Commercial Drivers and Richmond DUI Charges

If an individual is charged with DUI while operating a commercial vehicle, prosecutors will be very vigorous in their pursuit of a conviction and the judges can be particularly harsh in imposing a sentence. There’s an understanding among the judges and the prosecutors that CDL drivers are held to a higher level of responsibility for operating commercial vehicles in the state of Virginia, so harder requirements and harder sentences are commonly given for DUIs.

As a result, if you are a commercial driver and you are charged with a DUI it is important you consult with a Richmond DUI lawyer as soon as possible to discuss your case and begin building a defense.

Impact of a DUI Charge on a CDL Holder

In Virginia, if you’re charged with a DUI, your CDL will be suspended immediately pending the outcome of the case. In many cases, an employer will also take punitive action against an individual who has been charged until the case is resolved. If the individual is convicted of a first offense DUI, they will be disqualified from using their driving CDL vehicle for a minimum of one year.

How Will a DUI Charge With No Conviction Affect a CDL Driver?

If they’re charged and not convicted they’ll typically be able to retain their CDL and they may be able to retain their ability to work. However, this depends on the outcome of the case. If the case is dismissed outright, in many cases an individual can get reinstated for their CDL. A great deal of their ability to return to work will depend on their particular employer. If the case is reduced to a reckless driving charge or a lower charge, but it still comes with a license suspension, their CDL may still be significantly impacted.

Consequences of a DUI Conviction On a CDL Holder

If convicted of a DUI, a CDL driver will be disqualified from using their CDL for a minimum of one year, but sentences can often be longer. Many employers will not insure or employ a CDL driver who has been convicted of a DUI even several years after being sentenced.

What Are The Long Term Implications of a DUI Conviction?

The long-term implications for a DUI on a CDL holder can be severe. For the first offense, an automatic one year minimum disqualification will be imposed.  However, a disqualification will often last longer than that.  For a second or subsequent DUI offense, a lifetime disqualification will be given.

If it’s a second or subsequent offense, you would be declared ineligible to operate a CDL under Virginia law. If your profession requires you to have a CDL, you would lose your job. You can attempt to petition that ruling, but in most cases you will not be qualified. Furthermore, insurance companies will not insure a CDL driver with one DUI or more.

Are CDL Holders Held to a Higher Standard in Court?

Yes, CDL drivers are held to a much higher standard in court. The courts impose a greater responsibility on CDL drivers because driving is their source of employment. Additionally, in many cases, CDL drivers can be hauling items that could be toxic or dangerous should there be an accident or a spill due to drug- or alcohol-induced intoxication. The vehicles that CDL drivers typically drive also have the capacity to cause serious damage to other vehicles should there be an issue of driving while impaired.

What Can An Attorney Do To Help CDL Holders Charged With DUI?

What an attorney can attempt to do for a CDL driver charged with DUI is try to get the charge reduced or dismissed. The goal would be to save the individual’s job and to save their license long term if the charge can be dismissed. If an attorney can get the charge reduced, there may be no CDL disqualification or at least a limited one compared to the penalties for a DUI conviction.

Additionally, in some cases an attorney can petition the court to either release the license or negotiate with an employer, but in most cases, a license will be suspended for a DUI conviction.