Any driving under the influence (DUI) arrest in Florida creates a series of difficult circumstances for an alleged offender, but few groups of people can have their lives as dramatically altered as the drivers of commercial vehicles. People convicted of drunk driving—even for alleged offenses in traditional passenger vehicles—can have their commercial driver licenses (CDLs) suspended or revoked, making it impossible for the alleged offenders to return to work.
In addition to the very real employment consequences, commercial DUI charges can also result in possible incarceration and steep fines. Unlike traditional drunk driving arrests in which alleged offenders need to have blood alcohol concentrations (BACs) of 0.08 or higher, the state of Florida prohibits people who have any alcohol in their systems from operating commercial vehicles and a person can be charged with commercial DUI even if he or she only has a BAC that is half the legal limit for what typically defines per se intoxication.
Are you a commercial driver who was recently arrested for an alleged drunk driving offense in South Florida? Do not say anything to authorities without legal counsel. Contact Meltzer & Bell, P.A. as soon as possible.
Lawrence Meltzer and Steven Bell are experienced criminal defense attorneys in Fort Lauderdale who represent clients facing DUI charges in Pompano Beach, Davie, Plantation, Fort Lauderdale, Pembroke Pines, Hollywood, Miramar, Coral Springs, and many surrounding areas of Broward County. Call (954) 716-8538 right now to have our lawyers provide an honest and thorough evaluation of your case during a free, confidential consultation.
Under Florida Statute § 316.003(12), a commercial motor vehicle is defined as any “self-propelled or towed vehicle used on the public highways in commerce to transport passengers or cargo, if such vehicle”:
Whereas Florida Statute § 316.193 establishes that a person is guilty of DUI if he or she is driving or in actual physical control of a vehicle within Florida and has a BAC of 0.08 or more, Florida Statute § 322.62 imposes additional restrictions for commercial vehicle operators. Florida Statute § 322.62(1) prohibits a person who has any alcohol in his or her body from driving or being in actual physical control of a commercial motor vehicle in Florida, and any violation of this section is a moving violation that can result in a commercial driver being placed out-of-service for 24 hours.
Just as the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) can disqualify drivers from operating commercial motor vehicles if they were driving any motor vehicle with a BAC of 0.04 or greater, Florida charges commercial drivers with DUI for having a BAC of 0.04 or more.
Some of the consequences of a commercial DUI offense in Florida are similar to those that result from traditional drunk driving arrests. Alleged offenders accused of commercial DUI could receive a sentence that includes any of the following punishments:
For many commercial drivers, the more daunting impact of a conviction is the effect that it can have on the status of a CDL. Commercial drivers who are convicted of DUI for driving with a BAC of 0.04 or higher, or refused to submit to testing to determine their alcohol levels, can have their CDLs suspended for at least one year with no eligibility for a hardship license. People convicted of DUI while transporting hazardous materials can have their CDLs disqualified for a minimum of three years.
A second DUI convictions will result in an alleged offender being permanently ineligible to operate a commercial motor vehicle. Again, it is important to note that commercial DUI penalties apply all CDL holders, even if the alleged drunk driving offenses did not occur in commercial vehicles.
Florida DUI and Administrative Suspension Laws | Frequently Asked Questions — On this section of the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV), you can find answers to frequently asked questions about what happens to a person’s CDL after different commercial motor vehicle violations. You can find information about CDL penalties for DUI and driving with unlawful alcohol level convictions. The website also contains information about what happens to a CDL if an alleged offender refuses a test to determine his or her alcohol level or is convicted of possessing a controlled substance.
FMCSA — The FMCSA is an agency within the United States Department of Transportation that regulates the trucking industry. Visit this website to read about different FMCSA regulations, including civil penalties, exemptions, and petitions for reconsideration. You can also find statistics, research, and answers to frequently asked questions about carrier and vehicle safety, laws and regulations, and state issues.
If you are a commercial driver who was arrested anywhere in Broward County for an alleged DUI offense, it is in your best interest to immediately seek legal representation. Meltzer & Bell, P.A. aggressively defends truck drivers all over Southern Florida, including Coconut Creek, Hallandale Beach, Wilton Manors, Sunrise, Deerfield Beach, Weston, Tamarac, Margate, and several other nearby areas.
Fort Lauderdale criminal defense lawyers Lawrence Meltzer and Steven Bell can fight to help you achieve the most favorable resolution to your case, including possibly having the criminal charges reduced or dismissed. You can have our attorneys review your case and help you understand all of your legal options when you call (954) 716-8538 or complete an online contact form to take advantage of a free initial consultation.
Click here to learn what Meltzer & Bell can do for you regarding your DUI by visiting our traffic department.