By: Diana Aizman
If you hold a commercial license and you drove a commercial motor vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, you may be charged with “Commercial Drivers with a DUI” under Vehicle Code 23152(d), among other related offenses. To be convicted of this offense, your blood alcohol content must have been 0.04% or higher at the time you drove a commercial motor vehicle.
If you are convicted of the offense, you will lose your commercial license for at least one year, and possibly for life. However, there are various DUI defenses that can be asserted on your behalf by an experienced DUI attorney. As former DUI prosecutors, the Aizman Law Firm has acquired extensive experience and special training in defending against charges in DUI cases.
To prove that you are guilty of this offense, the prosecutor has to prove the following facts or elements1
- You drove a commercial motor vehicle; AND
- When you drove the commercial motor vehicle, your blood alcohol level was 0.04% or more by weight.
Because commercial drivers are held to a much higher standard of safety than drivers of passenger vehicles, they face much higher penalties for violating DUI laws. One of the penalties is the loss/suspension of their commercial and/or non-commercial driver’s license.
First Time Violation/Conviction
Pursuant to California Vehicle Code 15300, a driver of a commercial vehicle who gets a first- time conviction of any of the following offenses (listed below), even while driving a non-commercial motor vehicle, will not be allowed to operate a commercial motor vehicle for a period of 1 year:
Examples of applicable violations:
- Driving Under the Inﬂuence2
- Driving With 0.08 Percent Blood Alcohol3
- Driving While Addicted to a Drug4
- Driving With 0.05 Percent Blood Alcohol When Under 21 (Vehicle Code 23140(a))
- DUI Causing Injury
- Driving With 0.08 Percent Blood Alcohol Causing Injury5
Pursuant to California Vehicle Code §15302, any of the above-listed DUI offenses will result in a suspension of the drivers’ commercial license for the rest of his or her life.
Suspension of Non-Commercial Driver’s License
Pursuant to Vehicle Code Section 13352 – “Suspension or Revocation for DUI or Speed Contest,” if the commercial license holder was driving a commercial motor vehicle at the time of committing a DUI offense, his/her non-commercial driving license privileges will be suspended/revoked.
Challenging the DUI Test Results
Often times, the DUI test results are inaccurate for various reasons, such as:
- the police officer administering the breath test did not follow proper procedures;
- the testing device did not follow the regulations of the California Department of Health Services; or
- the test results were not accurate for other reasons, such as, the driver had another substance in his blood that interfered with an accurate result.
Challenging the Conviction Based on Improper Police’s Procedures
If you were pulled over and forced to take the breathalyzer test that led to your conviction, but you do not think the police officer had probable cause to pull you over in the first place, your conviction can be challenged on this basis.
Upon getting a conviction under Vehicle Code section 23152(a) or section 23152(b) , a commercial driver is convicted of a California DUI just like a non-commercial driver and will face the same penalties and punishments as non-commercial drivers. Such penalties include
- A jail sentence of up to 1 year in county jail
- A fine of up to $1,000; and
- court-ordered alcohol program.
Further penalties involve suspension of the commercial and/or non-commercial driver’s license, as discussed above.
Vehicle Code 23153(b) California’s “DUI causing injury” law: Pursuant to Vehicle Code 23153(b), it is unlawful for a driver, while having 0.08 percent or more, by weight, to drive a vehicle and to negligently cause bodily injury to another person.
Driving Under the Inﬂuence or With 0.08 Percent Blood Alcohol: Pursuant to Vehicle Code Sections 23550, 23550.5 & 23566, if a driver violated Vehicle Code section 23152 within 10 years of three or more separate violations of Section 23103, as specified in Section 23103.5, or Section 23152 or 23153, or any combination thereof, and it resulted in convictions, the driver will face punishment in the form of an imprisonment pursuant to subdivision (h) of Section 1170 of the Penal Code, or in a county jail for not less than 180 days nor more than one year, and by a fine of not less than three hundred ninety dollars ($390) nor more than one thousand dollars ($1,000).
Additionally, the driver’s privilege to drive a motor vehicle will be revoked by the Department of Motor Vehicles pursuant to