Fighting DUI Charges for CDL Holders

Commercial Driver’s License holders in Pennsylvania are held to very high standards and rules under the law. Truck drivers and school bus drivers are both strictly regulated under the PA Vehicle Code, and truck drivers are also federally regulated. Commercial truck drivers know how involved the rules and regulations are in their profession, and they work hard to operate within these rules in addition to their demanding workloads each day.

When a CDL driver gets charged with a DUI in Pennsylvania, he is facing the toughest challenge of his career. One conviction is all it takes to ruin a history of excellent performance. That is why a CDL holder needs to take any DUI charge extremely seriously, and must be ready to fight all charges to the fullest extent possible.

If you were off-duty and in your personal vehicle when you were charged, as a CDL holder, you will still face the strict penalties and enforcement of those penalties if you are convicted. Whether your DUI happened on or off-duty, know that there are many proven defenses available to fight against a CDL DUI charge.

CDL DUI Penalties in Pennsylvania

If you plead or are found guilty (conviction) of a 1st DUI while you are a CDL holder, you will be sentenced to:

  • At least 2 days to 6 months incarceration.
  • From $500 to $5,000 in fines.
  • Personal DL suspension of 12 months, plus
  • CDL suspension of 12 months; Or plus
  • CDL suspension of 3 years if HazMat involved.

If a CDL holder is convicted for a second DUI, he or she will be banned for life from operating with a commercial driver’s license in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. It is important to note that in PA, you can be charged with a DUI while biking or boating in addition to passenger car operation.

CDL DUI and Chemical Test Refusal

Lifetime revocation or disqualification of a CDL in Pennsylvania can happen all too easily. Commercial drivers are only allowed 1 DUI. As stated above, upon conviction of a 2nd DUI while holding a CDL, the driver will lose eligibility to drive under a CDL in PA for life. However, if police ask a CDL holder to submit to a breath or blood chemical test, and the driver refuses, the refusal will be reported to PennDot and will count against the driver as a disqualification event.

This means that if a driver with a commercial license has a prior DUI conviction, and subsequently gets charged for a DUI with Refusal, he or she will automatically be subject to the lifetime ban, even if the 2nd charge is successfully defended against in court.

The law states that any combination of disqualifying events will result in the lifetime ban: 2 chemical test Refusals, 2 DUI convictions, OR 1 conviction plus 1 Refusal. For this reason, a CDL holder should never refuse to submit to chemical blood alcohol testing when requested by law enforcement.

You may have a Refusal defense if police failed to notify you of the Implied Consent Laws, or under other specific circumstances. If you have questions about a recent chemical test refusal after a CDL DUI charge, please call or contact us as soon as possible.

A Caution about ARD for CDL Drivers

Many CDL holders have unfortunately received bad advice about how best to deal with their DUI charges in PA. The Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition, or ARD, program is a pre-trial probation agreement that is often available to first-time DUI offenders in the Commonwealth. Successful completion of an ARD results in no conviction.

**However, the ARD program will not work to save your CDL privileges because the DUI-ARD is still considered a violation for purposes of CDL qualification in the Commonwealth.**

The only way to protect your career as a commercial driver is to fight your charge/s in court to a finding of not-guilty, or have the charges dropped altogether. At Tibbott & Richardson, we know how crucial your CDL is to your future. We know all the related laws and are specifically trained to defend against DUI charges in Allegheny County, Indiana County, and Cambria County. We have extensive litigation experience in each aspect of a driving under the influence case, and are prepared to fight like your life depends on it; because we understand that it does.

Call us now for a free evaluation of your case: Pittsburgh: 412-690-0225 or Ebensburg: 814-419-6440