DUI lawyer

The Impact of a DUI on a CDL License in Tennessee

Driving under the influence (DUI) is a serious criminal offense that has significant consequences for anyone. For anyone holding a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL), however, the stakes are even higher. In Tennessee, the impact of a DUI on a CDL holder can be devastating, potentially affecting your livelihood and career prospects in addition to any judicial penalties imposed by the court if you are convicted. To help ensure that you know where you stand, a Murfreesboro criminal defense lawyer at Bennett | Michael | Hornsby discusses the impact of a DUI on a CDL license in Tennessee.

What Is a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL)?

A Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) is required to operate large or heavy vehicles, such as trucks and buses. Obtaining a CDL is muchDUI lawyer harder than simply getting your driver’s license. Qualifying for a CDL requires specialized training followed by rigorous testing to ensure that drivers can handle large trucks safely. CDL holders are held to higher standards than regular drivers because of the potential risks associated with operating commercial vehicles. This elevated responsibility is reflected in the stringent rules and severe penalties imposed on CDL holders.

DUI Laws for CDL Holders in Tennessee

Like most states, Tennessee has implemented strict DUI laws that apply to all motorists. Tennessee’s DUI laws are even stricter for CDL holders because of the increased danger involved in a truck driver driving while under the influence. For the general population operating with a basic driver’s license, the legal blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limit is 0.08 percent. For CDL holders, however, the law sets the BAC limit significantly lower at 0.04 percent. The lower BAC level applies whether the driver is operating a commercial vehicle or their personal vehicle at the time of the arrest.

Consequences of a DUI Arrest for a CDL Holder

If you are a CDL holder and you are arrested for a DUI in Tennessee, you face immediate and severe repercussions that include:

  • Administrative License Suspension: Upon arrest, a CDL holder’s license may be administratively suspended even before a court conviction. This suspension can last from several months to a year, depending on the circumstances.
  • Temporary Disqualification: A CDL holder arrested for DUI is often temporarily disqualified from operating a commercial vehicle. This disqualification can be extended if the driver is convicted.

If you are a CDL holder and you are ultimately convicted of a DUI, the long-term consequences are even more severe and may include:

  • Mandatory Disqualification: A first-time DUI conviction will result in a mandatory one-year disqualification from operating a commercial vehicle. If the driver was transporting hazardous materials, the disqualification period extends to three years.
  • Permanent Disqualification: A second DUI conviction results in a lifetime disqualification from holding a CDL in Tennessee. There is a possibility of reinstatement after ten years, but this is not guaranteed and depends on several factors, including the individual’s driving record and rehabilitation efforts.
  • Employment Prospects: A DUI conviction significantly impacts employment prospects for CDL holders because most commercial driving jobs require a clean driving record. Understandably, employers are often reluctant to hire someone with a DUI conviction due to the liability and insurance implications.
  • Increased Insurance Costs: CDL holders with a DUI conviction face substantially higher insurance premiums. Commercial vehicle insurance providers consider DUI convictions as high-risk, leading to increased costs which may be prohibitive for many employers.
  • Jail or Probation: If convicted of DUI in Tennessee you could face a period of incarceration or probation the length of which will depend on the circumstances of your arrest.
  • License Suspension: You could face an additional suspension if convicted in addition to the automatic license suspension that occurred upon your arrest.
  • Fines and Fees: DUI convictions come with hefty fines and fees that may be increased for a CDL holder.
  • Criminal Record: A DUI conviction results in a permanent criminal record, which can affect future employment opportunities and other aspects of your personal life.

Because a DUI conviction has far-reaching consequences for CDL holders in Tennessee it is in your best interest to seek the advice and guidance of an experienced Tennessee criminal defense attorney if you were recently arrested for DUI and you hold a CDL.

Contact a Murfreesboro Defense Attorney 

If you are a CDL holder and have been charged with DUI in Tennessee, consult with an experienced Murfreesboro criminal defense attorney at Bennett | Michael | Hornsby as soon as possible to ensure that your rights are protected. Contact the tram today by calling 615-898-1560 to schedule your free appointment.


Stan Bennett