Getting charged with driving under the influence (more commonly called a DUI) is a major deal. A variety of consequences come your way if you’re caught driving with too much alcohol or drugs in your system. Your driver’s license is suspended, the charge appears on your criminal record, and you get hit with fees. You risk your current employment and future job opportunities, and being intoxicated behind the wheel puts drivers and bystanders around you at risk. This can lead to even more jail time even if you don’t end up crashing your car.
However, if you’re a truck driver, you face even tougher penalties. Being charged with a DUI will affect your ability to make a living, and the laws of different states will determine how much time you’ll see. Here are some extra repercussions that truck drivers face for a DUI charge.
Losing Your Commercial Driving License
One risk that truck drivers face when charged with driving under the influence is the suspension of their Commercial Driver’s License (CDL). This license is required to operate not only the largest type of commercial motor vehicle (CMV), but many of the largest vehicles in general. The suspension is automatic, and you don’t even have to be driving your CMV while under the influence in order for this to happen. In states like California, a commercial driver has their license suspended if they violate the state’s DUI laws while driving a regular car.
It’s hard enough to obtain this license, as anyone who intends to drive trucks for a living must pass random drug and alcohol tests on a regular basis. Being prepared for getting tested before and after you drive your truck won’t be enough. Rules established by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) state that commercial drivers can even be tested for driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol during a drive. If you are suspected of driving under the influence when pulled over, refusing to have your breath, blood, or urine tested can land you in even bigger trouble, depending on the state. Doing so can get you a DUI charge, although refusing to take a DUI test is a bad idea no matter where you operate.
It’s common for people to lose their jobs if their bosses find out that they were charged with a DUI. And since this entire profession involves driving, and doing so with a specific license, your chances of finding new employment can be even slimmer.
Facing Prison Time
Truck driving comes with added risks due to the nature of the job, which requires transporting heavy loads of material across long distances. This puts the truck driver, as well as fellow drivers and bystanders, at a greater risk of getting injured or killed in an accident. Even if the worst that anyone suffers in an accident are minor injuries, some states have laws that make it illegal to drive commercial vehicles with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of at least 0.04 percent while ignoring or violating traffic laws.
Being charged with a DUI lands you in jail for up to six months on your first offense in all states, and it’s classified as a misdemeanor. However, events which transpired while you drove under the influence may affect the length of your prison time. The injuries or death of others involved in any accident you caused while driving under the influence can lead to a sentencing of anywhere between a few years and over a decade. This appearing on your criminal record can make it even harder for you to find work once you leave prison, no matter the field.
High Financial Costs
If you’re involved in an accident while driving a truck under the influence and everyone involved escapes in one piece, you’ll still have to deal with consequences which can put a huge dent in your wallet. There’s the cost of physical recovery, which can vary depending on the extent of your injuries. Whether it’s a broken bone, internal injury, or concussion, hospital bills are expensive. Repairs to your truck will also cost plenty of money, although there are organizations that offer truck repair shop software in order to speed up the fixing process and help your truck avoid damage in the future.
The costs of court cases won’t be any easier to avoid, especially if other people suffered injuries or had their vehicles damaged. Even if the DUI charge is your only problem, penalties can include fines that range from $500 to over $1,000. In this case, you should hire a DUI attorney to avoid as many penalties and convictions as possible. These lawyers can look at the situation if you’ve been wrongly charged and find evidence of your innocence, which will help you keep your CDL and job. Your attorney should also be able to represent you out-of-state if you get charged in a different state, as well as know someone who can represent you there if it’s not in their jurisdiction.
Keep these repercussions in mind so that you stay clear of alcohol and drugs, keep your CDL, and enjoy a long career as a truck driver.