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Maryland CDL DUI Lawyer

When one has commercial driver’s license in Maryland, DUI cases are significantly more serious than cases where one does not have a commercial driver’s license (CDL). Generally speaking, people who have commercial driver’s licenses use their CDLs to work. If they lose their CDL, it is not just going to be an inconvenience getting back and forth to work, but they are going to be without a job. That raises the stakes significantly for DUIs in Anne Arundel County.

Impact of a Charge (Not Conviction) on Employment

That is really going to depend on a couple of different factors.

First and foremost, it is going to depend on what happens at the administrative hearing where the driver’s license is suspended. In Maryland, when someone is cited for a DUI, there are two separate and independent processes at work.

One is the criminal court case, which is where there is a possibility of a conviction. The other is an administrative suspension of one’s driver’s license and that is based on either blowing or refusing to blow in the breathalyzer. That suspension is going to be independent of any kind of criminal conviction in the underlying case. It is possible for an individual to be charged with a DUI and beat the DUI in court, but still end up losing the commercial license based on administrative penalties.

Administrative License Suspensions

Just being charged with a DUI does not carry any consequences. It is the other portion of the case, the administrative license suspension that does. That is going to be based on the driver’s conduct when asked to submit to a breathalyzer test by the police.

If an individual submits to a breathalyzer test and the result is under a .15 and above a .08 that is going to trigger a 45-day loss of license and that will apply both to a regular license as well as a commercial driver’s license. The big difference between regular licenses and commercial driver’s licenses when it comes to driver’s license suspension is that while regular license suspensions can be modified into a work permit in cases of a low blow, commercial license cannot. That will be an automatic suspension of all commercial driving with no modifications whatsoever.

If an individual blows high, that is .15 or higher, then the suspension will be 90 days. That again cannot be modified for a CDL.

If a commercial driver’s license holder refuses to submit to a breathalyzer test, that will trigger a one-year suspension of the CDL, as well as a 120-day suspension of a regular driver’s license. There is going to be significantly more intense penalties for the commercial driver’s license holders than for regular driver’s license holders. That is not based on being charged in criminal court. That is based on administrative penalties.

Sentencing Standards for CDL Drivers

I haven’t seen judges make any significant difference in sentencing CDL holders versus non-CDL holders. It is not really going to be the judicial penalty that hurts the CDL holders, but it is going to be the administrative penalties issued by the MVA. In that sense, the MVA holds CDL holders to higher standards and that is really the result of the Federal Motor Carrier Regulations.

Restricted Licenses for CDL Holders

There is no restricted license available available for CDL holders. There are no modifications of suspensions of a driver’s license for CDL holders.

Federal Motor Carriers explicitly prohibits that.

How a Maryland CDL DUI Lawyer Can Help

An attorney can be extremely helpful in that regard. An attorney can advise a CDL holder on how to best challenge the administrative suspension of the driver’s license and the attorney can represent him at the hearing. The attorney can make legal or factual arguments to the administrative law judge as to why the commercial driver’s license should not be suspended. That is going to have a huge impact on the ability to work with a CDL.

Additionally, there are some court outcomes that can trigger additional losses of commercial driver’s licenses. In Maryland, generally first-time DUI offenders will see something called probation before judgment, which means that the conviction is not actually placed on their driving records. It does not count as a conviction for the purpose of point assessment or anything else.

However, for commercial driver’s license holders, the Federal Motor Carrier regulations do not allow probation before judgment to mask a DUI conviction, meaning that even if an individual receives probation before judgment—which otherwise would not have any effect on the driver’s license for a DUI—a commercial driver’s license holder does not get the benefit of that shield. If they get PBJ, it will be functioned as if they were convicted of a DUI for loss of CDL purposes and that will trigger an additional suspension of their driving privileges.

What are the long term implications of a DUI conviction on a CDL holder?

It is going to make it extremely difficult for that CDL holder to find employment. Most employers do not want people operating commercial motor vehicles to have any history of drunk driving whatsoever. Having a DUI conviction, even an old one, can have a significant impact on an individual’s employability while trying to use one’s commercial driver’s license.

Second or subsequent DUI offenses will make things even worse. There are many companies that will not employ individuals no matter what if they have two DUIs—even if the DUIs are extremely old. Having multiple DUI convictions can cause a significant impact on an individual’s employability.