DUI and Commercial Driver’s License

Written by: The Law Offices of Garrett T. Ogata

If you thought a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 was low, if one is operating a commercial vehicle, then one can be charged with a DUI if their BAC is .04.  Of course one can still be charged with a DUI under impairment if lower than .04 and/or under the influence of a prohibit substance/controlled substance.

Nevada defines a commercial vehicle as a motor vehicle or combination of motor vehicles used in commerce to transport passengers or property if the motor vehicle:

(1) Has a gross combination weight rating of 26,001 or more pounds which includes a towed unit with a gross vehicle weight rating of more than 10,000 pounds;

(2) Has a gross vehicle weight rating of 26,001 or more pounds;

(3) Is designed to transport 16 or more passengers, including the driver; or

(4) Regardless of size, is used in the transportation of materials which are considered to be hazardous for the purposes of the federal Hazardous Materials Transportation Act, 49 U.S.C. §§ 5101 et. seq., and for which the display of identifying placards is required pursuant to 49 C.F.R. Part 172, Subpart F.

The main thing to take away from Nevada’s DUI law regarding operating a commercial vehicle is to not even drink if you will be operating a commercial vehicle.  Although criminal penalties are mostly the same as a regular DUI, the main issue will be the loss of one’s commercial driving license, which in most cases may be one’s livelihood.

Your commercial driver’s license privileges are treated drastically different than a regular Nevada driver’s license. In addition to facing DMV penalties regarding your regular license, your commercial license will carry harsher restrictions in terms of suspension of your commercial driving privileges.  See US Department of Transportation Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration for Disqualification of Drivers.

For example, if you are operating a commercial vehicle, you will receive a 1 year suspension of your commercial driving privileges if found guilty of a DUI first under Nevada law, which prohibits a BAC of .04 while operating a commercial vehicle, or even for refusing an evidentiary breath test.  This suspension is on top of the 90 day suspension you will also receive for your regular driver’s license.

If you are operating a non-commercial vehicle and are found guilty of a DUI first, but in this case the .04 will not apply, rather the .08 will, you still will lose your commercial driver’s license for 1 year and your regular license for 90 days.  Refusing an evidentiary test will also be grounds for a 1 year suspension of the commercial license as well.

Now to make matters worse, if you were operating a commercial vehicle that was transporting hazardous materials, and you get a DUI first, which invokes the .04 BAC, or refuse an evidentiary test, you will lose your commercial license for 3 years and your regular license for 90 days.

If you thought that was harsh, if you have a commercial driver’s license and are facing a DUIsecond, you will lose your commercial driver’s license for life and your regular driver’s license for 1 year.

You can see why it will be important to fight a DUI charge if one has a commercial driver’s license.  Your ability to earn a living driving may be suspended for 1 year to life.

Contact The Law Offices of Garrett T. Ogata to discuss your case and possible defenses.

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