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What happens if you’re charged with DWI when you have a CDL?

| Apr 23, 2021 | Dwi |

Driving while intoxicated (DWI) is illegal in North Carolina. A drunk driving conviction when you hold a commercial driver’s license (CDL) can cost you your job. 

Both the federal and state government expect commercial driver’s license holders to exhibit a higher standard of safety and care on the road than other motorists. It’s critical that you understand what unique driving laws apply to you as someone who holds CDL so that you don’t jeopardize your career.

Who regulates the operation of commercial vehicles?

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) enforces federal drug and alcohol consumption laws that apply to commercial drivers, including: 

  • Individuals who own or lease commercial vehicles
  • Employee drivers who operate commercial vehicles
  • Anyone working for local, state or federal governments
  • Workers for private for-hire motor carriers
  • Transportation personnel with civic organizations, like churches

This federal agency regulates these professions as none of these commercial drivers operate in their personal capacity. Many of them drive vehicles owned by their employers. Accidents that occur put their companies’ products, passengers and reputation on the line. 

What drunk driving laws apply to commercial drivers?

North Carolina adheres to federal regulations as far as the legal limit that constitutes intoxication for commercial drivers. That blood alcohol content level is 0.04, half that of non-commercial drivers. FMCSA regulations additionally prohibit commercial drivers from operating a commercial vehicle within four hours of having consumed alcohol. 

These same regulations also allow fleet companies to perform random drug and alcohol tests on prospective and existing employees and require it after an accident. These regulations see a commercial driver’s refusal to submit to a drug test as the same as pleading guilty to DWI. A conviction for such charges may result in a longer license suspension than it would be for a non-commercial driver.

The FMCSA additionally requires all CDL drivers to notify their employer of a DWI conviction within 30 days of it occurring, regardless of whether it happened in a commercial or personal vehicle. FMCSA prohibits companies from employing commercial drivers for the duration of the license restriction.

What should you do if you’re facing DWI charges in North Carolina?

Your career is on the line if you’re facing DWI charges here in the Tar Heel State. An attorney can advise you on how to best craft a solid defense strategy based on the circumstances surrounding your case.