Many Oklahomans choose to earn their living in the cab of a truck, bus, or other heavy vehicle. You may be one of them. What you may not know, however, is that the consequences for a DUI are worse if you hold a commercial driver’s license.
An everyday driver in Oklahoma without a commercial license can be arrested for a blood alcohol concentration of .08 or greater, or about two to three pints of beer. Punishment generally includes probation, a required breathalyzer interlock device, and the loss of driving privileges for anywhere from 6 months to 3 years.
For commercial license holders, however, the allowable concentration is .04, or just two beers.
Stated another way, choosing to take your commercial vehicle home from the bar instead of your personal vehicle can trigger a DUI charge with half the amount of legally required alcohol.
In addition, the first conviction can lead to your commercial license being revoked for a year. A second conviction resulting from just two beers can lead to a lifetime ban on possessing a commercial driver’s license.
To understand why, consider the responsibilities of commercial drivers. We rely on them every day to transport school children on buses, casino and airport visitors on shuttles, explosive and poisonous substances on tank trucks, and every imaginable consumer product on semi haulers.
To obtain a commercial license in Oklahoma, you must pass health evaluations and specialized tests that grade your knowledge and driving skills. Additional expertise is required to transport passengers, multiple trailers, or hazardous materials.
These requirements exist because accidents involving commercial vehicles exact a far heavier toll on public safety. In fact, federal transportation authorities say that fatal and injurious crashes involving large trucks and buses have steadily increased for years.
Nearly 5,000 people were killed from these crashes in 2017, and over 100,000 people were injured that year. Combined with abundant news coverage and public outrage around deadly accidents, it’s no surprise authorities are strict about DUIs and commercial licenses.
**Your commercial license is just the beginning **
The trouble is not over if your commercial license is revoked following a DUI conviction. You also face possible criminal penalties, higher insurance premiums, revoked driving privileges in your personal vehicle, and other unforeseen costs.
Under the law, all Oklahoma drivers have the privilege, rather than the right, to possess a driver’s license, commercial or otherwise. In exchange, all drivers give “implied consent” to a breathalyzer test under Oklahoma law.
A refusal to submit is grounds for a standard driver’s license to be revoked. If you hold a commercial driver’s license, however, refusing a breathalyzer is grounds for your arrest.
If you blow above any allowable legal limit in either case, Oklahoma begins taking the same steps to revoke your personal driver’s license. That’s in addition to any criminal charges you face for driving impaired.
If you blow .15 or greater – about four to five pints of beer – prosecutors can criminally charge you with an “aggravated” DUI. That could lead to criminal enhancements of hundreds of hours of community service, required substance abuse treatment, probation, alcohol screenings, and more.
Despite the seriousness of an impaired driving charge, you still have rights and options.
You can contest the suspension of your commercial license through a hearing with the Oklahoma Department of Public Safety. Just keep in mind that any such hearing would have no impact on the outcome of any independent court decisions in your case.
You can also defend your criminal case on constitutional grounds. For that you need an attorney with the knowledge and experience necessary to understand all possible outcomes. But if it’s determined that your rights were violated over the course of your arrest, your charges could be reduced, dropped, or dismissed.
Even if you must plead guilty, an advocate asking the right questions could mean probation and the privilege to continue driving over jail time and a lost means of income. We have years of experience defending DUI cases, including ones involving CDLs. Contact us for a free consultation.
Don't settle for second class representation. We handle DUI cases every single day, and we know how to get the best result for you and help you get your life back on track. Our initial evaluation is always free.