CDL Drivers With a DUI in Georgia
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Author: Philip Kim, Founder, Philip Kim Law, P.C.
Defense lawyer Philip Kim has committed his career to standing up for the accused, and protecting the rights and reputations of his valued clients. If you face criminal charges in Georgia, we can provide you with the skilled, effective defense representation you need.
Published on January 03, 2023.
Georgia DUI Laws for CDL Drivers
The roads across the United States are filled with millions of commercial vehicles. According to the OICA (The International Organization of Motor Vehicle Manufacturers), motor vehicles used to transport paying passengers or goods are considered commercial vehicles. These include heavy trucks, light commercial vehicles, buses, and coaches.
Drivers operating commercial vehicles must have a commercial driver’s license (CDL). Specific commercial driver’s license requirements are federally mandated, but each state is allowed to impose its own requirements.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) also holds CDL drivers to a higher standard when it comes to impaired driving. A majority of US states have implemented FMCSA regulations regarding alcohol and commercial drivers, which set a 0.04 percent BAC limit, significantly lower than the 0.08 percent legal limit for other drivers.
If convicted of driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, CDL holders can face harsher penalties than non-commercial drivers. That means a DUI can affect a commercial driver’s ability to work since license suspension is often one of the penalties for a DUI conviction.
CDL drivers with a DUI conviction can be considered a liability to their employer and a threat to public safety. That’s why reaching out to an experienced DUI lawyer can be a smart move if you are a CDL driver facing DUI charges.
Consequences of a DUI for CDL Drivers in Georgia
Georgia law (§40-5-142) defines CDL as a license issued to individuals that authorizes them to operate a commercial motor vehicle. Vehicles designed to transport 16 or more passengers, hazardous materials, or those with a gross vehicle weight of 26,001 or more pounds are considered commercial vehicles. Gross vehicle weight is the value the manufacturer specified as the maximum loaded weight.
Georgia laws also mandate that person shouldn’t be in control or driving a commercial vehicle with 0.04 % or more alcohol in the person’s blood, urine, or breath.
According to the FMCSA regulations, all individuals driving a commercial vehicle are subject to DOT drug and alcohol testing, regardless of whether they are employed full-time, part-time, or whether they are international drivers. Tests can be conducted after an accident, randomly, if there is reasonable suspicion for drunk or drugged driving, or on other occasions.
Drivers can fail a drug or alcohol test by either having a 0.04 or more alcohol content, being positive on a drug test, or refusing to submit to state-administered chemical tests.
In that case, the driver’s employer has to immediately remove that employee from performing safety-sensitive functions until they successfully complete the return-to-duty process with a DOT-qualified substance abuse professional.
What Is the Penalty for 1st DUI for CDL Drivers in Georgia?
After their first conviction of DUI, Georgia CDL drivers can face the following criminal penalties:
Minimum 24 hours and maximum a year in jail
Fines between $300 and $1,000
Community service (40 hours)
Completion of a DUI School (DUI Alcohol or Drug Risk Reduction Program)
Up to a year of probation
While typically, the first and second DUI is considered a misdemeanor offense, the third DUI conviction is a high and aggravated misdemeanor. At the same time, the fourth is a felony offense. Naturally, the penalties increase with each subsequent conviction.
If you work as a professional CDL driver, multiple DUI arrests can result in losing your job, especially if at least one of them ends in a conviction. But don’t forget, an arrest does not equal a conviction. Consult a lawyer as soon as possible after being arrested for DUI.
DUI Georgia CDL Drivers License
The first DUI conviction will result in you losing your commercial driving privileges for one year, similar to non-commercial driver’s license holders. Federal regulations state that disqualification will last for three years if the CDL driver was operating a hazmat CMV while impaired.
A certain major traffic violation besides a DUI can also result in a commercial driver’s license suspension for a year. These violations include hit-and-run accidents, vehicular homicide, failure to report an accident, as well as any felony in which commission a vehicle is used. A second DUI conviction can result in a lifetime license suspension.
If a CDL holder is convicted of any traffic violation besides a parking offense, they must notify their employer within 30 days. It doesn’t really matter what vehicle the driver was operating at the time of the accident. For instance, if a truck driver was convicted of driving under the influence in their personal vehicle off duty, they also have to notify their employer. If the offense resulted in a license suspension, their employer can’t rehire them until the suspension is over.
Insurance for CDL Drivers With DUI in Georgia
In Georgia, drivers convicted of DUI must obtain SR-22 car insurance, a special type of high-risk liability insurance. If the Georgia Department of Driver Services (DDS) gets a report from the insurance company that provided the SR-22 for any reason, the state has the right to impose a license suspension.
High insurance premiums after a DUI are another downfall. Even worse, some insurance companies may simply drop the coverage of these drivers since they are not worth the risk.
Which States Prohibit DUI CDL Drivers?
In addition to setting a 0.04 percent blood-alcohol concentration limit, FMCSA regulations stipulate that a commercial driver can’t drive a commercial vehicle within four hours of consuming alcohol.
While most U.S. states have adopted these rules, some treat drunk driving harsher than others. It is considered that Michigan has some of the toughest CDL DUI laws, followed by Utah and Arizona.
On the other hand, certain studies suggest that Connecticut and Alaska should also be counted among the states with the strictest DUI laws, while North Dakota and Pennsylvania can be considered as the states with lenient DUI laws.
How Can an Attorney Help CDL Drivers After a Georgia DUI?
Drivers charged with DUI may feel like all hope is lost, especially if that is not their first offense. However, a DUI attorney well-versed in the DUI process may know how to craft a winning DUI defense. That can include participation in DUI Court, challenging results of an alcohol test, or other procedural issues.
Since your employment may be at stake, you shouldn’t fight this battle alone. Reach out to Philip Kim Law, P.C., to book a free consultation so we can discuss your case’s circumstances.