A commercial driver is a person who operates any vehicle that requires a Commercial Driver's License. Many commercial drivers own and operate large trucks, hauling goods across the state of Illinois or even across the country. They are a necessity, as America relies on their services to transport goods all over the country. However, proper licensing, regular medical checkups, and proper training for these individuals are essential because lives could be in danger if they drive recklessly or avoid safety regulations.
All commercial driver's license (CDL) holders must adhere to federal guidelines, which include being subjected to many strict rules regarding commercial vehicle operations. These rules apply to all CDL holders, including guidelines that govern how legal procedures and the repercussions of any violations are handled.
The penalties for a commercial driver who has been found guilty of drunk driving are severe. Among the most severe penalties for commercial drivers is losing their license, which prevents them from earning the necessary income to support themselves and their families. Because livelihoods are at stake, it's important that commercial drivers who are arrested or charged with intoxicated driving be defended by a Chicago DUI defense lawyer.
What are the Criminal Penalties for a CDL DUI in Chicago?
For people with a CDL, the penalties that are incurred when they're convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs are different than the penalties other drivers face. The legal consequences they can expect include receiving restrictions regarding their license, fees, fines, and jail sentences.
If a commercial driver receives a first-time DUI charge, they will first face a potential license suspension of one year. If the individual is responsible for driving hazardous materials, however, they could experience as much as three years before regaining their driving privileges.
According to Illinois laws, CDL holders who are convicted of driving under the influence (DUI) within a certain time period (within 5 years) can be charged with a second-time DUI. Repeated DUIs that occur beyond this period may cause fines, jail time, and the suspension of both your commercial driver's license as well as your driving privileges. It is important to remember that you can still seek help from an alcohol awareness program to have your privileges reinstated after ten years or so.
If you or someone you know was recently suspended from driving for an alcohol-related violation, then there is a chance that your insurance company may raise your premiums. A suspended license can affect a professional driver's career in a number of ways. Getting behind the wheel while intoxicated could put you at risk of getting fired from your job, and having this criminal charge on your record could hurt your chances of being hired again by another company even after your suspension period has lapsed.
In addition to being required to join a DUI diversion class and pay fines, there will be several outcomes for having DWI on your record. First of all, the enhanced penalties cover any diagnosed alcoholic, not just truck drivers. Further, the judge does not have to determine a truck driver's employment status (does one drive for work) for the enhanced penalties to apply if convicted.
CDL Holders and Implied Consent in Chicago
Even the Illinois implied consent laws are far stricter for commercial drivers. The state of Illinois mandates that all travelers who operate motor vehicles on public roadways give their consent for a chemical blood alcohol concentration test, including breath or blood testing via an arresting officer if arrested on suspicion of driving while intoxicated. As part of the implied consent law, refusing to take an alcohol blood test will result in an automatic license suspension.
Learn More: What are the costs of a DUI in Illinois?
If the driver has a commercial license, the consequences of this type of violation are much more severe. Non-commercial drivers will have their licenses suspended automatically and they may choose to appeal that suspension, but CDL holders have a choice between going through an appeal process or having their CDL revoked as punishment for refusing a breath test. This means that when a CDL holder is caught driving with a BAC over .08%, his or her career as a truck driver could be over if he/she is too intoxicated for work.
How Can an Attorney Build a Defense Against a DUI?
When it comes to drunk driving charges, the simplest way to protect your legal rights, interests, and future is to seek help from an experienced and aggressive DUI criminal defense lawyer. A good Chicago DUI lawyer can fight for you in Illinois and offer real solutions that could prevent the DUI label from affecting your professional future in a negative way - whether it means minimizing the effects of a DUI conviction or facing less severe penalties.
Luckily, if you have been faced with a charge of drunk driving and have a CDL, standard DUI defenses can still apply in your case. These include:
- Lack of probable cause for the traffic stop
- Manipulated or incorrectly administered field sobriety tests
- Inaccurate, poorly-administered, broken, or miscalibrated sobriety/blood alcohol content test
- Violation of Fourth Amendment rights
If you can successfully argue that a police officer did not follow proper procedure during your stop, you can have the evidence against you thrown out. This means the prosecutor won't be able to use it in their case against you and greatly reduces your chances of being convicted for driving under the influence.
Learn More: How can a DUI lawyer help with your case?
Furthermore, experienced lawyers can defend your driver's license and help protect you from getting charged for driving under suspension. Their knowledge can benefit individuals who depend on their commercial driver’s licenses to keep their livelihoods.
Contact Our Skilled Cook County DUI Criminal Defense Lawyers Today for Legal Advice!
The DUI criminal defense attorneys at Chicago DUI Defense law firm are extremely skilled at defending CDL holders in DuPage County, Cook County, Kane County, Kendall County, and throughout Chicago. If you have been arrested for driving while drunk on a commercial driver's license, then contact our experienced lawyers at 312-800-1626.