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Commercial Drivers Face Strict DWI Penalties

Some people choose the path of least resistance in the wake of a driving while impaired (DWI) arrest, presuming the offense is nothing more than an embarrassing incident comparable to a traffic violation. This is an inaccurate assumption, especially for commercial drivers.

While anyone arrested for DWI should seek legal advice from an experienced DWI attorney, doing so is particularly important for commercial drivers. A DWI conviction can result in jail or prison time, stiff fines, court expenses, probation, and a criminal record. It can also lead to the loss of your driver’s license, putting your very livelihood at risk.

Commercial drivers are subject to strict DWI limits

If you are a commercial truck driver in Minnesota, you are subject to far more stringent standards for driving while impaired (DWI). While a non-commercial motorist is not considered over the DWI legal threshold until he or she has a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 percent or above, a commercial driver of a tractor-trailer will be considered over the legal limit with a .04 percent BAC. In other words, the legal limit for truck drivers that operate in Minnesota is half that of other motorists.

Commercial drivers face serious DWI penalties

Along with more stringent DWI standards, motorists with a commercial driver’s license (CDL) also face more serious penalties if convicted of a DWI. If a person with a Minnesota CDL is convicted of a DWI, he or she will be disqualified from driving a commercial vehicle for one year. A second conviction will result in lifetime disqualification of your CDL. However, reinstatement can be sought under certain conditions once ten years have passed.

Commercial drivers can even be impacted by DWI when off-duty

This driver’s license restriction applies even if the offense is committed while the commercial driver is off-duty and driving his or her private passenger car. If you refuse to submit to a BAC chemical test of breath, blood, or urine, you will still face the same disqualification period. If you are a truck driver who is in the process of transporting hazardous materials during a stop, you will face loss of your driving privileges for three years. Drivers will face separate revocations for their personal drivers license and for their CDL, however, the CDL revocations are much more punitive.

There is no restricted license for commercial drivers convicted of DWI

DWI convictions can cause severe hardships for all motorists, but Minnesota’s drunk driving laws can have a particularly devastating impact on truckers and others who make a living behind the wheel of a commercial vehicle.

Although non-commercial drivers can obtain a restricted license that permits a motorist to continue to drive to work, this option is not available for reinstatement of a commercial driver’s license. This means that you will be unable to continue working in your chosen occupation until you have completed the term of your disqualification. Further, the presence of a DWI conviction on your permanent record will make it difficult for you to obtain future employment in the trucking industry because of liability and insurance issues for the parent company. 

If you have been arrested for a DWI in Minnesota, we invite you to speak to a Twin Cities Criminal Defense Attorney at Gerald Miller, P.A. as soon as possible. The sooner you contact us the sooner we can start protecting your rights. Contact us today to schedule your free and confidential case evaluation.


About the author

Gerald Miller

Gerald Miller is a top-notch and experienced DWI/DUI lawyer at Gerald Miller P.A. in Minneapolis, MN. He has more than 35 years of experience in Criminal Defense practice. He has also been a mentor to numerous DUI/DWI defense attorneys.

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