Get a defense attorney who can protect your career
Florida DUI charges are always high-stakes, but the stakes are even higher when you're a commercial driver. All it takes is one conviction to completely derail your career. That's why you need a strong, spirited defense right off the bat, from an experienced Florida DUI attorney who knows how to fight back.
The first thing you need to know about DUI for CDL holders is that the legal limit is a BAC of 0.04, half the limit for other drivers over 21. The second thing to know is that there are additional penalties for commercial drivers, up to and including potentially losing your CDL forever with multiple offenses.
How a DUI conviction affects your CDL
For CDL drivers, your first DUI conviction results in a one-year suspension of your CDL. The same consequence applies to refusing a breath or blood test in violation of Florida's implied consent law. There are a few other serious traffic offenses that also result in a one-year CDL suspension, including leaving the scene of an accident (hit and run), negligently causing a fatality, and using a motor vehicle in the commission of a felony. Getting your CDL back after that suspension is up can be an involved process; you may have to go through the CDL certification process again, complete DUI school, and pay a reinstatement fee.
Moreover, if you have a second DUI or another serious traffic offense, you will lose your CDL permanently.
Of course, these are just the purely legal consequences associated with a CDL DUI. There are practical concerns as well. For example, it may be more difficult for you to get a job as a commercial driver with a DUI on your record, as trucking companies are understandably hesitant to hire drivers with a history of drunk driving. You may know you're a safe and responsible driver now, but why would a company that doesn't know you be willing to take that risk? That's why you need to fight the DUI with an experienced attorney on your side.
What you can do if you're charged with CDL DUI
Fortunately, you have multiple legal options if you're a CDL holder charged with DUI, but you have to act fast. The first decision is whether to request or waive a hearing to contest your administrative suspension that comes down automatically when you are arrested for DUI. You have 10 days to make this choice. The Formal Review hearing is not only an opportunity to contest the suspension but also to gather evidence that can help you win your actual DUI trial.
Then, you have to decide whether to fight the DUI charges in court or pursue a plea bargain or diversion program. In Hillsborough County, for example, you might qualify for the Reducing Impaired Driving Recidivism (RIDR) program, which allows you to reduce a DUI charge to reckless driving, which does not cause your CDL to be suspended. Of course, having a reckless driving conviction on your record is still not great for your career as a commercial driver, but it's certainly better than the automatic suspension that comes with DUI. Whether this option is in your interest depends on the circumstances and the strength of the evidence against you.
Ultimately, it's your call — but you need an attorney who knows the system and can explain the likely consequences of each course of action. I know the courts in Polk, Pasco, and Hillsborough Counties, and I have a winning track record fighting for commercial drivers charged with DUI. When your livelihood is on the line, don't take chances. Get Grajek. Schedule your free consultation today.