Why CDL Drivers Charged With DUI Need a DWI Attorney

In North Carolina, CDL (Commercial Driver's License) drivers have legal responsibilities

that regular drivers don't. Drivers are responsible for determining whether cargo has been properly located, distributed, and secured. They must know working load limits and a host of other calculations — all in the name of safety. From maintaining their vehicles in a specific manner to getting off the road after so many hours, CDL drivers have a lot of responsibility and are subject to severe penalties for violations. But the most severe are the consequences of being convicted of a DWI.


Who makes the rules and punishments for DWIs and CDL drivers?


The Commercial Motor Vehicle Safety Act (CMVSA) sets the rules that determine the way Commercial Drivers Licenses (CDLs) are administered and governed. CDL drivers must comply with CMVSA regulations, but North Carolina has the power to modify the governing, issuance, and regulations of CDL licenses and the penalties of violations. And that means the state can put their own spin on the DWI process for CDL drivers.


Because of this sometimes conflicting regulation, if you have a CDL and you get a DWI in North Carolina, you could be facing a career-ending catastrophe. But with the help of a proven DWI attorney who understands the CMVSA regulations, that conflicting regulation could be used to your advantage.  


Why is North Carolina so tough on CDL drivers charged with DWI?


North Carolina’s DWI laws hold drivers with commercial drivers licenses to a much higher standard than non-commercial drivers. The legal limit for blood alcohol content for CDL drivers is 0.04%, as opposed to 0.08% for the rest of North Carolina drivers. Commercial drivers operate large equipment on roadways and pose more of a threat than other vehicles. 


So in the name of safety for other motorists, CDL drivers are held to stricter standards and endure harsher DWI penalties in North Carolina. It's important to note that the above rules apply regardless of whether or not you are operating a commercial vehicle at the time of your arrest. If you are charged with DWI while driving your personal vehicle, you will still be held to the same CDL standard.


CDL drivers and DWIs: Beware the three strike rule.


CDL drivers charged with DWI face an uphill battle without the help of a CDL DWI attorney. A single DWI conviction could spell the end of a commercial driving career. 


As a CDL driver, a first-offense DWI conviction without mitigating factors is punishable by a one-year disqualification of your CDL. A second DWI, or other major violation, could result in a lifetime disqualification of your CDL which can be appealed after 10 years in certain circumstances. A third DWI conviction will result in an absolute lifetime revocation of your CDL. 


Additionally, if you are convicted of operating a commercial vehicle transporting hazardous material at the time of your DWI, you will lose your CDL for three years. If you are convicted of a second DWI while transporting hazardous materials, you're facing permanent revocation of your CDL. 

Losing your CDL in North Carolina because of a DWI is only the beginning.


Because the consequences for getting a DWI with a CDL are so severe, without an experienced DWI attorney, you could be looking at life-changing consequences. And those consequences can go beyond just North Carolina. Federal laws state that if a CDL is suspended in one state, it is suspended nationally. That means you may end up in a situation where you can't work in your chosen industry anywhere for a year or longer. 


As if the penalties and career disruption aren't enough, you can also look forward to higher insurance premiums and possibly a criminal record. Don't let a DWI ruin your career or your life. A proven CDL DWI attorney from the Law Offices of Jason H. Reece in Charlotte has the experience and knowledge to help you save your license and your livelihood. Contact us today, and we'll get to work on the best defense.