercial driver’s license for life.
In Napa, CA, even if the DUI occurred in a private vehicle, it can still impact the driver’s commercial driver’s license. The California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) may take separate actions regarding the CDL and the regular driver’s license based on the DUI arrest, such as suspension or revocation, which can come with current or future employment consequences.
A Napa DUI attorney can use various common defense strategies to aid in reducing or even dropping charges. While these defense approaches cannot be guaranteed, they often prove effective in optimizing the outcome of the case. These are a few strategies used when forming a robust DUI defense:
Fighting a commercial DUI charge is the same as fighting a regular DUI charge in California. You may have a chance of getting your charges reduced or dropped with the right DUI defense. The Law Office of Conor Bell can help strategize the most effective approach for your case.
If you find yourself confronting commercial license DUI charges or even a regular DUI charge while you are a CDL holder, it’s crucial to seek guidance from a Napa commercial license DUI attorney. Discuss your case with our legal team to explore potential defense strategies aimed at reducing charges or securing their dismissal. The Law Office of Conor Bell is ready to assist you. Reach out to one of our well-informed legal professionals to understand how our firm can positively impact your case.