If you drive a truck for a living, you may feel grateful to have one of the few jobs that are still in demand during these troubled and uncertain times. Truckers are essential for keeping shelves stocked and ensuring critical supplies arrive where people need them. It is a stressful and demanding job, and you may look forward to any chance you get to relax and unwind.

However, if your method of relaxation includes alcoholic beverages, you would be wise to understand how federal and Minnesota drunk driving laws apply to you. Because of the inherent danger in operating a 40-ton vehicle on streets and highways, you and other truckers must comply with standards that are far tougher than those for regular drivers. A DWI conviction could mean serious consequences, including the loss of your livelihood.

What’s on the line?

Even on a good day, when traffic is light and weather is clear, you cannot let down your guard behind the wheel of your rig. A moment of distraction or risk-taking may result in tragedy. This is why the law is so strict when it comes to alcohol consumption for truck drivers. Some of the federal rules you must comply with include the following:

  • You may not operate your rig with a blood alcohol concentration that is .04 or higher, which is half the BAC allowed for drivers of passenger vehicles.
  • You may not have alcohol in the cab of your vehicle.
  • You may not have a BAC of .04 or higher if you are in your vehicle for any reason except sleeping.
  • You may not have a BAC of .04 or higher during any related tasks, such as loading or unloading cargo, repairing your vehicle or waiting for others to load your rig.
  • You may not consume any alcohol, even a single beer, if you expect to be driving or performing any related duties within the next four hours.

Your employer may have additional rules. However, violating federal laws can mean life-changing consequences, potentially including criminal charges. A conviction for a DWI may result in fines and jail. Almost certainly, you will lose your license to drive. This may mean the loss of your job and potentially the end of your career driving a truck.

If you are facing DWI charges and are a commercial vehicle driver, you have a lot at stake. You do not have to deal with these issues alone. Having a skilled attorney on your side can improve your chances of obtaining a more positive outcome.