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DUI With a CDL (Commercial Driver's License)

In recent years, the federal government has taken steps to ensure uniform requirements for Commercial Driver’s Licenses (CDL) throughout the United States. By threatening to withhold federal highway money from the States the federal government is forcing the States to pass new laws or amend current laws to toughen penalties for commercial drivers. Georgia has succumbed to this pressure and amended Georgia’s laws concerning commercial drivers to be almost identical to the federal regulations.

Under these new laws, even in those states which (unlike Georgia) permit a deferred sentence resulting in no conviction, the charge will be counted as a conviction for purposes of your CDL. If you enter a guilty plea or a no contest plea, the charge will be counted as a conviction for purposes of your CDL.

The Department of Driver Services will disqualify you from operating a commercial vehicle for a period of one year if you are driving or in actual physical control of a commercial vehicle with a blood or breath alcohol level of .04 or more. If you refuse to take a chemical test following your arrest for DUI, you will also face a one-year disqualification.

Your CDL will be suspended if you are operating any motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol or any other intoxicating substances or combination thereof. The same is true if you refuse testing while operating any vehicle. In the case of the former, you may have a class C operator’s license reinstated after 120 days if you are convicted. In the case of the latter, you will not have any driving privileges for one year unless you obtain a non-DUI disposition. This means if you are driving your personal vehicle and are convicted of DUI, the State will suspend your CDL for one year.

If you are driving a commercial vehicle which requires a placard for hazardous material and your commercial driver’s license is suspended for the reasons outlined in the previous two paragraphs, the suspension period is increased to three years. A second conviction for DUI, a second refusal to submit to testing, or a combination of the two arising from two or more separate incidents will in most circumstances result in a lifetime CDL disqualification. The only exception is if the prior offense occurred prior to 2003 and before you obtained your CDL.

If you are thinking that a DUI is “no big deal,” you may want to reconsider. Georgia does not allow any kind of “limited permit” or “work permit” for a CDL. If you are convicted of DUI and have a commercial driver’s license, you will not be able to work driving a commercial vehicle for one year. After that, you may have a great deal of difficulty getting a job because your insurance costs will be astronomical. A conviction for DUI can have a lifetime effect on your ability to make a living.

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