Drinking and Driving with a Commercial Driver's License

Are CDL Drivers held to a higher standard when it comes to Drinking and Driving?

Simply put, yes.

According to Indiana Code § 9-24-6.1-6 a CDL driver can be cited for Operating a Commercial Motor Vehicle with an Elevated Alcohol Concentration for blowing at least a 0.04 but less than 0.08 grams of alcohol per 210 liters of breath.

Specifically, Indiana Code § 9-24-6.1-6 provides that “[a]n individual may not operate a commercial motor vehicle with an alcohol concentration equivalent to at least four-hundredths (0.04) gram but less than eight-hundredths (0.08) gram of alcohol per:

(1) one hundred (100) milliliters of the individual's blood;  or

(2) two hundred ten (210) liters of the individual's breath.

An individual who violates this section commits a Class C infraction.

A common misconception of CDL drivers is that they need to be in their work vehicle in order to be held to this higher standard, however that is not the case. If you have a CDL license, it doesn’t matter whether the offense took place in your work or personal vehicle. All that matters is that your blood alcohol concentration (“BAC”) is above 0.04.

That being said, as long as the CDL driver’s BAC is above 0.04 but under 0.08 the offense is considered a Class C Traffic Infraction as opposed to a Criminal Misdemeanor for Operating While Intoxicated (“OWI/DUI”). Of course, regardless of whether a person possesses a CDL, if their BAC is over 0.08 they can be charged with OWI/DUI as a Criminal Misdemeanor. If you hold a CDL and are convicted of OWI/DUI your license will become suspended.

How long can a CDL driver expect to have their license suspended if convicted of OWI/DUI?

If this is your first OWI/DUI offense as a CDL driver, you will not be able to operate a commercial vehicle requiring a CDL for one year.

If this is your second OWI/DUI offense as a CDL driver, you can expect to lose your CDL endorsement for life with the possibility of having it reinstated after 10 years.

If you are convicted of a third OWI/DUI, you will have to forfeit your CDL endorsement for life with no opportunity for reinstatement.

Would I qualify for a hardship license or specialized driving privileges?

Because CDL drivers are held to a higher standard, they are excluded from receiving a specialized driving privilege (sometimes referred to as a “hardship license”) for purpose of continuing to operate a commercial vehicle. That being said, they can obtain a specialized driving privilege to lawfully operate a non-commercial vehicle for the duration of any administrative or court imposed license suspension provided there was not a chemical test refusal.

Indiana’s OWI/DUI laws and their effects on driving privileges are complex; especially for those who possess a CDL. For CDL drivers facing an OWI/DUI charge, having a knowledgeable and experienced OWI/DUI attorney is not only a must, but their job could literally depend on it. Attorney Michael A. Campbell has extensive experience representing CDL and non-CDL licensed drivers who have been charged with an OWI/DUI. Attorney Campbell is licensed in both Indiana and Illinois and is ready to fight for your right to drive.

Call today for a FREE consultation.

*The information provided in this article applies to driver’s licensed in the State of Indiana and who have been charged with OWI/DUI in the State of Indiana.