Drunk driving is illegal for anyone on public roads. However, there are certain individuals who face harsher penalties and stricter rules than other drivers. Commercial drivers undergo extra training so that they can obtain a commercial driver’s license (CDL) that allows them to legally operate an 18-wheeler or similar commercial vehicles.
In addition to more educational requirements than the average driver, commercial drivers also have to comply with stricter rules about their behavior at the wheel. How are the drunk driving laws stricter for those that have commercial licenses?
The legal limit is half as high
State law establishes a per se limit for blood-alcohol concentration (BAC). Even without any evidence of poor driving habits, a breath test showing a BAC over the legal limit will usually result in a drunk driving arrest.
For the average person, the legal limit for their BAC is 0.08%. However, the law is more strict for those operating a commercial vehicle. Someone pulled over while driving a commercial vehicle only needs to produce 0.04% BAC results on their breath test to face arrest.
Given how much more skill it takes to competently control a commercial vehicle, the government expects drivers to maintain a much lower BAC when driving professionally. Drivers may not realize that they are dangerously close to the cut-off because there won’t be signs of impairment like there would be with a BAC closer to 0.08%.
Off-the-clock behavior can affect your work
For most professionals in a closely-regulated industry, only their behavior in a professional capacity will have a direct impact on their licensing or future prospects. However, driving in your personal vehicle can affect your CDL.
Too many minor traffic tickets could make someone ineligible. Even a single impaired driving charge in your personal vehicle will make you ineligible for commercial driving work. A drunk driving offense in your own vehicle will also impact how much it costs to insure you. Even when you are able to go back to work, you may not be able to return to the same job or commands the same pay because of the prior infraction on your record.
Learning about how drunk driving charges affect those with commercial licenses can help you protect your career and your income.