No one who drives in California wants to be charged with driving under the influence, but if driving is the way that you make your living, a DUI conviction can be utterly devastating.

The people who drive commercially keep our nation and state economically strong. Without truck drivers, couriers, cabbies, bus drivers, and the many others who drive for hire, the economy – and just about everything else – would swiftly grind to a halt.

WHY DOES THE LAW TREAT COMMERCIAL DRIVERS DIFFERENTLY?

Because so much counts on them, and because they spend so many hours on the road, the drivers of commercial vehicles in California are held to a higher accountability standard than other drivers.

Truck drivers, in particular, travel considerable distances, driving the largest vehicles and carrying the heaviest loads. The trucking industry in the United States is regulated by the U.S. Department of Transportation.

Federal regulations forbid truck drivers from driving more than eleven hours in a day or more than seventy hours in a week. A thirty-minute break after the first eight hours of driving each day is mandatory, and a truck driver must maintain a detailed log of his or her activities and hours.

Under federal regulations, a commercial driver may be randomly tested for drug or alcohol at any time before, during, or after driving a commercial vehicle.

HOW ARE DUI CHARGES DIFFERENT FOR COMMERCIAL DRIVERS?

Professional drivers in California can lose their commercial driver’s licenses (CDLs) and their jobs when they are convicted of driving under the influence, and while the DUI laws are quite strict in this state, for commercial drivers the rules are even more stringent.

California law defines a “commercial” driver as the holder of a commercial driver’s license that allows the operation of commercial vehicles. Several DUI laws in California deal exclusively with commercial drivers.

For example, California’s “legal limit” is lower for drivers with commercial licenses; it’s a 0.04 percent blood alcohol content (BAC) level, compared against 0.08 percent for noncommercial drivers.

WHAT OTHER RESTRICTIONS ARE IMPOSED ON COMMERCIAL DRIVERS?

And when you drive with a commercial driver’s license in California, if you are charged with driving under the influence, it does not matter what vehicle you were driving or whether you were even working. You’ll be charged as a commercial driver for any suspected DUI violation.

Additionally, under both state laws and federal regulations, commercial drivers are not allowed to refuse a blood, breath, or urine test.

When a professional driver is asked by a California law enforcement officer to submit to a DUI test, and that driver refuses to test, the driver can be charged with driving under the influence – right then and there – under California Vehicle Code 15210.

When a professional driver is charged with driving under the influence in California, his or her commercial driver’s license is immediately and automatically suspended.

HOW SERIOUS IS DUI FOR A COMMERCIAL DRIVER?

Speaking frankly, if you are a trucker, a cabbie, a limousine driver, or a bus driver in California, a conviction for driving under the influence will probably end that employment.

That’s why truckers and other commercial drivers who are charged with DUI in southern California must be represented by a skilled and experienced Orange County DUI lawyer.

A commercial driver cannot afford to be convicted of driving under the influence. A DUI attorney will review the charges against you and advocate aggressively on your behalf.

If a DUI charge cannot be dismissed, your attorney may recommend accepting a plea bargain or may recommend going to trial and fighting for an acquittal.

Do not plead guilty to driving under the influence – unless that is your attorney’s recommendation – and don’t sign any plea bargain or agreement without first obtaining a DUI attorney’s advice.

WHAT ELSE WILL A DUI ATTORNEY DO ON YOUR BEHALF?

If your case goes to trial, your DUI attorney may offer a defense that challenges the testimony of the arresting officers or the accuracy of any blood, breath, or urine test.

Even the legality of the arrest itself might be challenged. If the police broke the rules when they stopped, questioned, searched, or arrested you, it’s possible that a DUI charge can be dismissed.

All driving under the influence convictions in California carry the possibility of jail time, fines, a four-month driver’s license suspension, and court-ordered DUI school.

WHAT CAN BE THE LONG-TERM CONSEQUENCES OF A DUI CONVICTION?

But professional drivers can have their commercial driver’s licenses suspended for a full year after a driving under the influence conviction, and they are not eligible to obtain restricted licenses.

A professional driver with a DUI conviction may have to pursue other work. And even when driving privileges are restored, that driver’s auto insurance rates will be substantially higher.

A second California driving under the influence conviction for a professional driver means losing your commercial driver’s license for life – with no exceptions.

WHERE CAN A COMMERCIAL DRIVER TURN FOR LEGAL HELP?

The good news is that a professional driver can fight a driving under the influence charge in southern California with the help of a DUI lawyer.

Good DUI lawyers in California routinely help their clients by having charges reduced or dismissed, by negotiating for acceptable plea bargains, and by winning not guilty verdicts.

And even if the evidence is persuasive and a conviction is likely, a good DUI defense attorney can still advocate on your behalf for reduced or alternative sentencing.

In other words, if you are charged with driving under the influence in California – and especially if you drive with a commercial license – it is imperative to reach out for an attorney’s help as swiftly as possible, because it’s help that you are very much going to need.

WITH A DUI CHARGE, HOW CAN YOU KEEP YOUR COMMERCIAL LICENSE?

If you carry a commercial driver’s license in California, and if you’ve been arrested and charged with driving under the influence, the only way that you are going to keep that license is to fight for it.

That is your right, and having an attorney’s help is also your right. With your employment and your future at stake, you must fight a driving under the influence charge if you drive for a living.

Do not wait. If you’ve been charged with DUI, you must talk to a good DUI lawyer at once.