Commercial driver's license (CDL) holders in South Carolina and every state nationwide must meet stricter standards than their non-commercial counterparts. While non-CDL holders can potentially face DUI charges when their blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level is 0.08% or higher, CDL holders are subject to a markedly lower threshold of 0.04% BAC when operating a commercial vehicle.
Commercial drivers with a CDL should be mindful of the more stringent regulations they face regarding DUI charges and convictions. The repercussions can go beyond just monetary fines and time behind bars. They may also face disqualification of their CDL, which could hinder their ability to earn a living and provide for their loved ones.
Navigating the Impact of DUI Convictions on CDLs: Potential Long-Term Consequences
A DUI conviction could lead to a long-term commercial driver’s license disqualification. The loss of a CDL is not automatic after a DUI arrest. Specific criteria must be present for the suspension to apply.
A CDL disqualification may be triggered in one of the following situations:
- The driver is convicted of DUI or DUAC while driving any vehicle
- The driver has a BAC level of 0.04% while driving any vehicle
- The driver refuses a blood, urine, or breath test
For a first-time violation, the disqualification is at least one year. Further, if a commercial driver is convicted of a DUI while transporting hazardous materials, they could face a three-year CDL disqualification. The person’s CDL could be disqualified for life upon a second violation while driving any vehicle.
Because of the adverse effects of a disqualification on a commercial driver’s life, it is imperative that they seek to have their DUI cases dismissed or pursue a not guilty verdict in court.
Contesting an Implied Consent Suspension
South Carolina’s implied consent law (S.C. Code of Laws § 56-5-2950) provides that any individual operating a motor vehicle within the state implicitly consents to submit a blood, breath, or urine specimen if arrested under suspicion of DUI.
Refusal to comply with chemical testing can lead to serious consequences. A driver who declines to provide a specimen upon DUI arrest faces an automatic driver's license suspension for at least six months.
For commercial drivers confronted with a DUI charge, addressing not just the charge, but also any potential implied consent suspension becomes paramount. They must take action by requesting a hearing within 30 days of receiving the Notice of Suspension from the arresting officer. The Office of Motor Vehicle Hearings can dismiss the administrative suspension if the law enforcement officer cannot prove that they lawfully arrested the driver and the driver refused to test.
Contact Our Team
A DUI conviction carries profound implications for a commercial driver's professional prospects. When a CDL is disqualified due to such a conviction, the driver's ability to work stops. Even if the CDL is eventually reinstated, the aftermath of a DUI lingers as a significant obstacle. The presence of a DUI on their record can undermine their employability, as potential employers might perceive them as a liability. This perception is often compounded by the potential for higher insurance rates, which further complicates their reentry into the workforce.
At Truslow & Truslow, our seasoned legal team in Columbia is experienced in mounting robust defenses against DUI charges for commercial driver’s license holders. We understand the unique complexities these cases entail and are dedicated to safeguarding the livelihoods of our clients.
With comprehensive knowledge of DUI laws and commercial driving regulations, we formulate strategic defenses to challenge the charges. Moreover, we extend our commitment by offering representation at administrative hearings.
Please contact us at (803) 590-6688 to schedule a free initial case evaluation.