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What CDL holders need to know about DWI laws

On Behalf of | Aug 5, 2021 | DWI

Motorists with a commercial driver’s license (CDL) are subject to more requirements than your average driver. CDL holders must abide by Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regulations, in addition to New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission (MVC) rules.

While the legal limit in New Jersey for most adult motorists is a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08%, it’s 0.04% for anyone operating a vehicle on a CDL. This law follows federal driving while intoxicated (DWI) standards set by the FMCSA. This isn’t the only thing you need to know about as a CDL operator arrested on DWI charges.

Which DWI-related FMCSA guidelines must CDL holders follow?

People with CDLs are prohibited from operating a company vehicle within four hours of consuming alcohol, in addition to maintaining a BAC under 0.04%. This law applies to the following CDL license holders:

  • Those who drive for-hire and private commercial carrier vehicles
  • Anyone employed by a government agency
  • Motorists operating community or religious organizations’ vehicles
  • Fleet companies’ employees and owner-operators

The FMCSA guidelines also allow fleet companies to carry out random drug testing before hiring an employee and following a crash.

What penalties does New Jersey assess CDL holders convicted of DWIs?

Any CDL operator convicted of their first DWI in New Jersey will have their personal driver’s license suspended for between three and 12 months. The suspension of their commercial license will last one year. A secondary DWI violation in New Jersey will deprive a CDL operator of their personal driver’s license for two years. The state will permanently revoke their CDL.

The FMCSA also has regulations that CDL drivers must follow should a judge or jury convict them of a DWI. The driver has 30 days to let their employer know about their conviction. Federal law prohibits employers from allowing you to work for them as long as your suspension lasts.

Your defense strategy matters in a DWI case

Most individuals who possess a CDL count on their license to earn a livelihood. A DWI on your record can cause you to lose your ability to work in your profession. You need a solid defense if you plan to continue working in your role. It’s crucial to understand the law and your rights if you’re facing DWI charges.