As a Minnesota resident with a commercial driver’s license (CDL), you understand that the “rules of the road” are different for you than they are for other motorists. Whether you’ve been earning a livelihood with a CDL for years or have just put in your first hours on the road, it is critical to adhere to all state and federal regulations that govern your operation of a commercial vehicle. If the police pull you over or arrest you for DWI, your CDL is at risk.
There are several things to keep in mind regarding traffic stops and DWI-related issues that can affect your ability to continue to earn a living as an operator with a CDL. It’s also important to know where to seek support if you encounter legal problems associated with your CDL. First and foremost, remember that the court can suspend your license if you face DWI charges, even before your case goes to trial or whether a conviction is handed down.
Federal law requires automatic license suspension of 1 year for DWI
If you undergo conviction for DWI or alcohol license revocation as a CDL operator, you will lose your license for one year, even on your first offense. This is a mandated federal law. If you get another one, your CDL will be permanently revoked. This, of course, could cause serious financial distress if you earn your primary means of income by driving a commercial vehicle.
If a Minnesota police officer tells you to walk the line, you’d better do it
Non-commercial license drivers do not have an obligation to take a field sobriety test during a traffic stop in Minnesota. If the police pull you over while you are operating a commercial vehicle, however, you may not decline an officer’s request to take a walk-and-turn, one-leg stand or horizontal gaze nystagmus test. Police officers use these tests to determine if they have probable cause to make a DUI arrest.
When driving with a CDL, you must take a sobriety test when asked to do so by a law enforcement officer. Another key factor to remember is that the legal alcohol content limit for CDL drivers while operating a commercial vehicle is .04 percent, which is substantially lower than the limit for non-commercial motorists. This is one of many reasons it is best to abstain from alcohol if you know ahead of time that you’ll be getting behind the wheel of a commercial truck.
Stay calm and cooperate if you’re arrested for DWI
If you’re involved in a collision or taken into police custody in Minnesota, do your best to remain calm and cooperate with the investigation. It’s understandable that you’d be worried about losing your CDL, which, in turn, could cause you to lose your job. However, fleeing the scene of an accident or resisting arrest will merely make matters worse. It’s always best to allow the unfolding of legal events to take place and to secure whatever defense support is available to you at the time.