DUI For Commercial Vehicle Drivers
Driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol is generally always seen as a serious crime, given how dangerous it is and how many lives it takes. This arguably goes double for those who operate commercial motor vehicles (CMVs), given the size and weight of these – a CMV must weigh at least 26,001 pounds (in Florida) and transport certain numbers of goods or passengers. If a CMV driver is caught driving under the influence (DUI), they may not only face civil liability, but also criminal penalties.
A vehicle must meet three specific criteria in order to qualify as a CMV in Florida. It must (1) not be owned or operated by a governmental entity; (2) uses “special or motor fuel” on public highways; and (3) must either weigh 26,001 pounds or more or have 3 or more axles. This can include vehicles which transport either passengers or consumer goods, as long as the other three requirements are met. The rules will differ from state to state (and federally), but if a vehicle only operates in Florida, it will generally qualify.
DUI in a commercial motor vehicle is a specific offense, with heightened penalties for the driver if convicted and slightly different causes of action. If a CMV driver:
- Has a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .04 or higher;
- Is under the influence of alcohol or a controlled substance;
- Refuses to submit to BAC testing while driving a commercial motor vehicle; or
- Is convicted of DUI in a civilian passenger automobile or truck,
they can be charged with the offense of DUI in a commercial motor vehicle under the law. These offenses immediately come with a 1-year license suspension unless contested.
Civil, Criminal & Administrative Consequences
If a person is arrested for DUI, they must know that in addition to any civil or criminal penalties they may face, as a commercial driver you may face administrative consequences. The most common is having one’s commercial driver’s license (CDL) suspended or even removed. This can be devastating even if the person is not convicted criminally, simply because without a CDL one cannot operate the vehicles that are very often a person’s livelihood. They may seek reinstatement, but the 1-year suspension is all but set in stone, at least in Florida.
In addition to license suspension or revocation, a driver may still be convicted criminally or found civilly liable for causing an accident, as one might imagine, and the penalties are significant. A first-time DUI conviction carries fines and up to 6 months in prison if certain criteria apply, while a second and third increase both the amounts due and the time spent behind bars. If the offense is repeated, or if there are aggravating factors, prison time can range from months to years. Future employers can also check a driver’s record, which may cost them jobs in the future if convicted.
Contact A Tampa CMV Accident Attorney
Driving a CMV is a job which requires self-discipline and care. A breach of the duty of care can lead to negligence, which in turn can lead to liability and even criminal culpability in some situations. If you have been injured by a CMV driver under the influence, a Tampa CMV accident attorney from the Rinaldo Law Group may be able to help. Call our office to schedule a consultation.