A conviction for driving under the influence (DUI) can be costly in financial, emotional, and practical terms for anyone. If you hold a commercial driver’s license (CDL), however, the negative ramifications of a DUI conviction are amplified. To help you understand, a Murfreesboro DUI attorney at Bennett | Michael | Hornsby explains what happens to your CDL license if you get a DUI in Tennessee.
Driving Under the Influence in Tennessee
Governed by Tennessee Code §55-10-401 driving under the influence in Tennessee is defined as driving a motor vehicle while:
- Under the influence of any intoxicant, marijuana, controlled substance, controlled substance analogue, drug, substance affecting the central nervous system, or combination thereof that impairs the driver’s ability to safely operate a motor vehicle by depriving the driver of the clearness of mind and control of oneself that the driver would otherwise possess. OR
- The alcohol concentration in the person’s blood or breath is eight-hundredths of one percent (.08 %) or more.
This definition of DUI in Tennessee, however, applies to a motorist who holds a regular (Class D) driver’s license. If you hold a commercial driver’s license, you can be charged with driving under the influence for operating a vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of just .04 percent.
What Are the Potential Penalties and Consequences of a DUI Conviction If I Have a CDL?
If you are convicted of driving under the influence in Tennessee, you face the following potential penalties regardless of the type of license you hold:
- Up to 11 months and 29 days in jail
- A fine of up to $1,500
- A driver’s license suspension of up to a year.
- Mandatory participation in an alcohol and drug treatment program
If you operate a commercial vehicle, meaning you hold a CDL, and you are convicted of DUI in Tennessee, you face additional penalties above and beyond those faced by other motorists. A first-time DUI conviction will cause you to be disqualified to hold a CDL license for a year. If you were transporting hazardous materials at the time you were arrested for driving under the influence, you face a three-year period of disqualification. If you are convicted of a second DUI, regardless of what type of commercial vehicle you were driving at the time, you will be disqualified for a minimum of 10 years up to a maximum of life from holding a CDL.
While operating a commercial vehicle at the time of a DUI arrest can make the circumstances worse, the fact that you were driving your own personal vehicle when you were arrested for DUI does not protect you from the mandatory CDL suspension rules. Likewise, refusing to submit to a chemical test won’t help as a refusal will result in a one-year suspension of your CDL as well.
Finally, because the trucking industry is governed by federal law, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration requires that all commercial motor vehicle convictions, and convictions for drivers who are issued a commercial driver’s license, be reported within 10 days of the date of conviction.
What Should I Do If I Have a CDL and I Was Arrested for DUI in Tennessee?
For someone who makes a living as a commercial driver, a DUI conviction will have a significant, and long-lasting, negative impact. Even after the automatic suspension is lifted it may be difficult to find employment. The good news is that it may be possible to prevent a conviction. Consulting with an experienced DUI defense attorney right away is the key to protecting yourself and your future if you were charged with DUI and you hold a commercial driver’s license.
Contact a Murfreesboro DUI Attorney
If you have been charged with driving under the influence in Tennessee and you hold a CDL, it is in your best interest to consult with a Murfreesboro DUI attorney at Bennett | Michael | Hornsby as soon as possible. Contact the team today by calling 615-898-1560 to schedule your free appointment.
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