A conviction for driving under the influence (DUI) comes with many costs – some of which may not be readily apparent. Most every state requires individuals convicted of DUI to spend some period of time in jail, even for a first conviction. There also may be a fine of several hundred dollars or more. In addition, the driver convicted of DUI will have to pay court administrative costs and may also be responsible for the costs of house arrest, an ignition interlock device and/or administrative fees in order to keep his or her driver’s license. Additionally, drivers who hold a commercial driver’s license (CDL) – or any driver who hopes to obtain a CDL – may find it difficult to do so after a DUI conviction.
Governments Take Driving Convictions Seriously When It Comes to CDL Holders
Drivers of commercial vehicles have a weighty responsibility on their shoulders: they must safely transport heavy and sometimes even dangerous cargo from a point of origin to a destination – two points on a map that can be hundreds or thousands of miles apart. This requires drivers to remain alert, attentive to their surroundings, and ready to take emergency actions with little or no warning. Commercial drivers who commit DUI, whether they do so behind the wheel of a commercial vehicle or in their own car, not only put themselves and their cargo at risk but also other drivers on the road. For this reason, the federal and state governments take a strong stand against CDL holders who commit DUI.
States Follow the Federal Government in Regulating Their CDL License Holders
Although your CDL license is issued by the state, the federal government ultimately decides whether you will get a CDL license. This is because federal agencies like the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) write the regulations that pertain to all CDL holders, no matter where they are driving or which state granted their CDL license. As a condition of receiving federal monies to assist with state highway maintenance and development projects, states agree to enforce these federal regulations as their own.
What this means is that regardless of whether you seek a CDL in Illinois, New York, or anywhere else in the United States, your ability to obtain and retain that CDL license will be governed primarily by federal principles as enforced by the states. In other words, a DUI in California can make it difficult for you to obtain a CDL in Illinois or elsewhere.
How DUIs Affect CDL Holders
Let’s say you currently hold a CDL license and you are convicted of driving under the influence. Your CDL license may be suspended for a period of at least a year. If you were driving a commercial vehicle and transporting dangerous cargo while DUI, the suspension may be for as many as three years. Once this period passes, you may be able to apply for a reinstatement of your driving privileges. If you are convicted of DUI a second time, your CDL license will be suspended for life. There is a possibility that you may still be able to have your CDL reinstated, but you would need to wait at least 10 years before attempting to do so.
How DUIs Affect Your Ability to Obtain a CDL
Just as current CDL holders face challenges in maintaining their commercial driver’s licenses, those who are applying for a CDL and who have one or more DUIs on their records may find it difficult to obtain a CDL – or a job that requires a CDL. In general, so long as the restriction or suspension of your driver’s license that was imposed as a result of the DUI has been lifted and your license is in good standing, you may apply for and obtain a CDL. Once you obtain a CDL, however, future DUIs can and (obviously) will harm your chances of keeping your CDL.
Just Because You Can Get or Keep a CDL Does Not Mean You’ll Keep Your Job
It should be emphasized that your ability to obtain or keep a CDL after a DUI does not mean you will find an employer who will hire you or that you can keep your job. A DUI conviction raises insurance rates of both the driver and his or her employer, if that employer allows the person to drive on his behalf. Some employers may not want the added insurance bill and will refuse to employ someone with even one DUI conviction.
Speak with an Illinois DUI Defense Attorney Today
For these reasons, you need a vigorous and strong defense to DUI charges if you have or hope to obtain a CDL. Speak with the Noll Law Office about your DUI charges by calling (217) 414-8889 or by reaching out to us through the firm’s website: www.noll-law.com.