A commercial driver's license suspension can affect your ability to make a living and support your family. You will have limited time to request a Department of Motor Vehicles hearing to challenge the suspension. Additionally, you may have your license suspended for life if you are sentenced for a second DUI offense or subsequent offense. If your driving privileges have been revoked, get in touch with us at The Law Offices of Ross Howell Sobel immediately. We represent commercial motorists throughout San Fernando Valley and Los Angeles in DUI or DMV related cases.
DUI Laws and Commercial Driver's License
Under Vehicle Code Section 23152(d) VC, it is illegal for a commercial motorist in California to drive their commercial vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration that exceeds .04 percent.
The commercial motorist will face severe consequences if sentenced for violating DUI law. Circumstances that result in DUI penalties include:
Driving Under the Influence
You are considered to be under the influence when:
- Your physical and mental abilities are impaired, and
- You are not in a position to operate your car with the attention of a sober driver in similar circumstances.
Your Blood Alcohol Content is Above the Legal Limit
You are considered to be driving above the legal limit when:
- You drive your commercial motor vehicle with a BAC that exceeds 0.04 percent, or
- You drive any other car with a BAC greater than 0.08 percent.
Please note, these stringent legal limits apply irrespective of whether alcohol has impaired your driving or not.
Vehicles Needing Commercial Driver's License
California classifies its licenses by class and commercial and non-commercial purposes. There are two categories of commercial vehicles, namely:
- Class B. A holder of this license is supposed to drive a vehicle with at least three axles weighing six thousand pounds when empty and a single-vehicle weighing above twenty-six thousand pounds. The license permits the motorist to pull a trailer weighing less than ten thousand pounds.
- Class C. Class C license is required for vehicles below twenty-six thousand pounds and trailers under ten thousand pounds. To drive a Class C vehicle, you should acquire a commercial driver endorsement. They include vehicles such as school buses, farm vehicles, tank vehicles, and passenger vehicles, which carry more than ten passengers, including the motorists.
It is worth noting that a recreational vehicle and an agricultural car driven by a driver who isn't required to get a driver's license are not commercial vehicles.
Common Reasons Why Your CDL Can be Suspended
Vehicle Code Section 23152(d) has several regulations concerning the obligations of drivers as well as administrative penalties and consequences. One of the penalties is the suspension of driver's license whose terms vary depending on the underlying reason, including:
Refusal to Take a Chemical Test
Following your arrest, you can't refuse to submit to a chemical test without a consequence (California implied law). The law applies even though you have already taken a preliminary alcohol screening (PAS) test.
In other words, a defendant is not entitled to refuse a post-arrest chemical test because they believe they were wrongly arrested. However, if the judge later discovers that their arrest or traffic stop was unlawful, the case will be dismissed, even if the chemical test shows that they were drunk.
While the idea of refusal might seem straightforward, it is not. Here are various situations that could unknowingly be deemed as refusal:
- You are only given one opportunity to take the test. If you refuse to submit to the test initially, you are not entitled to change your mind.
- If you are given a choice of chemical tests and fail to respond, the silence is taken as a refusal.
- You aren't entitled to consult your attorney before submitting the test.
- You don't have the right to have a medical expert during the chemical test.
Refusal to take a DUI chemical test is punishable by a one-year CDL suspension. Additionally, it could lead to an enhanced jail sentence if you have previous convictions, as indicated below:
- One prior conviction leads to a two-year revocation
- At least two prior convictions result in a three-year revocation
Department of Motor Vehicles Triggered CDL Suspension
If arrested for DUI in California, you'll face both a criminal charge in court and an administrative hearing at the DMV.
A California DMV hearing is a hearing whose main purpose is to determine if your driving privilege will be withdrawn or not.
After your arrest, the arresting police officer will take away your CDL and issue you with a Notice of Suspension. The notice is not only your temporary driver's license but also informs you that you have a right to challenge the suspension at a DMV hearing. You've ten days within your arrest to request the hearing. Otherwise, your CDL will be suspended after thirty days.
You have a right to be represented by a DUI defense attorney. The attorney increases the chances of prevailing in the case. It is because the lawyer will analyze and contest evidence, interview and cross-examine witnesses, including police officers, and testify on your behalf.
Moreover, the attorney will use legal defenses like you were not driving, the arresting police didn't conduct a fifteen-minute observation period, or the breath test gadget was not functioning well.
Suspension of your CDL will be effective once you lose the DMV hearing. The circumstances and length of the suspension will depend on whether it is the first or subsequent crime.
Court Imposed Suspension
While DMV hearing and a DUI criminal charge are closely connected, the two processes are independent of each other. That means a court-imposed suspension is reliant on whether you are convicted of commercial drunk driving.
Because California has strict commercial DUI laws, a conviction will result in an enhanced CDL suspension period. A first-time conviction where no person is injured attracts a one-year license suspension while a second conviction results in a lifetime suspension.
Additionally, the court could convict you of a misdemeanor or a felony. A misdemeanor carries a maximum of three (3) years of suspension while a felony causes five years of license revocation.
How to Reinstate Your Commercial Driver's License
Every DUI case in California is unique. Bearing that in mind, reinstating your CDL process will depend on why the driving privileges were withdrawn in the first place. To learn more, please refer to your Order of Suspension. Additionally, your defense attorney should be able to assist you in navigating the process.
You need either of the below to reinstate the license:
- Win the Department of Motor Vehicles hearing
- Wait until the suspension period elapses or obtain a restricted driver's license if you are eligible
- Complete court-ordered classes
- Pay reissue fee to the DMV
Typically, reinstatement of your CDL will require payment of the following fees:
- Fifty-five dollars for reissue fee
- Twenty dollars for the removal of the restriction
- Fifteen dollars for added court restriction
- One hundred dollars for APS suspension
- Twenty-four dollars for a drug-related suspension
It is essential to understand the above charges only represent California DMV fees. You may be needed to pay court-imposed fines.
If your license reinstatement fails, you can try obtaining a restricted driver's license. You can apply after thirty days following the suspension date. You qualify for this license if:
- You took a BAC test
- You were above 21 years of age during your arrest
- You have not violated DUI laws in the past ten years
Can You Receive a Restricted Driver's License Following a Commercial DUI Charge?
You can't obtain a restricted driver's license to operate a commercial vehicle during the suspension period.
However, you can downgrade to a Class M or non-commercial Class C license and obtain a restricted license to operate a non-commercial car. The restricted driver's license allows you to:
- Take your children to school
- Drive to work
- Take your loved ones to the hospital
To obtain a restricted license, you must:
- File SR-22 (financial responsibility proof) with the DMV
- Pay the reissue fee
- Pay a two hundred- and fifty-dollars financial responsibility penalty fee
How to Fight a CDL Suspension
Fighting commercial DUI charges is similar to fighting a standard DUI charge. Your defense attorney can take either of the positions below:
The Chemical Test Results were Inaccurate
Chemical test results might seem like strong evidence. However, there are several reasons why the results are often inaccurate. They include:
- You had acid reflux, heartburn, or Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD), which can give falsely high blood alcohol concentration readings
- You were on a high-protein diet
The Police didn’t Adhere to the Proper Procedure during Your Arrest
Even when you were drunk driving, the law enforcement officers should follow the right procedures. Otherwise, your charges will be dismissed. Police can fail to follow the procedures when they:
- Pull you over without a probable cause for the traffic stop
- Fail to advise you on the consequence of refusing to submit to a breath or blood test
- Fail to adhere to Title 17 procedures when conducting your chemical test
Find Legal Representation Near Me
As a commercial motorist living in San Fernando Valley or Los Angeles, you know how important it is to protect your commercial driver's license. Making a wrong decision could lead to suspension or even disqualification of the license, loss of employment, hefty fines, and incarceration. With so much at stake, you should engage an experienced attorney like The Law Offices of Ross Howell Sobel. We can fight to have the CDL reinstated, and criminal charges reduced or even dismissed. One of our experienced attorneys can review your case as well as answer your questions when you contact us at 818-582-2350.