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Can Your Trucking Employer Sue You For Getting a DUI?

Posted on April 10, 2023 in

Being charged with a DUI is a frightening experience. Finding yourself charged, booked, undergoing mandatory blood or urine testing, and held in a cell until your citation is issued is a humbling experience that only worsens when the results of the blood test end in an official DUI charge and arraignment date. Facing Arizona’s mandatory jail time and fines is bad enough, but when you hold a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) and drive a truck for a living, the consequences of a DUI conviction threaten your livelihood.

If you are a truck driver with a CDL, you probably have many questions. Will I lose my Commercial Driver’s License? Will I lose my job? And can my boss file a lawsuit against me because I was driving under the influence?

Hiring a Phoenix DUI attorney after a DUI charge is an essential first step toward protecting your rights under Arizona law.

DUI and Truck Drivers in Arizona

Arizona law enforcement takes intoxicated driving very seriously. Even a first offense requires a minimum of 24 hours in jail and that’s only if the judge suspends the remaining 9 days of the mandatory 10-day stay in the county jail of the jurisdiction where you committed the offense. Often a judge will suspend the remaining 9 days if you agree to specific terms like attending alcohol abuse classes.

If the DUI involved an accident, you can count on additional criminal charges and likely a civil lawsuit filed by any injured victims. For truck drivers, the consequences are even more alarming. Not only is there a lower bar for blood alcohol level for CDL holders—0.4% rather than 0.8%—but when a commercial license holder is charged with a DUI, they can expect the following:

  • Immediate suspension of CDL for one year
  • A series of required steps for CDL reinstatement including mandatory classes on substance abuse
  • A Certified Ignition Interlocking Device with a breathalyzer for your personal vehicle
  • A restricted license that only allows you to drive to work, school, and doctor’s appointments
  • Mandatory notification to your employer

While most trucking employers will allow a driver with a DUI to continue their job after they’ve met all requirements and had their license instated, there are no laws saying that a private employer must allow you to return. Some trucking companies may not want a driver back after a DUI conviction, especially if an accident was involved.

Can My Trucking Employer File a Lawsuit Against Me After a DUI?

There are relatively few reasons an employer can sue an employee, and a simple mistake isn’t one of them. An employer can sue their own workers for the following:

  • Breach of contract
  • Negligence
  • Defamation
  • Stealing/selling trade secrets
  • Theft of equipment or valuable items
  • Breaching fiduciary duty
  • Failing to provide adequate notice of resignation

When a truck driver gets a DUI, there is typically no reason for their employer to sue them. However, if the DUI occurred in connection with an accident, there could be cause for an employer to sue.

DUI and Commercial Driving Negligence

There aren’t many reasons for a trucking employer to sue an employee who got a DUI, but if the driver caused an accident with expensive damages to freight and other vehicles, and they caused personal injuries, it’s possible that a lawsuit for employee negligence could be accepted in Arizona civil court. Your employer might be willing to sue you for damages on the grounds that you acting with extreme negligence by driving a truck loaded with expensive freight while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

Often, truck companies themselves are liable in lawsuits if one of their employees was at fault in an accident. It’s possible that the company could file a lawsuit against the negligent driver to recoup its losses.

Always Hire an Attorney the Moment You’re Charged With a DUI

Commercial drivers have their livelihoods at risk when they face DUI charges. It’s critical to hire a lawyer to protect your rights and best interests through every step of the process, especially if you are a trucking employee with a CDL.