California Commercial Drivers and DUI
California Vehicle Code (VC) sections 23152(a), 23152(b), 23152(d)
A "commercial driver" is someone who holds a commercial driver's license. A "commercial driver's license" is a driver's license that authorizes the license holder to operate a certain class or type of commercial vehicles. A "commercial vehicle" is any vehicle that requires the driver to hold a class A or class B driver's license, or a class C driver's license that authorizes carrying hazardous materials. The California DUI laws for commercial drivers are very strict.
California Vehicle Code 23152(a) prohibits driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs; and Vehicle Code 23152(b) prohibits driving with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 or higher. These California DUI laws apply to all drivers, regardless of age, gender, or occupation.
But for commercial drivers are held to an even stricter standard.
California Vehicle Code 23152(d) forbids commercial license holders from having a BAC of 0.04% or higher while driving a commercial vehicle. If a commercial driver is convicted of:
1. Driving a commercial vehicle with a 0.04% or greater BAC, OR
2. driving ANY vehicle while under the influence or alcohol or drugs, or with a BAC of 0.08% or greater, he/she will lose his/her commercial license for a minimum of one year...and possibly for life
There are three California DUI laws that specifically deal with commercial drivers:
1. The first is California Vehicle Code 23152 (d) which prohibits an individual from driving a commercial vehicle with a BAC of 0.04% or greater.6
2. The second is California Vehicle Code 15210 VC. This California DUI law defines "driving a commercial vehicle under the influence" as: - driving a commercial vehicle with a .04 or greater BAC, -driving a commercial vehicle in violation of California's general DUI statutes: Vehicle Code 23152(a) driving under the influence, or Vehicle Code 23152(b) driving with a BAC of 0.08% or greater, or - refusing to submit to a California chemical DUI test for blood, breath, or...when applicable...urine.
And, third, Vehicle Code 23153 (d) provides that it is illegal for an individual to drive a commercial vehicle with a BAC of 0.04% or greater while additionally either (1) acting negligently, or (2) violating a traffic law (in addition to the DUI) that results in injury to another.
Penalties If a commercial driver is convicted of a California DUI under Vehicle Code 23152(a) or 23152(b), he/she faces the same general punishment as a noncommercial driver. More information about these general DUI penalties is contained in our related article California DUI Penalties.
Depending on whether it is the driver's first or subsequent offense, standard penalties include:
• informal DUI probation,
• a maximum one-year county jail sentence,
• $390-$1,000 in fines, and
• a three to 36-month court-ordered California DUI alcohol education program.
The major difference between the penalties for a noncommercial driver and a commercial driver lies in what happens to the individual's driver's license.
Commercial drivers are not entitled to a restricted driver's license, as are non-commercial drivers convicted of DUI, and face much more severe license suspensions As previously stated, commercial drivers are held to a higher standard than are noncommercial drivers, even when they are driving a noncommercial car. A commercial driver who suffers a first time conviction for DUI, which in the case of a person with a commercial driving license means:
(1) driving any car while under the influence, (violation of Vehicle Code 23152(a))
(2) driving any car with a BAC of 0.08% or greater, (violation of Vehicle Code 23152(b))
(3) driving a commercial vehicle with a BAC of 0.04% (violation of Vehicle Code 23152(d), or
(4) driving a commercial vehicle with a BAC of 0.04% or greater and negligently causing an injury,
Of course, all other DUI laws apply such as “driving any car while under the influence and negligently causing an injury" class pursuant to Vehicle Code 23153(a).
Additionally, if the driver was driving a commercial vehicle at the time of the offense, he/she still faces a possible suspension / revocation with respect to his/her noncommercial driving privilege as well. That suspension/revocation will be enforced according to the California DUI laws that govern noncommercial driver's license suspensions / revocations. Thus, if he or she is driving a commercial vehicle and is convicted of DUI for having a BAC of greater than .08, they lose both commercial and noncommercial driving privileges, if they have both licenses.
This means that a typical first conviction will result in a six- to ten-month driver's license suspension on a commercial driver's noncommercial driving privilege. A second offense will result in a two-year license suspension, and a third offense will result in a three-year license suspension.
Finally, unlike a noncommercial driver, a commercial driver does not qualify for a restricted license...even on his/her noncommercial driving privilege.
• If you have a commercial driver’s license Contact the Lee Law Group to fight to fight your DUI.
We will fight your DUI as we fight all DUIs, and we know how to prevail.
We at the Lee Law Group will do all in our power to prevent a conviction and to prevail at your DMV hearing. Among other factors, we will investigate your ‘stop’ and the arresting officer to be sure that none of your constitutional rights were violated. Then we will investigate the equipment used to measure you blood alcohol content, (B.A.C.) to ensure they were operating correctly. Often a malfunction or a missed inspection date can win a dismissal, keeping you record clean. At this point, we will negotiate with the prosecutor from a position of strength, showing them the defects and weaknesses we have found in their case and the practical consideration that may prevent their proving your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Often times these steps will allow us to get your charges reduced, gain a case dismissal, or allow us to negotiate a plea bargain agreement that you can accept. If we are unable to negotiate a plea agreement we are willing to fight your case in court before a judge and, or jury to win that way. No matter which avenue we chose, the Lee Law Group will fight for you.