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Will You Lose Your CDL After Getting a DUI?

Posted on March 8, 2023 in

In Arizona, driving while intoxicated comes with stiff penalties. Arizona law enforcement takes drunk driving very seriously. Impaired drivers pose a significant danger to others on the road, killing one American approximately every 45 minutes. Consequences for a first DUI offense in Arizona can bring fines of over $1,250 and ten days of jail time, as well as a driver’s license suspension. Although these consequences are significant, for those who make their living driving trucks or other commercial vehicles, not only are the penalties for DUI far more serious, but many times they are also life-changing.

Lower Legal Limits for CDL Holders

All state law enforcement agencies hold commercial drivers to higher standards due to the amount of time they spend on the roads and the large, unwieldy vehicles they drive for commercial transport such as semi-trucks, box trucks, and buses. Because these vehicles outweigh typical passenger cars by thousands of pounds, make wider turns and require longer stopping times, drivers of commercial vehicles must be alert, attentive, and vigilant in their driving at all times in order to protect others on the road. Studies show that even a small amount of alcohol consumption doubles the risk of an accident compared to driving sober. A large, heavy vehicle and a driver with slowed reaction times, compromised cognition, drowsiness, and other impairments associated with alcohol are a deadly combination.

Because of the increased risks, Arizona, like other states, has a lower limit for blood alcohol levels (BAC) for drivers with commercial driver’s licenses. While the legal limit for a driver with a standard license is .08%, the limit for CDL holders drops to .04%. For an average individual, as few as 2 to 3 drinks can result in a BAC of .04% or higher.

DUI and License Suspension for Commercial Drivers

For commercial drivers in Arizona, a BAC between .04% and .15% results in a 12-month suspension of their commercial driver’s license on top of the standard first-offense penalties of up to 10 days in jail and a minimum $1,250 fine. The one-year CDL suspension applies even if the commercially licensed driver was driving a personal vehicle at the time they were pulled over. The driver’s standard license is also suspended for a period of 30 to 90 days. Importantly, a BAC of .15% or higher results in even stiffer penalties for commercial drivers with a minimum of 30 days in jail and a $2,500 fine. A judge may also require an ignition lock device on the driver’s private vehicle and mandatory alcohol counseling. 

Penalties for CDL holders significantly increase with repeated offenses with longer jail times, more costly fines, and permanent suspension of the commercial driver’s license.

Mandatory Employer Notification for CDL DUI

For commercial drivers convicted of driving under the influence, a mandatory employer notification standard applies. Convicted drivers must notify their employer within 30 days of the conviction, regardless of whether they were driving their commercial vehicle or personal vehicle at the time of the incident. Convicted drivers must also notify their employers of a notice of CDL suspension or revocation before the end of the day they receive the notice of suspension. This is cause for immediate job termination for the majority of transportation companies. Further, it’s important to note that states share information on DUI convictions for commercial drivers.

The penalties for a DUI conviction may have career-ending consequences for those in the transportation industry.

Commercial drivers facing DUI charges in Arizona have a lot at stake and require a strong defense to avoid a conviction. Contact a Phoenix DUI lawyer today to discuss your legal case in a free consultation at the Stewart Law Group.