Consequences of a First or Second DUI for Commercial Drivers

Man being given sobriety test

If you or someone you know is a commercial driver in New Jersey, the potential consequences of facing a first or second drunk driving charge cannot be understated. When driving is your livelihood, and possibly the sole source of income for you and your family, the penalties for drunk driving even one time can be devastating. Many commercial drivers don’t realize that they may be facing additional penalties for even their first offense. If you are charged with DUI, what are you actually facing?

First Offense

Anyone facing a DUI charge in New Jersey is justifiably concerned about the possible effects of a conviction. But for commercial drivers in our state specifically, the consequences are enhanced. A commercial driver in New Jersey who is found guilty of operating a commercial vehicle while under the influence is subject to many consequences. Those include notification to the Commercial Driver License Information System, suspension of his/her commercial driver license for between 1 to 3 years, as well as fines and possible jail time. There is no set fine for a first violation, however under N.J.S.A. 39:3-86, the court may impose a fine of anywhere between $25 to $500. Additionally, a $33 court fee may be imposed, as well as a $6 surcharge and $50 assessment to the Victims of Crime Compensation Board. Finally, although the laws do not specifically state a jail term for a first offense, it is possible for the court to impose a sentence of up to 30 days in jail if the offense involves a commercial vehicle

Additionally, even if this is your first offense, but you have previously been convicted of certain other crimes, you can be subject to a mandatory lifetime suspension of your commercial driving privileges. If you are a full-time driver in shipping, transport, or other industries, this means you could become deprived of your sole source income and be denied employment in your field of choice.

Previous convictions for the following crimes would subject you to the lifetime suspension:

  • Operating a commercial vehicle while on the revoked list
  • Leaving the scene of a motor vehicle accident as an operator driving a commercial vehicle
  • Using a commercial vehicle in the commission of a crime
  • Refusal to submit to a breath test

Also, it does not matter when these previous convictions happened. A court may consider it even if it was 5, 10, 30 years ago. Therefore, if you ever find yourself facing a DUI charge while operating a commercial vehicle, you should consider retaining an attorney and carefully review your past and advise your attorney of any previous criminal history you may have. It is also important to note that if you happen to be transporting any hazardous material or even just are driving a vehicle that simply displays a hazardous material placard, your commercial driver license must be suspended for three years under New Jersey state law.

Second Offense – mandatory lifetime loss of CDL

If you have previously been convicted of a DUI while operating a commercial vehicle, you know the serious consequences that you can face. Although the monetary penalties are the same for second-time offenders who are found guilty of operating a commercial vehicle while under the influence, there are a few key differences when it comes to facing a second offense. First, second offender operating a commercial vehicle are subject to a jail term of between 2 to 90 days. Second, you will lose your commercial driving privileges for life. Third, step-down provisions that New Jersey provides for some subsequent DUI offenders DOES NOT APPLY to suspensions of commercial driving privileges. Notably, however, New Jersey law does allow for a possible reduction of a lifetime suspension of your commercial driver’s license to 10 years. This power lies with the Chief Administrator of the Motor Vehicle Commission and they have certain guidelines regarding when a reduction is appropriate. Therefore, it is important to discuss all of these possibilities with an experienced DUI attorney, because every situation and case is different.

New Jersey Drunk Driving Attorney Edward M. Janzekovich Can Help Commercial Drivers Facing DUI Charges

Defending against a DWI charge, especially one involving a commercial driver, can involve many potential penalties. If you are charged with drunk driving or driving under the influence in New Jersey, knowing what your rights are can make all the difference. To speak with an experienced New Jersey DWI lawyer about your situation, call us at 732-257-1137 or contact us online today. We serve clients in Ocean County, Monmouth County, Mercer County, Middlesex County, Union County and Somerset County.