If you have earned a Pennsylvania Commercial Driver’s License, you understand that losing this license can seriously damage your ability to earn a living and support your family. Convictions for “major” and “serious” traffic offenses, including driving under the influence (DUI), may disqualify you from operating a commercial motor vehicle for months, years or even a lifetime. If you are facing a CDL disqualification due to a DUI or other traffic offense, you need a knowledgeable CDL attorney on your side.
I have over a decade of experience providing skilled and aggressive representation to CDL holders charged with DUI and other vehicle code violations in Bucks County, Montgomery County and the surrounding counties. Contact me at (215) 752-5282 for a free initial consultation or fill out the confidential contact form for an immediate response. Appointments are available after business hours and on weekends.
DUI and the CDL Holder
CDL holders may face mandatory CDL disqualification if they are convicted of DUI or if they refuse chemical testing during a DUI investigation. A CDL disqualification is the temporary or permanent withdrawal of an individual’s commercial motor vehicle operating privileges. Commercial drivers are subject to much lower blood alcohol content (BAC) levels for DUI than non-commercial drivers. Commercial driver’s can be charged and prosecuted for DUI if their BAC is .04 or greater while operating a commercial vehicle.
Consequences of a DUI Conviction for the CDL Holder
CDL holders who are charged with DUI face much more severe penalties upon conviction compared to non-commercial drivers. The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDot) will impose a disqualification of CDL privileges upon notice of a DUI conviction, even if the DUI occurred while the CDL holder was operating a non-commercial vehicle. CDL holders who are convicted of DUI will often face disqualification of their commercial driving privileges in addition to a separate suspension of their non-commercial operating privileges. I can help you fight the disqualification of your CDL operating privileges if you have been charged with DUI.
DUI and Chemical Test Refusal Defense
I have extensive experience defending commercial and non-commercial drivers charged with DUI and chemical test refusals. Reviewing the reliability and accuracy of the chemical test results in a DUI case is just one part of a thorough and comprehensive DUI defense strategy.
Many other potential defenses to DUI require investigation and identification before trial. I will examine the facts and evidence in your case to develop the most effective defense strategy to protect your CDL. In addition to potential legal challenges to DUI chemical test results, a DUI charge may be successfully challenged in court under any of the following circumstances:
- The police conducted the vehicle stop without reasonable suspicion
- The police conducted the vehicle stop without probable cause
- The police conducted the vehicle stop without proper jurisdiction
- The police improperly conducted the field sobriety tests
- The police lacked probable cause for the DUI arrest
- The police seized the suspect’s blood without a search warrant
- The police used an illegal DUI checkpoint to arrest the suspect
Chemical test refusal defenses may include the failure of police to establish reasonable grounds to believe that the driver was DUI, insufficient notice by the police of the implied consent law or insufficient evidence of the driver’s refusal of chemical testing. I will review the evidence in your case to identify and develop the strongest available defenses.
CDL Penalties for DUI and Chemical Test Refusal
- 1-year disqualification for 1st DUI conviction
- Lifetime disqualification for 2nd DUI conviction
- 1-year disqualification for 1st chemical test refusal
- Lifetime disqualification for 2nd chemical test refusal
A combination of a certified report of a CDL holder’s chemical test refusal and a DUI conviction arising from separate and distinct incidents will also result in a lifetime disqualification of CDL privileges. Under the Pennsylvania Vehicle Code, a CDL holder’s admission into Pennsylvania’s Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD) program or a different pre-trial diversion program for DUI is considered a conviction and triggers a 1 year CDL disqualification. It is important to contact an experienced CDL defense lawyer once you are charged with DUI or any other traffic offense.
CDL Disqualification for Major Traffic Offenses
CDL holders are subject to more severe penalties for violations of the Pennsylvania Vehicle Code than are non-commercial driver’s license holders. In Pennsylvania, a conviction for a “major” traffic offense can result in a CDL disqualification even if it involves a single violation for one offense.
The length of your CDL disqualification will depend on the type of traffic offense committed, your driving history and whether you were operating a commercial or a personal vehicle at the time of the citation. In most circumstances, PennDot will impose a disqualification of your CDL whether you committed the offense while operating a commercial vehicle or a non-commercial vehicle.
Common Major Traffic Offenses
- A conviction for DUI
- Driving a commercial vehicle with a BAC of .04 or higher
- Refusal to take a chemical test after being arrested for DUI
- Leaving the scene of an accident
- Using your vehicle in the commission of a felony
- Driving a commercial motor vehicle with a revoked, suspended or cancelled license
- Causing the death of a person by the negligent operation of your vehicle
CDL Disqualification for “Serious” Traffic Violations
A CDL holder convicted of 2 serious traffic offenses within a 3-year period will face a 60-day disqualification of their CDL. CDL holders convicted of 3 or more serious traffic offenses within a 3-year period will face a 120-day disqualification of their CDL. The majority of the penalties imposed on CDL holders for serious traffic offenses result from offenses committed while the CDL holder was operating a commercial vehicle.
Common Serious Traffic Offenses
- Reckless driving
- Excessive speeding (15 mph or more over the speed limit)
- Erratically or improperly changing lanes
- Operating a commercial vehicle while texting
- Operating a commercial motor vehicle without a valid CDL
- Operating a commercial vehicle while using a cellphone
A CDL holder convicted of a railroad-highway grade crossing offense faces automatic disqualification of their CDL if the offense occurred while the CDL holder was operating a commercial vehicle. A 1st offense will result in a CDL disqualification of 60 days. A 2nd offense within a 3 years period will result in a 120-day disqualification, while a 3rd or subsequent offense will result in a 1 year CDL disqualification.
Defending your CDL
I understand how important it is for a CDL holder to maintain a clean driving record and to avoid the disqualification of their commercial driving privileges. I have extensive knowledge of Pennsylvania’s DUI law and the Pennsylvania Vehicle Code, as well as the regulations related to commercial drivers. Certain cases may be resolved through a plea bargain to a reduction of the charges. In other cases, a contested hearing before a judge or a trial before a jury may be necessary to establish your innocence and protect your commercial driving privileges. I will develop the most effective legal strategy to protect your rights and help you stay on the road.
Start with a Strong Defense
If you are a CDL holder currently facing charges for DUI or other vehicle code violations in Bucks County, Montgomery County or the surrounding counties, you must act quickly to protect your rights and build the strongest possible defense against the charges. Phone lines are open 24 hours a day at (215) 752-5282. Call today for a free initial consultation or fill out the confidential contact form for an immediate response.