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Commercial DUI Regulations and the Penalties in Florida

On Behalf of | Jan 24, 2020 | Criminal Defense, DUI

If you drive commercially and have a commercial driver’s license (CDL), then you should know that you’re held to a higher driving standard than other regular drivers. This is why you must pay attention to the commercial DUI regulations and see a personal injury and criminal defense lawyer.

Ideally, commercial drivers shouldn’t be using any drug or taking any alcohol behind the wheels. This is why it’s not just enough to get the CDL, you must also familiarize yourself with the rules.

As a rule, avoid drinking or taking drugs whilst driving. The idea behind this is simple: these substances tend to interfere with your driving, no thanks to the cognitive impairment.

Commercial DUI Regulations

According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), 4,564 fatalities were caused by large trucks and buses in 2016. And 12 percent of all traffic fatalities are caused by these vehicles. The state of Florida is in the top 10 list of states with the highest large vehicle-related fatalities.

2017 report released by the same FMCSA showed that 252 drivers involved in fatal accidents tested positive for drugs. Alcohol also played a role in 15 percent of large truck-related accidents and deaths.

This is why states are actively cracking down on commercial drivers, as they pose a huge risk to other road users. Drivers who suffer from any impairment cannot be driving heavy rigs across state lines and within the state too.

CDL DUI Regulations in Florida

The state of Florida has an almost zero tolerance for commercial drivers who drink before, or during their trips. In fact, the laws are tough on all motorists within the state, but more so with commercial drivers. As long as you have a CDL, you best believe that the state applies a more rigorous standard to your driving.

This is because the size of the vehicle is often a contributory factor to terrible accidents, which often involve a lot of casualties. Therefore, even though the state has a 0.08% BAC limit for all motorists, commercial drivers are limited to no more than 0.04%.

Yes, that’s half the limits of the regular driver in the state. This lower limit is because heavy rigs, trucks, and buses often require more mental alertness, physical strength and control.

But, that’s not often the only reason for getting charged with breaking commercial DUI regulations. Florida’s law enforcement agents will arrest a commercial driver if they find evidence of impairment, notwithstanding the BAC limit.

This is why the state regulations clearly indicate that no commercial driver should get behind the wheels within 4 hours of drinking alcohol.

Unfortunately, “impairment” is a subjective term and one that often depends on the law enforcement’s assessment of your general state at the time.

In general, you can be arrested and charged with flouting commercial DUI regulations and laws if:

  • Your eyes aren’t focused when you’re interviewed by law enforcement
  • You failed the field sobriety test designed to make sure you weren’t inebriated
  • They smell alcohol on your breath or in the truck
  • Your words are slurred
  • There are indications of the presence of alcohol

When is a Drug and Alcohol Test Necessary?

If law enforcement suspects the presence of illegal substances and/or alcohol, they’ll administer drug and alcohol tests right after an accident –usually at the scene of the accident.

Also, if a commercial driver has been cited and convicted on drunk driving charges, they can be tested too. Tests can be carried out randomly as done in many private companies. These random drug and alcohol tests are great for keeping drivers clean while on the job.

Companies can also carry out alcohol and drug testing as part of its hiring policies. This way, they’ll be able to screen their employees and reduce the odds of an alcoholic joining their workforce.

Skilled Dui Attorney

While law enforcement is mandated to carry out these spot checks and field tests, commercial drivers can refuse to take the tests. However, this comes with very severe repercussions. Your refusal to take a test is often considered a tacit admission of guilt.

Commercial DUI Regulations – Consequences of Driving Drunk in Florida

So, what happens when you’re found guilty of breaking commercial DUI regulations in Florida or any other state?

Well, the first thing the state does is suspend your commercial driving license. Unfortunately, because you’re held to a higher standard, the suspension is usually longer than that of a regular motorist who is convicted of a similar case.

This means it’ll affect your means of livelihood, as you won’t be able to find work for the duration of that period.

Can You Drive a Regular Vehicle with a DUI?

While you may be able to drive a regular car, you won’t be able to do it commercially. And if you decide to do side gigs like Uber/Lyft, you have to make sure you don’t get pulled over by law enforcement. Most of the time though, a commercial driver’s license suspension indirectly affects your regular driving license.

In fact, if you get a DUI charge while driving off duty in your private vehicle, you’re mandated to inform your employer within 30 days of the conviction.

Should You Hire Lawyers Experienced in Commercial DUI Cases?

Yes. Whether you’re guilty or not, just hire one, particularly if there were serious consequences like severe personal injury or fatalities.

More specifically, hire lawyers who have cognate experience in commercial DUI regulations like Kibbey | Wagner. Our lawyers are better suited to handling your case, than a regular personal injury lawyer without their kind of experience.

An experienced DUI lawyer will be able to provide solid information as well as give legal advice. We’ll be able to provide a solid guide on what you need to do if you’re guilty of flouting commercial DUI regulations.

At the end of the day, you need to be extra careful with your driving and personal habits while on the job. Alcohol and illicit drugs are not your best friend when you have to drive long distances. You need to stay clean and mentally sharp.

If you need more information or legal help with a commercial DUI regulation issue, get in touch with us at Kibbey | Wagner today. Our lawyers are trained to help get the best possible results. Call us at (772) 444-7000, and let’s see how we can help.