Montgomery County DUI Charges and CDL Holders
While a DUI charge is a serious enough matter for anyone, for a commercial driver a DUI charge can be even more serious as it may result in loss of employment. For this reason, it is imperative that if you are facing a DUI charge as a commercial driver you consult with a Montgomery County DUI lawyer as soon as possible to discuss your case.
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Impact of a DUI On Commercial Drivers
DUI cases in any jurisdiction are going to have a much higher impact on an individual with a commercial driver’s license than they would on an individual with a regular driver’s license. Loss of license on a commercial license compared to a regular license is going to be longer and more severe than it would be in a regular driver’s license case.
For example, in a low blow case (a breath test that registers 0.08 to 0.14) the Maryland MVA has the option to issue a work restricted license. However, they tend not to modify a suspension for a CDL driver in the same way. Even a first offense with a low blow is going to result in an automatic suspension of the CDL with no type of modification for work.
In addition, for a DUI in Maryland, if a person receives probation before judgment (PBJ), this information doesn’t go against that individual’s driving record unless they have a commercial driver’s license. The Federal Motor Carrier Regulations states that you can’t mask a DUI conviction if you are a CDL driver, so that PBJ falls under that masking provision and the Maryland MVA will suspend a CDL drivers driver’s license for a first DUI even if they receive probation before judgment in court. DUIs are much more severe and much more significant for people who earn their living with a CDL.
If Someone Is Charged But Not Convicted Can They Still Lose Their CDL?
As far as DUI charges are concerned, the criminal charges and the administrative license suspension are two different things and involve two very different judicial systems.
If an individual is able to beat the case in court, then that will mean that there would be no additional penalty besides the administrative license suspension. However, it would be necessary to also win the case at the office of administrative hearings in order for that individual to not lose their CDL at all. This can sometimes be easier or harder than winning a court case depending on what the facts are.
In a refusal case, for example, the issue at the Office of Administrative Hearings for the license suspension isn’t impairment—it’s the refusal to submit to a breath test or blood test. So, perhaps that case is easier to win because there was not an actual refusal. In other cases, there are different burdens of proof and burdens of persuasion in different forms. At court, the State’s Attorney has to prove all elements of the case beyond a reasonable doubt. In the Office of Administrative Hearings, the MVA has to prove the case by a preponderance of the evidence. Those are two very different legal standards, and “beyond a reasonable doubt” is a very high legal standard and preponderance of the evidence is a very low legal standard.
Long Term Implications of a DUI
The long-term implications of a DUI conviction on a CDL holder will depend on that person’s DUI history. With this in mind, first convictions are going to be different than a second convictions, and those are going to be different than third or subsequent convictions.
Overall, DUI penalties are going to be a lot more severe for CDL holders than they are for the regular non-commercial drivers in Maryland.
Are CDL Holders Held To a Higher Standard in Court?
There is a lower prohibited breath alcohol content for CDL drivers, and when they are operating a commercial vehicle, an individual is not allowed to have any alcohol in their system at all—so even a BAC reading of 0.02 while operating a commercial motor vehicle can be a real issue for a CDL holder. A breath alcohol level that is so low that it’s not even prohibited in Maryland at all can still be an issue for you with a CDL if you’re operating a commercial motor vehicle. That should demonstrate pretty clearly how seriously Maryland treats CDL DUI charges.
If you’re a CDL holder and you’re driving your regular motor vehicle, then you’re going to be held to the same standards as other Maryland noncommercial drivers. However, if a CDL holder is charged with a DUI in his or her personal vehicle, there are potential additional penalties against their license because they’re CDL holder. Talk to an experienced DUI attorney today to learn more.
Restricted License for First Time CDL DUI Offenders
There is no restricted license available to an individual convicted of a CDL DUI, even if it is the first time. There is absolutely no modification of driver’s license suspension for CDL holders; even ignition interlock is unavailable.
How an Attorney Can Help CDL Holders
In CDL holder’s case, it’s going to be a lot more important to challenge every aspect of the case and look for any kind of possible hole in the MVA or the state’s case, in order to fight as hard as you can early on to help the CDL holder to keep their license. Additionally, requesting the hearing in a timely manner will cause the MVA to extend a temporary privilege, which does let an individual keep working using their CDL until the date of hearing. If the individual doesn’t request a hearing at all, their license is suspended 45 days from the date of the incident. If the individual requests the hearing within 10 days, then the license suspension doesn’t go into effect until the date of the actual hearing, which may be as long as three or four months after the date of the incident.
By working proactively with an experienced attorney, and individual can lock in additional work time that might otherwise be unavailable. This is one of the things that people often don’t take into account when they lament having to pay for an attorney, but it’s a situation in which a Montgomery County DUI lawyer can help to save you from losing a great deal of money before even entering the courtroom.