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How Drinking and Driving Can End Your CDL Career

Posted by Coleen D. St. Clair | Oct 05, 2016 | 0 Comments

If you make your living from driving, a DUI conviction will be more than just an inconvenience, expense, and embarrassment on your record. A DUI could be the end of your career. If you are the holder of a Commercial Driver's License (CDL), it is essential that you understand how a DUI conviction may impact your future. In Washington, CDL holders are held to a much stricter standard than normal drivers when it comes to driving offenses.

Offenses While Operating a Commercial Vehicle

The first thing to note for drivers with a CDL is that the legal limit for blood alcohol content (BAC) is much lower for drivers that are driving a commercial vehicle. The BAC limit for driving a personal vehicle is .08, but the BAC limit for a commercial vehicle is .04. A BAC of .04 is the equivalent of two beers for an average, 180-pound man. If you are convicted of operating a commercial vehicle under the influence, your CDL will be suspended for a year. If the DUI occurred while you were transporting hazardous materials, your CDL would be suspended for three years. If you are convicted of a second DUI while operating a commercial vehicle, your CDL will be revoked for life.

Offenses While Operating a Personal Vehicle

In Washington, a DUI arrest in your personal vehicle can also impact your commercial driving privileges. If the Department of Licensing suspends your license or you are convicted of a DUI while driving your personal vehicle, your CDL will be suspended for a year. A second personal DUI offense will also result in the lifetime revocation of your Washington CDL, making the law very strict. One reason the law is so strict is that there is no occupational or ignition interlock license for the purposes of commercial driving. CDL suspension is complete and requires re-application and testing in order to regain commercial driving privileges.

Re-Qualifying for a CDL

As long as you only have one DUI conviction, you can re-qualify for your CDL and return to work. In order to re-qualify you will need to:

  • Pass the CDL knowledge and skills test
  • Pass a separate knowledge test if you seek a hazardous materials endorsement
  • Pay a $35 re-qualification fee.

If your CDL is suspended you can appeal the decision by requesting an administrative hearing within 15-20 days of receiving the suspension and paying the $375 hearing request fee.

Washington DUI Attorney

If you have a CDL and are facing a DUI charge, you will need to carefully consider all CDL implications. Regardless of the circumstances, anyone facing charges of driving under the influence has the right to a quality legal defense. If you have been arrested in Washington State, suspected of DUI, call Coleen St. Clair at St. Clair Law Offices (206) 578-2200 or contact her online.

About the Author

Coleen D. St. Clair

Ms. St. Clair is a former senior prosecuting attorney with over 25 years experience handling criminal cases. She has successfully handled tens of thousands of criminal and DUI cases with remarkable results.


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You must be confident in the experience and ability of your attorney. Effective representation requires trust, confidence, communication and a shared goal. Your future depends on it. If you have been charged with DUI or a criminal offense in King County, Snohomish County or Pierce County, we can help. Call Seattle criminal defense firm St. Clair Law Offices today to discuss your case. 206-578-2200. Your initial consultation is free.