A commercial driver’s license (CDL) is subject to strict rules that do not apply to an ordinary driver’s license. For example, a person with an ordinary driver’s license will have his license suspended for 3 convictions for moving violations within a year. But a CDL will get canceled after only two moving violations in 3 years.
An arrest for driving under the influence can cancel a CDL in more ways than one, and sometimes cancel the CDL even if the driver is found not guilty.
A DUI will result in a disqualification for a CDL on either of these grounds:
- A finding of guilt, regardless of the sentence.
- A statutory summary suspension for refusing chemical testing (eg, refusing testing of blood, breath, or urine).
These rules are set forth in the Code of Federal Regulations, and so they apply to CDLs from all states. See 49 CFR 383.51(b). A DUI from any state has the same penalties for a CDL, regardless of the state from which the person has a CDL.
A person does not have to be found guilty of DUI in order to have the CDL canceled. The summary suspension for refusing the breathalyzer alone is enough to cancel the CDL.
A person who has a CDL will lose the CDL for either the DUI or summary suspension regardless of whether he was driving a commercial motor vehicle (CMV). If the arrest occurred in a personal car, it still counts to disqualify the driver’s CDL.
Anyone with a Hazmat endorsement is subject to additional rules. If the driver was operating a CMV transporting hazardous material (Hazmat), then there are enhanced penalties. A DUI while driving a Hazmat vehicle, or a refusal of chemical testing, causes a 3-year disqualification of the CDL.
If the driver was operating a CMV and chemical testing showed an alcohol concentration of 0.04 or more, then that person’s CDL is cancelled for one year. This rule applies even if the driver did not get charged with a DUI. The reason is, the legal limit for driving a CMV is lower than an ordinary vehicle.
A finding of guilt for a second DUI, regardless of the sentence imposed, causes a lifetime disqualification from holding a CDL.
A person who was arrested for DUI can protect his CDL by challenging the suspension and charge in court.
The process for challenging the summary suspension in Illinois is a petition to rescind. When the petition to rescind is filed, the driver has a right to a hearing within 30 days. Failure of the officer to appear in court may result in the summary suspension being rescinded.
The DUI is a criminal offense and as such, the driver is presumed innocent. The State has the burden of proof beyond a reasonable doubt. If the lawyer can show that the field sobriety testing was not reliable, or that the breathalyzer malfunctioned, the driver may be acquitted.
These cases can be won.