Every day millions of commercial vehicles travel on the roads and highways of the United States. Commercial vehicles are usually heavier and taller than the passenger cars that they share the roads with. In order to operate a commercial vehicle, an individual must have a commercial driver's license (CDL). A commercial driver's license in Georgia is defined as "a license issued in accordance with the requirements of this article to an individual which authorizes the individual to drive a class of commercial motor vehicle." Ga. Code Ann. § 40-5-142(6) (2015). A driver with a CDL can face different penalties than a driver who holds a regular driver's license if arrested or convicted of driving under the influence (DUI).
It is important for a CDL holder to be aware that they can face commercial DUI penalties even if they are not operating a commercial vehicle at the time they are arrested. As a DUI can have a significant impact on your life and your ability to earn a living, if you have a CDL, it is a good idea to contact a Hall County DUI Lawyer to defend you against DUI charges. Richard Lawson has extensive experience defending those who have been accused of driving under the influence throughout the State of Georgia. Please do not hesitate to contact his office today to discuss your case.
What Is A Commercial Vehicle?
In Georgia, "a motor vehicle designed or used to transport passengers or property" is considered to be a commercial vehicle. § 40-5-142(7). Commercial vehicles include a range of different vehicle types such as:
- Vehicles that have "a gross vehicle weight rating of 26,001 or more pounds or such lesser rating as determined by federal regulation."
- Vehicles that are "designed to transport 16 or more passengers, including the driver."
- Vehicles that transport "hazardous materials as designated under 49 U.S.C. Section 5103 and is required to be placarded in accordance with the Motor Carrier Safety Rules prescribed by the United States Department of Transportation, Title 49 C.F.R. Part 172, subpart F or is transporting any quantity of a material listed as a select agent or toxin in Title 42 C.F.R. Part 73." Id.
Commercial Drivers And DUI
If a driver operating a commercial vehicle is pulled over on suspicion of driving under the influence, the BAC threshold that he or she is subject to is different than those driving regular cars. In the State of Georgia, "[a] person shall not drive or be in actual physical control of any moving commercial motor vehicle while there is 0.04 percent or more by weight of alcohol in such person's blood, breath, or urine." § 40-6-391(i). This is 50% lower than the general legal limit in the state, which is .08. § 40-6-391(a)(5).
As previously mentioned, a CDL holder can face the same administrative penalties as a person operating a commercial vehicle while intoxicated even if the CDL holder is arrested while driving a regular, noncommercial vehicle. It is important to note, however, that if a CDL holder is driving a normal vehicle when he or she is arrested then that person is held to the same standard as other drivers. Thus, the applicable BAC limit would be .08 instead of .04.
Implied Consent And License Suspension
Implied consent laws have been adopted in some form by every state, including Georgia. Commercial drivers, like drivers of passenger vehicles, are subject to the state's implied consent law. It states:
- "Any person who drives a commercial motor vehicle anywhere in the state shall be deemed to have given consent, subject to the provisions of Code Sections 40-5-55 and 40-6-392, to a test or tests of that person's blood, breath, or urine for the purpose of determining that person's alcohol concentration or the presence of other drugs." § 40-5-153(a).
Thus, by driving on the roads and highways of Georgia, a driver has given consent to take a chemical test if he or she is suspected of driving under the influence. A driver who refuses to submit to a blood, urine, or breath test can face additional consequences, both criminal and administrative. For example, a commercial driver who refuses to take a DUI test can risk evidence of the refusal being used against them at trial as well as risk losing their license for one year. However, Hall County DUI Attorneys will thoroughly examine your case and utilize their powerful and effective resources to help build and defend your case.
License Suspension Hearings
A driver who has been charged with driving under the influence has the opportunity to request a license suspension hearing with the Georgia Department of Driver Services. It is important to be aware that the time that a driver has to make this appeal is extremely limited. A driver has only 10 business days to request a hearing to appeal his or her license suspension. Failure to comply with this time deadline can result in losing the right to contest your license suspension.
Length of License Suspension For DUI Convictions
Under Georgia law, a commercial driver can be disqualified from driving a commercial vehicle for one year after a first DUI conviction. § 40-5-151(a.1). A driver who is convicted of driving under the influence a second time can be "disqualified from driving a commercial motor vehicle for life." § 40-5-151(c). Unfortunately, the state of Georgia does not permit a person to obtain a commercial license again after a period of time if he or she has been disqualified for life.
Criminal Penalties For Commercial DUI
License suspension is just one consequence a driver who is convicted of a DUI may face. A first DUI conviction can also lead to:
- Fines: The fine could be between $300-$1000
- Jail Time: A person convicted of DUI could face a minimum of 24 hours all the way up to 12 months in prison. A common punishment is between 1-10 days behind bars.
- Community Service: A total of 40 hours of community service could be required. If the offender was under the age of 21 and had a BAC under .08 then he or she could be required to complete 20 hours of community service.
- Participation in, and completion of, a DUI Alcohol or Drug Risk Reduction Program: This must be done 120 days after a conviction or 90 days after getting out of jail.
- A clinical evaluation and treatment, if recommended
- Probation: The probation could last up to 12 months.
The first DUI is usually a misdemeanor. With each subsequent DUI conviction, the penalties increase in severity. A second DUI is a misdemeanor, a third can be an aggravated misdemeanor, and a fourth DUI is a felony charge. Hall County DUI Lawyers will take all the time necessary to determine the best strategy for your case.
Contact A DUI Defense Attorney
If you are facing a DUI charge in Hall County, you want a skilled and knowledgeable attorney to represent you and fight on your behalf. Hall County DUI Attorney Richard Lawson has been a DUI defense attorney in the state of Georgia for two decades and is dedicated to helping his clients. Contact his office today by calling (404) 816-4440 or click here to fill out the online form.