Thousands of Texans depend on their commercial drivers' licenses for their livelihood and fulfill their job requirements from the trucking company.
Without a CDL, they cannot drive a commercial vehicle and make money. One of the primary causes of losing the privilege to get or hold a CDL is the conviction of a DWI. In Texas, convictions aren't even necessary. If one is charged with a DWI while they drive a commercial truck in Texas, there are two processes to defend against - the administrative hearing and the criminal process.
Sparks Law Firm is located in Fort Worth, Texas, and has board-certified lawyers who understand the importance of one retaining their CDL and the driving privileges that accompany it. The DWI attorneys in Fort Worth TX here don't settle; they fight for a person's freedom and rights. Each case is prepared with the intention to go to trial, which threatens prosecutors who want to make a clean win for themselves. In relation to this, learn about how often are DUI charges reduced.
Operating a motor vehicle is considered a privilege; alcohol-related offenses can put that in jeopardy for the entire trucking industry and those with an otherwise good driving history. Please request a free consultation from Sparks Law Firm today!
Criminal Process and the Commercial Driver's License
In Texas, it's a crime to have a blood alcohol content level of 0.04 percent or higher with a commercial driver's license (CDL) when driving a commercial motor vehicle. The legal limit isn't set only by Texas; Federal regulations are in place that state any commercial driver operating commercial vehicles while under the influence of alcohol or a controlled substance gets a DWI.
Penalties for Operating the Commercial Motor Vehicle While Intoxicated
If one is found to have a BAC level of 0.04 percent or higher, it might be considered a Class B misdemeanor if it's a first offense with a CDL. This carries a minimum jail sentence of three days to 180 days and a fine of up to $2,000. The penalties increase with any subsequent DWI conviction. Three or more convictions mean a felony.
The Defense for a DWI Charge When Operating a Commercial Truck or Car
Because jail and serious fines are involved, along with CDL disqualification and suspension of the occupational license, defending oneself from the charge is crucial to the person's family and profession.
Trucking companies employ people with excellent driving records, and truckers can make good money. However, if they're forced with a driver's license suspension of one year and jail time, their careers are at risk. To rebuild their reputation against reckless driving and to convince the employer to hire them again with other qualified candidates is tough to do.
Administrative Process and the Commercial Driver License
If one is arrested for a first-offense DWI while operating their commercial vehicle, the CDL and driver's license is taken from them. The police issue a temporary license, which expires 41 days from the issuance date. That way, they can continue driving the commercial or personal vehicle.
If they were charged with a DWI and want to contest the driver license suspension, they must request a hearing. They have:
15 days to request the administrative hearing if the CDL was suspended using the Administrative License Revocation program, meaning they refused the chemical test (alcohol test or blood test)
20 days to request an administrative hearing from the Texas Department of Public Safety
If one refused to submit to the blood or breath test, they have 15 days from the Texas DWI arrest date to request the ALR hearing. It's only there to contest the disqualification and license suspension. They may continue driving their commercial vehicle until the hearing if they petitioned for the hearing in due time.
However, if the ALR hearing is lost, the CDL disqualification period is one year unless the vehicle had placards for a hazardous material; the penalty is then three years.
When the person fails to request a hearing within 15 days, their driver's license is automatically suspended for a full 180 days, and the CDL is suspended for a year.
However, a DWI attorney can argue on behalf of the client. The Texas Department of Public Safety must prove:
One was driving and was in actual control of the vehicle while intoxicated in a public place.
There was a reasonable suspicion (probable cause) to stop the person.
They were taken into custody and informed in writing and orally of the consequences of failing or refusing the blood/breath test, were asked to submit to the test, and refused or failed such test.
If one didn't refuse the test but failed it, their license is taken, and they receive the 41-day temporary license. The Texas DPS hearing allows the lawyer the opportunity to cross-examine police officers and build a criminal defense case to disprove the charge elements.
However, if the DPS hearing is unsuccessful, the license is suspended for 90 full days, and the CDL is disqualified for one to three years, depending on if the placards indicate the person was transporting hazardous materials.
Keep in mind the following:
A third DWI offense committed while using the commercial vehicle results in a life disqualification of the CDL.
Civil penalties are possible whether it was a first or third offense under the FMCSA.
Applying for A Texas CDL After Receiving a DWI Conviction
To acquire a commercial driver license in Texas, one must have a good driving record. A DWI on the driving record may prevent one from obtaining a CDL, even if they can pass the knowledge and skills tests.
If it is the first offense for CDL holders, they may still be able to return to driver eligibility status. Still, their employer may not hire them back. After a second offense, it may be impossible to get a commercial learner permit because of the criminal record.
Choose a Criminal Defense Lawyer
A CDL is crucial for one's livelihood, but a DWI conviction puts that into question. It's essential to contact Sparks Law Firm and request a free consultation. The lawyers here can assist with traffic offenses relating to alcohol concentration levels.
While the prosecution is building a criminal case, the attorney offers the free case evaluation to determine what winning methods might be possible in that situation. They also help clients navigate the system and understand matters such as how long the probation is for DUI.