If you have a commercial driver’s license (CDL) in Texas, you know how devastating it can be to your career and your life if you get convicted of a DWI. Your best bet is to try to avoid the conviction entirely.
Don’t risk heavy fines, jail time, and years of difficulty finding jobs and housing. Our attorneys will use the evidence we gather to build a case for you. We will provide frequent case updates, so you don’t worry unnecessarily about what’s going on with your case. While we handle the legal process, we will fight for your future.
What Happens When a CDL Holder Gets a DWI in Texas
If you get convicted of a DWI in Texas and you have a commercial driver’s license, you will lose your CDL for one year, even on the first offense. For the second and any subsequent DWI, you can face a lifetime forfeiture of your CDL. These penalties are in addition to all the other consequences you could face for a DWI conviction.
You typically must have a CDL to work as a commercial driver. During the one-year suspension for a first-offense DWI conviction, you will not be able to earn a living by driving a truck or any other commercial vehicle that requires a CDL. After your CDL gets restored, you will likely find it challenging to get commercial driving work with a DWI on your record.
Before you assume that you can move to another state and get a CDL, most states will find you ineligible for a CDL with a DWI from any state. You will likely have to change your career path. Even if your new line of work does not require driving as a job duty, having a DWI conviction on your criminal record will carry a social stigma into the workplace.
Standard DWI Penalties
In addition to possibly permanent challenges to your career, you also face all the standard DWI penalties, the same as people with regular driver’s licenses in Texas.
The Texas Department of Transportation says that you will have to attend alcohol education classes, pay a state fine of $3,000, $4,500, or $6,000, in addition to the DWI fine, and pay court costs. Also, the standard DWI penalties for a first, second, or third offense include:
First DWI Conviction
- A fine of up to $2,000.
- Having to spend up to 180 days in jail.
- Losing one’s standard driver’s license for up to a year.
Second DWI Conviction
- The fine could increase up to $4,000.
- Jail time could be anywhere from one month up to one year.
- Loss of a standard driver’s license for up to 2 years.
Third DWI Conviction
- A fine of $10,000.
- Prison, not jail, for between 2 and 10 years.
- Losing a standard driver’s license for up to 2 years.
Since you will likely lose your job when you lose your CDL, you will have to find a way to survive when you get out of jail or prison and you are, at least temporarily, unemployed. Paying fines of this magnitude may be difficult without reliable employment.
How Texas Law Defines Intoxication for Commercial Drivers
Section 522.081 of the Transportation Code of Texas says a CDL holder will get disqualified from driving commercial vehicles if they:
- Refuse to submit to a blood, breath, or urine test to measure their alcohol concentration or the presence of a drug or controlled substance if a law enforcement officer requests such testing after the driver operates a commercial motor vehicle in a public place;
- Submitted to the testing, which revealed a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.04 or more while operating a commercial motor vehicle in a public place;
- Submitted to the testing, which revealed any detectable amount of a controlled substance or drug while operating in a commercial motor vehicle in a public place;
- Submitted to the testing, which revealed that, although the CDL holder was not operating a commercial motor vehicle at the time, they were operating some other type of motor vehicle in a public place while having a BAC of 0.08 or more.
As you can see, it is much easier for a CDL holder to get charged with a DWI in Texas than a person with a standard driver’s license. Also, as a CDL holder, you have much more at stake if you get convicted of a DWI in our state.
Instead of waiting until a conviction derails your life, you may benefit from a commercial DWI lawyer helping you from the very beginning of your case. Doing so can maximize your opportunities for negotiating and building a strong defense.
How a Commercial DWI is Different from a Standard DWI in Farmers Branch
Texas treats commercial DWIs differently from standard DWIs in these ways:
- You can lose your CDL for getting a DWI in your own car. You do not have to be driving a commercial vehicle to lose your CDL.
- Under Texas law, you can get tested randomly at any time for drugs, controlled substances, or alcohol concentration.
- CDL holders have a much lower BAC limit than people with ordinary driver’s licenses.
- In Texas, they can take your CDL and put you in jail for any amount of drugs or controlled substances in your bloodstream. If you drive with prescription medication in your blood, you could lose your CDL.
- You will lose your CDL for a year on your first offense DWI in Texas.
- CDL holders do not get a different set of penalties than people with standard driver’s licenses. CDL holders get hit with all of the penalties of an ordinary DWI conviction plus the additional CDL license forfeiture.
Contact the Law Offices of Randall B. Isenberg for Your Commercial DWI Case
Our firm’s founder has more than 30 years of experience in criminal courts. He is a former prosecutor and state district judge who will use his industry knowledge and experience to fight for your future. You can contact the Law Offices of Randall B. Isenberg to get started.