Updated: March 21, 2021
A CDL, or commercial driver’s license, is required for anyone driving a vehicle over a specific weight. In most cases, having this license is job related, so having your license suspended for a DUI will have severe consequences. While every state has its own laws, the bulk of the laws surrounding a DUI for someone with a CDL are similar throughout the country.
Many drivers seeking this type of license, ask if they can still get a Class A, B, or C license with a DUI. The shortest answer is they will lose their CDL, or their chances of getting one with any recent conviction of this offense on their record.
The time to defend a DUI with a CDL license successfully, is limited to a very short period after an arrest happens. A person must know what case-specific options they have to avoid a CDL disqualification from taking effect under the current law.
What Vehicles Require a CDL?
According to the Department of Motor Vehicles, there are three classes of motor vehicles that will require a CDL:
Class A – Any vehicle with a semi-trailer or trailer with two or more axles. This group also includes any combination of vehicle with a gross vehicle weight rating greater than 26,000 pounds, provided that the gross vehicle weight rating of the towed vehicle is in excess of 10,000 pounds. *
Class B – Any Heavy Straight Vehicle with a gross vehicle weight rating greater than 26,000 pounds is classified in Group B, as well as any vehicle towing another vehicle not in excess of 10,000 pounds.*
Class C – Any vehicle that is designed to transport 16 or more passengers (including the driver) or is used in the transportation of materials classified as hazardous in the Hazardous Materials Transportation Act.*
*this class information is quoted directly from the Federal Department of Motor Vehicles website
Do I Have to be Driving a Commercial Vehicle during DUI Arrest?
No, even if you are driving your personal vehicle when stopped for a DUI, any penalties and fines handed out will affect your CDL status. If you are driving the commercial vehicle, you should know that the blood alcohol content (BAC) is lowered to .04 percent in most states (compared to .08 percent for a regular vehicle).
Is There a Difference Between Revocation and Suspension?
Yes. If your state mandates a license suspension, your license will be returned to you after the suspension is served. On the other hand, if your state mandates a license revocation, you lose the license outright and will have to reapply for the CDL once the revocation period is over.
What If I Refuse Chemical Testing?
It is your right to refuse chemical testing after a DUI stop, but most states are implied consent states, meaning there is some type of penalty and/or fine in place regardless of the outcome of the case. In most states, this will be at least a one-year license suspension or revocation. This, of course, applies to both your personal vehicle and your CDL.
Taryn J. White is a legal research specialist and DUI law news reporter. Her current accomplishments include helping those facing any driving under the influence arrest charges, get free online assistance in learning how to fight a DUI case for the best possible outcome.