DUI in a Commercial Vehicle or with a CDL
Any arrest for DUI while driving or being in actual physical control of a motor vehicle is a serious offense under Florida law. The consequences are more serious when the driver is in a commercial vehicle or holds a commercial driver's license.
The CDL holder must worry about the administrative consequences that come with an administrative or "on the spot" suspension. The CDL holder must also worry about the court-ordered sanctions if a DUI conviction is not avoided.
Under Florida law, a person can be charged with the offense of DUI in a Commercial Motor Vehicle under any of the following theories:
- When the driver of the commercial vehicle has a blood-alcohol level of .04 or above; or
- When the driver of the commercial vehicle is under the influence of alcohol or a controlled substance;
- When the driver refused to submit to a test to determine the alcohol concentration when driving a commercial motor vehicle; or
- Under any of the normal DUI laws that apply to drivers of non-commercial vehicles.
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Attorney Commerical Driver DUI in Tampa, FL
Contact an experienced DUI Lawyer in Tampa to discuss any case for operating a commercial motor vehicle or holding a commercial driver's license while DUI. The consequences for a DUI in a commercial vehicle or by a CDL holder are serious.
Don't wait too long. The CDL holder in Florida only has ten (10) days after your arrest for DUI to protect the driver's license from a suspension and the commercial driver's license from a disqualification. The attorneys at Sammis Law Firm in Tampa, FL, can help you with both.
Florida Alcohol Laws Specific to Commercial Vehicles under 322.62
The Florida statutory presumptions of impairment that apply to blood or breath alcohol results do not apply to commercial vehicle alcohol offenses. However, the prosecutor can still bring a prosecution for DUI under Section 316.193, even if the defendant was driving or in actual physical control of a commercial vehicle.
Penalties for the CDL driver include:
- Any Alcohol: Under Florida Statute Section 318.18, driving or being in actual physical control of a commercial vehicle with ANY amount of alcohol in the body can result in a traffic infraction. See Florida Statute Section 322.62(1).
- Alcohol Level of .04: If the commercial driver's blood or breath alcohol level is .04 or higher then the punishment is listed in 322.62(2)(b).
Definition of Commercial Vehicle
Florida law defines commercial vehicles to include any of the following types of vehicle driven on the streets or highways in Florida:
- vehicles with a declared maximum weight for purposes of registration when loaded of over 26,000 pounds (as defined in Florida Statute Chapter 320);
- vehicles with a "gross vehicle weight rating" of more than 26,000 pounds (as defined in Florida Statute Section 322.01(22));
- vehicles with a combined weight including the weight of the load as figured by the fixed scale operated by a portable scale operated by any law enforcement officer or a fixed scale operated by the State of Florida;
- vehicles designed to transport a driver and more than 14 passengers; or
- vehicles that must be placarded as required by Title 49 C.F.R., part 172, sub part F, in order to transport hazardous materials.
Ineligible to Operate a Commercial Motor Vehicle
In addition to any other punishment imposed in the criminal case, any person convicted of DUI in a Commercial Motor Vehicle or being in possession of a controlled substance while driving a commercial motor vehicle will suffer the following:
- First conviction: the driver is not eligible to operate a commercial motor vehicle for a period of twelve (12) months;
- Second or subsequent conviction: the driver is permanently ineligible to operate a commercial motor vehicle.
During the period in which the individual is ineligible to drive a commercial motor vehicle, there is no provision for a hardship license (either a business purpose only or an employment purpose only) driver's license to operate any commercial motor vehicle.
CDL Offenders and a Withhold of Adjudication
Under Section 318.14, Florida Statutes, the court is not allowed to withhold adjudication for the holder of a commercial driver’s license (CDL). The CDL holder is not permitted to elect to attend a driver improvement course in lieu of a court appearance in order to avoid a conviction or the imposition of points.
Under 49 C.F.R. § 384.226, the courts are prohibited from "masking" convictions. For this reason, the holder of a CDL is not permitted to enter a diversion program that would prevent a conviction for any civil traffic infraction or criminal traffic offense from being reported on a person's driving record. This prohibition does not apply to violations of traffic control laws for parking, vehicle weight, or vehicle defect. Currently, 49 C.F.R. § 384.226 does not provide for an exception for orders imposed by the court.
Federal law is concerned with masking or other actions that circumvent federal commercial driving regulations. Masking or diversion occurs when there is a judgment of guilt, and then the court holds the proof of the conviction in a way that prevents it from appearing on the driving record.
Criminal Defense Attorney for Commercial Motor Vehicle DUI in Florida
Anytime a CDL driver is accused of a criminal traffic offense, the consequences are serious. Harsh penalties apply when a CDL holder is accused of being under the influence of drugs or alcohol while driving a commercial vehicle. Even driving a personal vehicle while DUI has serious consequences for the CDL holder.
Whether you are accused of having any alcohol in your system, being over .04 threshold for CDL holders, or actually being over the legal limit of .08, we can help.
Contact an experienced Tampa DUI Lawyer in Hillsborough County for DUI commercial motor vehicle cases in Tampa and Plant City, Florida by calling the Sammis Law Firm, P.A. Our lawyers also represent CDL holders charged with criminal driving offenses throughout the greater Tampa Bay area including Hernando County, Pinellas County, Pasco County, Manatee County, and Polk County, FL.
This article was last updated on Friday, August 16, 2019.