Commercial DUI in Philadelphia

Commercial motorists are held to substantially higher standards than their non-commercial counterparts. This high standard is reinforced by Pennsylvania legislation, which lowers the legal blood alcohol content limit for drivers who have obtained a CDL (commercial driver's license) and are operating a commercial vehicle. For CDL drivers, being stopped under the suspicion of driving under the influence puts them at serious risk of losing their jobs and jeopardizing their future in the commercial driving industry. A DUI conviction for a CDL holder pretty much solidifies the end of a career that took lots of hard work, time and skill to maintain.

This is why it's imperative for drivers who have been charged with driving under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol in the state of Pennsylvania to consult with an experienced legal professional. With the help of an attorney, the likelihood of receiving a favorable outcome in court will be significantly increased. However, in order to determine what you're up against, it's important to understand the unique laws and penalties that the state has in place for commercial drivers who acquire DUIs.

Pennsylvania DUI Laws for Commercial Drivers

Pennsylvania has relatively strict laws pertaining to commercial drivers. According to statutory law, CDL holders in the state could risk their livelihood for the decisions that they make while operating their commercial vehicle and while driving their personal vehicle. State DUI laws prohibit commercial drivers from doing the following:

  • Operating a commercial vehicle with a BAC of 0.04% or higher
  • Operating a non-commercial vehicle with a BAC of 0.08% or higher

Since CDL holders typically have two licenses - their CDL license and their personal authorized state driver's license - it is possible for both of them to be suspended simultaneously. However, the likelihood of this outcome depends solely on the nature of the DUI charge and the penalties associated with this charge. 

Implied Consent Law

CDL holders must also abide by the state's implied consent law. This law requires licensed residents to take a blood, breath, or urine test if they are arrested under the suspicion that they have been driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. As long as an officer believes beyond a reasonable doubt that a person is driving impaired, he or she can request that you take a chemical test. A refusal to comply with this request warrants harsh repercussions. A violation of Pennsylvania's implied consent law may result in a one-year license suspension for a first offense. Subsequent offenses result in an 18-month license suspension.

DUI Penalties for Commercial Drivers

Pennsylvania has strict DUI penalties that specifically target commercial vehicle drivers. If a CDL holder is found to have a BAC over the state's legal limit of .04%, it is treated as a “high rate” DUI. Therefore, commercial drivers convicted of this offense will be facing mandatory jail time, even for a first offense. The following list contains penalties that are generally enforced upon commercial drivers when they acquire a DUI offense:

First DUI Offense

  • Up to six months in jail
  • A fine up to $5,000
  • Person driver's license suspension for at least one year
  • Commercial driver's license suspension for at least one year
  • Highway safety school
  • Complete a drug and alcohol treatment program

Second DUI Offense (within 10 years of a prior offense)

  • Up to five years in jail
  • A fine up to $10,000
  • Highway safety school
  • Person driver's license suspension for 18 months
  • Lifetime ban of CDL
  • Installation of ignition interlock device
  • Complete a drug and alcohol treatment program
  • Community service

Third DUI Offense and subsequent offenses (within ten years of a prior offense)

  • Up to 5 years in prison
  • A fine up to $10,000
  • Personal driver's license suspension for 18 months
  • Installation of ignition interlock device
  • Complete a drug and alcohol treatment program
  • Community service

It's important to note that once a commercial driver has been convicted of a DUI, it will permanently be put on his or her driving record for potential employers to see. Finding meaningful work in the commercial driving industry after being convicted of a DUI is incredibly difficult, especially since employers prefer to hire drivers with a clean record to minimize their overall liability.

Experienced Philadelphia DUI Defense Attorney

An untainted driving record is crucial in order for commercial motorists to sustain a thriving and successful career in the commercial driving industry. A DUI conviction on a motorist's record could cost drivers large sums of money, time and more importantly, their livelihood. If you are a CDL holder who has been arrested and charged with a DUI, it is imperative you consult with a knowledgeable and experienced attorney to protect your rights. Remember, a DUI charge does not guarantee a conviction, and it certainly doesn't mean that you have to plead guilty. The right attorney will help you weigh your options and aim to put this incident behind you so you can get back on the road. Contact LLF Law Firm today.

Contact Us Today!

The LLF Law Firm Team has decades of experience successfully resolving clients' criminal charges in Philadelphia and the Pennsylvania counties. If you are having any uncertainties about what the future may hold for you or a loved one, contact the LLF Law Firm today! Our Criminal Defense Team will go above and beyond the needs of any client, and will fight until the final bell rings.

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