In California, motorists who drive under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs may be charged under both California Vehicle Code § 23152(a) VC (driving while under the influence of alcohol), violating California Vehicle Code § 23152(b) VC (driving with a BAC of .08 or higher), and California Vehicle Code § 23152(f) VC (driving under the influence of drugs). When driving a commercial vehicle, California motorists are subject to stricter blood alcohol limits.
Vehicle Code § 23152 (d) applies to the act of driving a commercial vehicle while driving under the influence of alcohol. Vehicle Code 23152(d) makes it a crime to drive a commercial vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration (“BAC”) of .04% or higher. Driving a commercial vehicle such as a truck or other vehicle is a means of earning a living. A charge of DUI while driving a commercial vehicle may be life-altering since the offender risks losing the source of his or her employment, and income. Thus, it is critical that a commercial driver defends and fights a charge of DUI under § 23152(f) zealously.
The lower limit of .04% applies only when a driver is driving a commercial vehicle and a driver commits the offense regardless of whether his or her driving is truly impaired by alcohol. Conviction of DUI in California for driving any type of vehicle, commercial or non-commercial, may result in both criminal penalties and a suspension of the driver’s commercial driver’s license.
Potential penalties for commercial drivers convicted of a first-time DUI may include informal or summary probation. They may also include up to one year in county jail and up to $1,000 in fines. Defendants may receive a three to 36-month court-ordered DUI school in addition to, or instead of, these penalties. Keep in mind, penalties increase with subsequent convictions.
If convicted of DUI causing injury under California Vehicle Code § 23153 in any vehicle, a commercial driver may be charged with a felony rather than a misdemeanor and have his or her commercial driver’s license suspended.
A commercial driver convicted of any DUI will also have his or her CDL suspended for at least one year, even if the driver was not driving a commercial vehicle at the time of the offense. It will also apply if the driver is arrested for DUI and he or she refuses to take either a DUI breath test or blood test. Under both California and federal law, a driver faces the loss of a CDL for life if convicted of a second DUI.
In sum, a commercial driver will face the consequences of a DUI charged under § 23152 if arrested while driving:
- a commercial vehicle with a BAC of .04% or greater;
- a non-commercial vehicle such as a car, small truck, or motorcycle with a BAC of .08% or higher; or
- any vehicle while impaired by alcohol and/or drugs, regardless of whether BAC is below the aforementioned limits.
Any California motorist with a commercial driver’s license (CDL) who has been arrested for a DUI should contact the Dolan Law Offices immediately. Drivers who were not driving a commercial vehicle at the time of their DUI arrest are still subject to penalties under California Vehicle Code § 23152 VC. John Patrick Dolan has represented California motorists charged with DUI for over 40 years. He is a recognized California State Bar Certified Specialist in Criminal Law and a true courtroom veteran of DUI cases. Call the Dolan Law Offices today at (760) 775-3739 or find out more online here.