Here Is What You Need To Know if You Get a DUI With a CDL in Pennsylvania

If you have a commercial driver’s license (CDL) in Pennsylvania, DUI charges work a little differently than with a non-commercial driver’s license. This is because commercial drivers are held to a higher standard–after all, they are trained professionals who are paid to be on the road. For this reason, a DUI conviction carries more severe consequences for commercial drivers. This is true even if you were off the clock and driving your personal vehicle at the time of your DUI arrest. If you have a CDL and have been charged with a DUI, here is what you can expect. 

License Suspensions

One of the strictest DUI penalties for commercial drivers in Pennsylvania is the license suspension. If you have a CDL and are convicted of a DUI, you will automatically lose your CDL and will be suspended for a minimum of 12 months. This means that you will not be able to work as a commercial driver during this time (and, to make matters worse, you will likely have a difficult time finding work after your CDL suspension has been lifted, because most employers are leery of hiring a commercial driver with a DUI conviction on their record). For many commercial drivers, this is one of the most devastating consequences of a DUI conviction, as it means loss of income and livelihood. This is why it is so important to hire a Pittsburgh DUI attorney if you are facing a DUI charge. A DUI attorney can fight for your rights in Pennsylvania court. 

BAC Levels For Commercial Drivers In Pennsylvania

Non-commercial drivers in Pennsylvania are considered to be “under the influence” if their blood alcohol content (BAC) exceeds .08 percent.  Many Pennsylvanians assume that this BAC level applies to commercial drivers as well, however, this is not the case. As we said before, commercial drivers are held to a higher standard in the eyes of the law.  In Pennsylvania, commercial drives must have a BAC of under .02 percent–roughly the equivalent of one beer! Again, this holds true even if you are off duty and driving a non-commercial vehicle. 

Tiered Penalties For Commercial Drivers

Another thing to consider: Pennsylvania has a tiered system for determining DUI penalties. These tiers are determined by your BAC as well as your prior DUI convictions. This is true for both non-commercial and CDL cases. As you might have guessed, the tiered system is stricter for commercial drivers. If you are a commercial driver in Pennsylvania, a BAC of .04 puts you in the “High Impairment” Tier. Note that this is still only half of the .08 BAC that puts non-commercial drivers in the lowest tier. As a High Impairment first-offender, you face up to 6 months in jail, a 1-year license suspension, and a fine of up to $5,000. If you are a school bus driver, you face these same penalties with a BAC of .02 (again, the equivalent of one beer).

Penalties for commercial drivers with no prior DUI convictions are as follows: 

  • A minimum 12-month license suspension (automatic)

  • Fines ranging from $500 to $5,000

  • Jail time ranging from 2 days to 6 months

For a commercial driver with a second DUI conviction, the 12-month license suspension stays the same, but the other penalties increase: fines will range from $750 to $5,000 and jail time will range from one to six months. If you fall into Pennsylvania’s “Highest Impairment” Tier, the penalties become even harsher: you will receive a minimum 18-month license suspension; fines up to $10,000; and jail time of up to 5 years. Needless to say, this is devastating to commercial drivers in Pennsylvania. Something else to consider: CDL holders with 2 or more serious traffic violations (including – but not limited to – failure to yield, reckless driving, excessive speeding, following too closely, and texting while driving) could lose their CDL for life. 

Other Consequences Of A DUI Conviction In Pennsylvania

For CDL holders in Pennsylvania, DUI convictions carry broader consequences aside from those handed down by the courts. Such consequences include:

  • A Tarnished Reputation: It will be harder to get hired again by any employer, especially as a commercial driver

  • Increases Insurance Premiums

  • Inconveniences: If your license is suspended, it will be more difficult to pick your kids up from school, drive to appointments, or any of number of other things that you do in a given week

Aside from all that, it will be harder to enjoy life after a DUI conviction: you will likely be hard up for cash, you won’t be able to get around as easily, and your relationships may suffer. This is why it is so important to always drive sober. 

A DUI Charge Does Not Equal A Conviction

If you have been charged with a DUI as a CDL holder, it might be tempting to give up. You should take heart, however, that a DUI charge is not the same thing as a conviction, even for commercial drivers. The Pittsburgh DUI lawyers at the Wyland Group have gotten several DUI charges thrown out for commercial drivers. Here in Pennsylvania, your DUI charge could be dismissed because your arrest was mishandled, paperwork was incorrectly filed, or because the evidence was improperly gathered. As a resident of Pennsylvania, you have rights. Your DUI lawyer will defend those rights in Pennsylvania court. 

Finding An Experienced DUI Lawyer

To have any hope of beating a DUI charge, you need an experienced lawyer. Hiring an experienced Pittsburgh DUI lawyer is crucial to any DUI case, but it is especially crucial when a CDL is involved because the penalties are so much stricter. The Wyland Group has been successfully defending commercial drivers in the Pittsburgh area for years. We will help you through each step of the DUI trial, with the goal of either getting your charges dismissed or getting you the lightest sentence. You should never have to face a DUI charge alone.