If you’re one of the more than 3 million CDL holders in Minnesota and throughout the United States, you might be a bus driver or a long-haul trucker. Perhaps you haul heavy equipment. No matter what your specific duties are, you no doubt understand the serious responsibilities that having a commercial driver’s license entails. The last thing you want is to face DWI charges, especially while driving a commercial vehicle.
As a CDL vehicle operator, you must be cautious and alert at all times. Depending on your specific operations, there may be potential danger involved. For instance, if you’re a bus driver, you might have passengers entrusted to your care. If you haul freight, it might be hazardous materials that could be dangerous if spilled. There are stringent regulations involved in commercial driving, especially regarding alcohol.
The legal BAC level is different for CDL operators than non-commercial drivers
In most states (Utah .05), a driver is prohibited to operate a motor vehicle if his or her blood alcohol content (BAC) level reaches .08 or higher. As a commercial vehicle driver, however, your BAC level must be .04 or lower to legally operate the commercial vehicle and you must wait a minimum of 4 hours after drinking any alcohol to operate a commercial vehicle.
Refusing a breath test has implications for commercial vehicle drivers
If a police officer arrests you for suspected drunk driving, and you refuse to take a Breathalyzer, you can expect immediate and far-reaching repercussions. For CDL holders, a Breathalyzer refusal typically results in an automatic license revocation and subsequent CDL disqualification for a minimum of one year, depending on whether this is your first or have multiple offenses. In fact, if you refuse a Breathalyzer and are not convicted of DWI, your license revocation for your refusal may still stand if the revocation was never challenged in court.
Your employer must be notified
Even if police arrested you and charged you with DWI during off-duty hours, by law, you must still notify your employer of your case. Such notification typically must occur within 30 days of a DWI conviction or before the end of the business day following the day the driver received a notice of CDL license disqualification, revocation or suspension. Again, these notice requirements apply regardless of whether the driver was in commercial or personal vehicle.
A DWI can impede your ability to earn a living
Many employers will not hire someone who has a criminal record for DWI in Minnesota. If driving a commercial vehicle is your primary source of income, you could encounter severe financial distress after facing DWI charges. As in all criminal cases, your opportunity to present a defense in court is a guarantee. It’s helpful to rely on experienced legal support to explore your defense options and determine which strategy might increase your chances of obtaining a favorable outcome.