Commercial Driver DUI Defense Attorney in Virginia
Operating a commercial motor vehicle (CMV) is significantly more dangerous and complicated than driving a standard passenger car. As a result, driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol and drugs is much riskier behind the wheel of a CMV. Virginia law imposes harsh penalties on commercial drivers convicted of DUI.
If you face DUI charges as a CDL driver in Virginia, your livelihood and ability to support yourself and those you love are on the line. You need an experienced attorney who can protect your rights and establish a strong case in your defense.
What Is a Commercial DUI?
A commercial DUI occurs any time a driver with a commercial driver’s license (CDL) operates a CMV while under the influence of alcohol or other intoxicating substances.
Virginia Drunk Driving Laws for Commercial Drivers
Virginia has two main drunk driving laws for commercial drivers who operate within the state.
The first is § 46.2-341.24 of the Virginia legal code. This section makes it unlawful for CDL drivers to operate a motor vehicle if:
- They have a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 percent or more.
- They are under the influence of alcohol.
- They are under the influence of a narcotic drug, a self-administered intoxicant, or any other drug or combination of drugs that impair safe driving abilities.
- They are under the influence of a combination of alcohol and drugs that impair safe driving abilities.
- They have a blood concentration of 0.02 mg/L of cocaine, 0.01 mg/L of methamphetamine, 0.01 mg/L of PCP, or 0.01 mg/L of MDMA (ecstasy).
This law stipulates that operating a CMV in Virginia with a BAC of 0.04 percent or more is also unlawful but is considered a “lesser included offense.”
Keep in mind that under regulations imposed by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), a BAC of 0.04 is the federal legal limit for CDL drivers. That means the lower limit of 0.04 applies to any Virginia drivers involved in interstate operations.
CDL drivers who operate exclusively in Virginia are guilty of a lesser offense if convicted of driving with a BAC of up to 0.04. The stiffest penalties only apply to intrastate CDL drivers convicted of driving with a BAC of 0.08 or more.
Finally, § 46.2-341.31 of the Virginia legal code specifies that driving a CMV with any amount of alcohol in the bloodstream is unlawful. CDL drivers who are found to have driven a CMV with alcohol in their blood can be held guilty of traffic infractions.
Legal Limit for Commercial Drivers in Virginia
The legal BAC limit for CDL drivers in Virginia is 0.08 percent, though operating a CMV with any amount of alcohol in the bloodstream can result in legal penalties.
Virginia Penalties for CDL DUI
Possible penalties for a CDL driver convicted of DUI in Virginia can vary considerably depending on the severity of the offense.
A CDL driver convicted of driving a CMV within the Commonwealth of Virginia with a BAC of 0.04 or more is considered guilty of a Class 3 misdemeanor. The penalty for conviction is a fine of up to $500.
A CDL driver convicted of driving a CMV in Virginia with a BAC of 0.08 or while under the influence of any combination of alcohol or drugs that impair driving ability is considered guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor. Penalties for a conviction can vary based on the level of intoxication and the driver’s history of previous offenses:
- First offense – Mandatory minimum fine of $250.
- Second offense within five years – Mandatory minimum fine of $500 plus a minimum of 20 days and up to one year of jail time.
- Second offense within five to 10 years – Mandatory minimum fine of $500 plus a minimum of 10 days and up to one month of jail time.
- Third offense within 10 years – Mandatory minimum of 90 days jail time. If three violations occur within five years, the mandatory minimum is six months’ jail time plus a minimum fine of $1,000.
- Fourth and subsequent offense within 10 years – Mandatory minimum fine of $1,000 and a minimum of one year’s jail time.
- If the driver’s BAC was between 0.15 and 0.20 – Mandatory minimum of five days’ additional jail time and a minimum $500 fine for first-time offenses and a minimum of 10 days’ additional jail time for second offenses within 10 years.
- If the driver’s BAC exceeded 0.20 – Mandatory minimum of 10 days’ additional jail time and a minimum $500 fine for first-time offenses and a minimum of 20 days’ additional jail time for second offenses within 10 years.
In addition to fines and jail time, any CDL driver convicted of DUI in Virginia is disqualified from operating a CMV or any other vehicle for at least one year. If the driver was transporting hazardous materials at the time, they are disqualified from operating a CMV for three years. Any Virginia CDL driver who receives a second DUI conviction can be disqualified for life.
Reinstating a Commercial Driver’s License After a Virginia DUI
If you were convicted of a first-time DUI as a CDL driver in Virginia, you might be eligible to have your CDL reinstated after the minimum waiting period if you:
- Pay all fines and court costs related to the conviction.
- Pay any reinstatement fees as necessary.
- Complete an Alcohol Safety Action Program.
- Retake CDL knowledge and driving skills tests.
- Complete a hazardous substances knowledge test.
If you receive a second or subsequent CDL DUI conviction, you are considered disqualified for life. However, a criminal defense attorney can help you explore options for reinstatement, such as filing an administrative review request.
CDL DUI FAQs
Here are some general answers to some frequently asked questions about CDL DUIs in Virginia:
Can you get a CDL with a DUI in Virginia?
If you have a DUI on your record, it won’t necessarily prevent you from obtaining a CDL. However, once you have your CDL, a DUI can make finding a job in the commercial trucking industry challenging.
I got a DUI in my personal vehicle. Will that affect my CDL in Virginia?
Yes. Even if you receive a DUI while driving off-duty in your personal vehicle, a conviction will result in a CDL disqualification period of 60 days to life, depending on the severity of the offense.
Talk to a Virginia Commercial DUI Defense Lawyer for Help Today
Do you have a commercial driver’s license? Were you arrested on suspicion of DUI in Virginia? If so, contact an experienced Virginia commercial DUI defense attorney at Upton Law, PLLC, right away for help. Your livelihood might be on the line, so reach out online to get the qualified legal representation you need.