CDL Holders & DWI Charges: What Your Up Against

man drinking a beer at the wheel - Springfield DWI lawyers

No one wants to ever be charged with a DWI; this is especially true for anyone with a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). Many people who are charged and then convicted with DWIs will face criminal penalties and civil penalties, such as having their license suspended. A person with a CDL may also be automatically out of work in addition to the criminal and civil penalties imposed by Missouri law. 

Today on the blog, we will take a look at DWIs in Springfield, MO, and how they can affect commercial driver’s licenses, along with how the laws and penalties differ for a commercial driver who is charged with DWI. 

Missouri DWI Laws for CDL HoldersTruck Driver CB Radio Talk

In Missouri and many other states, if your blood alcohol content is .08% or higher, you’ll be charged with a DUI or DWI. If you are a CDL holder, you can be charged with a DWI in Springfield if your blood alcohol is at .04%. Even if a CDL holder is driving their personal vehicle, if they have a current CDL, they can be charged with a DWI at .04%. This is because CDL holders are held at higher standards than people with regular driver’s licenses. You can only obtain a CDL after taking a specialized knowledge exam and possibly a specialized driving skills test, depending on the class of CDL you are applying for. 

Additionally, many CDL holders must undergo a background check. Mandatory background checks are the reason that a person with prior DWI convictions may not be eligible to apply for a CDL. According to NOLO, if you already have a CDL, the following significant violations can also lead to a disqualification of a CDL from one year to ten years include:

  • Being under the influence of alcohol as prescribed by Missouri law.
  • Being under the influence of any controlled substance that could influence your driving.
  • Having an alcohol concentration of .04% or higher while operating a CMV (Commercial Motor Vehicle)
  • Refusing to submit to an alcohol test as required by Missouri Law under its Implied Consent Law and regulations
  • Leaving the scene of an accident
  • Using the vehicle to commit a felony
  • Driving a CMV when, as a result of prior violations operating the CMV, the driver’s CDL is revoked, suspended, or canceled, or the driver is disqualified from operating a CMV. 
  • Causing a fatality through the negligent operation of a CMV, including but not limited to the crimes of motor vehicle manslaughter, homicide by motor vehicle, and negligent homicide.
  • Using the vehicle in the commission of a felony involving manufacturing, distributing, or dispensing a controlled substance.

DWI Penalties for CDL HoldersPleading Guilty

A “DWI” is defined in Springfield Missouri as driving any motor vehicle with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08 or greater. § 577.010.2, RSMo 2015. However, it is defined as a BAC of 0.04 when the driver is operating a commercial vehicle, and no provision is given for drivers on private roads or property. § 302. 302.1, RSMo 2015. This means that commercial drivers are held to a much higher standard when it comes to the use of alcohol when driving, and are thus much more at risk for arrest and conviction when it comes to a DWI.

If you are charged with a DWI in Springfield and convicted as a CDL holder, you can expect the following penalties to occur for a first time DWI offense:

  • Two points will be assessed to your Missouri Driver Record
  • You will be disqualified from driving a commercial motor vehicle for one year
  • Your driver’s license will be suspended for 30 days
  • Up to six months in jail
  • Fines up to $500
  • Increased insurance premiums. Even with just one DWI on your record, insurance premiums for a CDL will sky-rocket. 

The following penalties can occur for subsequent alcohol-related driving offenses:

  • You could lose your CDL for life. In some cases, you can possibly apply again after a minimum of 10 years has passed since your conviction. However, it is almost impossible to get an affordable insurance premium with two DWI convictions on your record. 
  • Your driver’s license will be suspended anywhere from 60-90 days
  • Up to one year in jail
  • Fines up to $1000

Get DWI Representation in Springfield Now

The traffic laws of Springfield Missouri are also much more restrictive on taking away one’s CDL in the event of a conviction. Most persons convicted of driving while intoxicated can regain their license or reduce the punishment imposed on them by taking state-run courses and passing applicable tests. However, a person who loses their CDL due to intoxicated driving will not be able to regain their license through such programs. This places intensive pressure on owners of a CDL to avoid alcohol at all costs when driving a commercial vehicle, since not only will a smaller amount of alcohol cause them to lose their license, they will have increased difficulty in earning it back.

However, the law is not unrelenting on persons with a CDL who may be convicted of driving under the influence. The law first requires that the person be driving a commercial vehicle at the time, and does not apply when the person is driving their personal vehicle or any other vehicle not defined as a commercial vehicle in § 302.700.1, RSMo 2015. This means that if you have a CDL and are pulled over for being intoxicated when you are in your personal vehicle, you are subject not only to the increased 0.08 BAC standard, you are entitled to the increased protections and more lenient license reinstatement policies given to non-CDL drivers.

Additionally, even a person who is convicted of driving while intoxicated behind the wheel of a commercial vehicle will still receive the benefits of more lenient sentences for first-time offenders. § 577.012.1, RSMo 2015. This enables a driver who changes his behavior to regain his CDL through the completion of alcohol abuse treatment programs and confirmations of improved behavior. Therefore, while it is important for owners of a CDL to be aware of the more stringent standards imposed upon drivers of commercial vehicles, they can still come back from a DWI by joining the proper programs and serving the necessary probationary period.

Call Us TodaySpringfield DWI attorneys

As a CDL holder, if you have been charged with a DWI in Springfield, time is of the essence. In fact, you have until the next business day to notify your employer of your DWI charge if you plan on applying for your CDL again. Then, you need to call a qualified attorney to represent you in court. In addition to helping you with all the necessary court paperwork and proceedings to fight the charges against you, your DWI representation will help you to get your CDL back as soon as possible. While your CDL reinstatement is up to the judge’s discretion, you may also be required to do the following to apply for reinstatement if your CDL is revoked, suspended or disqualified as a result of your DWI charge:

  • Successfully complete an alcohol and substance abuse program
  • Pay reinstatement fees. This does not include court or attorney fees.
  • File SR-22 Insurance and maintain coverage for at least three years.
  • Successfully retake and pass the commercial driver’s license test and any required skills assessment. 

Contact DWI Springfield today, if you are facing DWI charges as a CDL holder or any other violations that could result in termination of your CDL. We offer no-obligation consultations where we will be able to discuss your case and which defense strategies can be used. Our goal is to provide all of our clients with the best possible defense available in Springfield. We have helped thousands of people in similar situations either reduce their charges or have the charges dismissed. We understand that mistakes happen. But that doesn’t mean these mistakes should destroy your life or your career.