What You Need to Know If You Have a CDL And Get a DWI in Texas

If you have a commercial driver’s license (CDL) or a commercial learner’s permit (CLP), and you are convicted of driving while intoxicated (DWI), the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) might temporarily disqualify your license or permit.   

DPS disqualifies CDL and CLPs as the result of convictions for certain offenses. For alcohol-related convictions, the penalties are tough. Here’s what you need to know if you have a CDL and get a DWI in Texas.

One-Year Disqualification of CDL

Texas DPS will disqualify your CDL for one year if you refuse a breathalyzer or blood test to check either your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) or whether a controlled substance is present while you were driving your commercial truck in a public place.

Your CDL will also be disqualified for one year if you were operating your motor vehicle in a public place, and your BAC registered at any of the below concentrations:

  • 04 or higher (commercial vehicle only)
  • 08 or higher (any vehicle)
  • 10 or higher (any vehicle)

Three-Year Disqualification of CDL

Texas DPS will disqualify your CDL for three years from transporting hazardous materials if you refuse a breathalyzer or blood test to determine either your BAC or the existence of a controlled substance while you were driving a commercial motor vehicle transporting a hazardous material.

You will also be disqualified for three years from transporting hazardous material if your BAC tests reveal an alcohol concentration of the following levels:

  • 04 or higher (commercial vehicle only)
  • 08 or higher (any vehicle)
  • 10 or higher (any vehicle)

Lifetime Disqualification of CDL

For a second DWI offense, while operating a commercial motor vehicle, your CDL will be disqualified for life.

Note the “Any Vehicle” Offenses

If you carefully read the above offenses, you will see that you do not have to be driving a commercial motor vehicle to have your CDL disqualified for a DWI. If you are convicted of a DWI while driving your own car, you are subject to having your CDL disqualified as indicated above.

Contesting the Disqualification of Your CDL

You could be eligible to request an Administrative License Revocation (ALR) hearing to contest your CDL disqualification. You need to send the request to DPS within 20 days of your DWI incident. DPS will contact you via mail within 120 days with a hearing date, time, and location. If you miss the 20-day deadline, DPS will not grant you a hearing.

The ALR hearing will take place in a municipal or a justice of peace court in the county where you reside. A hearing officer will decide as to the validity of your disqualification based on facts and evidence you present at the hearing.

Appealing the ALR Hearing Decision

If your CDL is disqualified at your hearing, you are entitled to appeal the decision. You must file a petition that is file-stamped by a county or district court within 30 days of the date your CDL was disqualified. Make a certified copy of the signed petition and mail it to DPS via certified overnight mail to the following address:

Texas Department of Public Safety
Director of Hearings – ALR Program

P.O. Box 16327

Austin, TX 78761-5327

DPS will temporarily lift the disqualification on your CDL for 90 days after receiving your petition. If the appellate court has not ruled on your matter within this timeframe, your disqualification will be re-implemented.

While you can apply for an occupational license for your private vehicle in connection with work, school, or essential household activities, you cannot operate a commercial motor vehicle with this restricted license.

Other Occasions That Result in Having Your CDL Disqualified

Texas DPS can also disqualify your CDL if you are convicted of specific moving violations in your personal vehicle. The offenses are too numerous to mention here. To give you an idea of the range, here are some examples:

You can have your CDL disqualified for:

  • 60 days if you are convicted of two serious traffic violations that occur within a three-year period
  • 120 days if you are convicted of two violations of a law that regulates the operation of a motor vehicle at a railroad grade crossing that occurs within a three-year period

A Texas DWI Lawyer Can Help You Fight Your DWI and Protect Your CDL

Texas laws are among the toughest when it comes to DWIs, and Texas courts are among the most rigid when it comes to deciding cases involving DWIs. When it comes to a commercial truck, judges can be particularly wary about going easy on a driver who is operating such a large and potentially deadly vehicle were it to cause a crash due to a DWI.

You will want to seriously consider the idea of hiring a Texas DWI lawyer who can protect your rights and help you protect the CDL that provides your livelihood. There are many regulations and laws you must know if you have a CDL and get a DWI in Texas.

The Law Offices of Randall B. Isenberg can fight this fight for you. Randall Isenberg, a former prosecutor, and state district judge, has spent 30 years in courtrooms and knows the ins and outs of presenting a DWI case effectively. Call us today for a case review: 214-696-9253.

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