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It’s frustrating and inconvenient to temporarily lose your driving privileges after a DWI conviction in Minnesota. But for someone who drives for work – such as a truck driver, cab driver or bus driver – the impact of a DWI license revocation is much more than a nuisance. It can affect their livelihood for years to come. Getting a DUI with a cdl in a personal vehicle is an issue to be dealt with seriously and delicately.

Minnesota driving laws are tough – but the state’s DWI laws are especially strict for men and women who drive for a living.

In Minnesota, motorists who have earned a commercial driver’s license, also known as a CDL, are held to a higher standard and are placed under more scrutiny than regular motorists who drive for personal transportation.

For regular drivers, the state BAC legal limit is 0.08 percent. But for those with a CDL, the BAC is half that – only 0.04 percent. Some toxicology experts say that for some people, depending on their weight and whether they are a man or a woman, a BAC of 0.04 percent can result from a drink or two. That’s a glass of wine at dinner with family.

Unfair? Yes. But it’s the way the law is written in Minnesota. That’s why if you drive for work, you need an Minnesota DWI attorney with experience in retaining a CDL license and avoiding a DWI conviction if possible.

There are many types of jobs that require a commercial driver’s license, including:

  • School bus driver
  • City bus driver
  • Taxi driver
  • Delivery truck driver
  • Heavy equipment hauler
  • Truck drivers (semi-trailer, also known as OTR drivers).

It’s not easy to get a CDL license in Minnesota – or anywhere, really, because federal transportation standards usually apply in addition to state requirements and regulations.

A CDL in Minnesota is broken down in three classes, according to the state’s Department of Public Safety:

– Class A: Any vehicle that weighs more than 10,000 pounds GVWR with a gross combination weight rating of more than 26,000 pounds.

– Class B: A single-unit vehicle that is more than 26,000 pounds GVWR.

– Class C: A single-unit vehicle of less than 26,000 pounds GVWR, with a hazardous materials, passenger or school bus endorsement.

What Happens After a DWI Conviction in Minneapolis and Minnesota?

Under Minnesota law, a motorist with a class A, B or C commercial driver’s license is likely to lose his or her driving privileges if convicted of a DWI – even if the person is cited for DUI with a CDL in a personal vehicle.

Losing Your CDL for One Year After a DUI with a CDL in a Personal Vehicle

CDL driver risk losing their driver’s license for one year if they are convicted of a DWI in Minnesota; those who haul hazardous materials can lose their right to drive for even longer.

Under state statute, even a first violation means the year-long loss of a CDL; it’s a three-year revocation if the driver is transporting hazardous materials at the time of the arrest.

Losing Your CDL for Life in Minneapolis and Minnesota

A commercial driver could lose his or her CDL for life if convicted of a second DUI with a CDL in a personal vehicle.

Jail Time After a DUI with a CDL in a Personal Vehicle

Jail time and fines are additional criminal consequences of a DWI in Minnesota. At the same time, you could face a civil lawsuit for damages if your DWI resulted in a crash and/or injuries to another motorist or passenger.

Criminal and civil penalties stemming from a DWI in the state of Minnesota can affect your ability to find a new job, obtain an apartment or even quality for federal student financial aid. Those are all really negative and potentially life-changing consequences.

Required Reporting of DWI to Your Employer

But for many, that’s not all that’s at stake. If you have a CDL and drive for a living, a DWI conviction in Minnesota can affect that, too – even if it’s a first-time misdemeanor. A DWI conviction will require a commercial driver to report the conviction to an employer. That can be a potentially embarrassing experience for anyone.

The bottom line is, if you are a CDL driver and get pulled over after drinking and are convicted of a DWI, you risk losing your job and having to change careers. Finding a new job can be challenging with a drunk driving conviction.

Heed this warning: if you drive without a valid commercial driver’s license and get pulled over, you face a $5,000 fine and jail time. Your boss could get in trouble if he or she tells you to driver a commercial vehicle despite the revocation. Like with non-commercial motorists, a DWI conviction stays on your record for years.

Any CDL driver who is facing a DWI conviction needs to know the rules so that he or she, along with an experienced Minnesota drunk driving attorney, can do everything possible to fight the charge and the potentially negative consequences that come along with it.

What to Do After Being Cited for DWI with a CDL

If you have a commercial driver’s license and have been cited for a DWI in Minnesota, it is imperative that you speak to a Minneapolis drunk driving attorney. He or she can let you know your rights and help you determine if the police have a valid case. Protecting your job is crucial – you need your job to provide for your family. Don’t let a DWI conviction harm your livelihood. The sooner you address it, the better. You don’t want to risk a single day that you won’t be able to work and earn the money you need to grow, prosper and survive.

Every case is unique. A Twin Cities criminal law expert with experience in DWI cases can help you fight the charges so they don’t affect your driving ability, your finances and your professional reputation. It’s crucial that you take steps to ensure your professional license remains valid and intact, so you can move on with your life and put the DWI citation far behind you.

Don’t let one mistake ruin your credibility in your professional field. We know you’ve worked hard to get where you’re at. And we can help you move forward.

Other Consequences for a DWI Conviction

The loss of driving privileges is a serious consequence for a professional driver. Losing a CDL means losing the ability to earn a living for some people, and the financial hardship that follows can be significant. That said, there are many other consequences that can come with a DWI conviction.

The statutory penalties are an important part of the consequences for a DWI conviction. These statutory penalties earn their name because they result directly from the DWI statute. However, there are other consequences outside of jail time and fines. These are known as collateral consequences.

Collateral consequences take many forms. The severity of these consequences could depend largely on the type of DWI conviction you are facing. Felony convictions generally carry much steeper consequences than misdemeanors or gross misdemeanors.

Felony DWIs

For felony DWIs, some of the steepest consequences relate to your constitutional rights. If you are guilty of a felony, you will no longer be able to exercise certain rights including owning a firearm or voting in a federal election. While these consequences only apply to felonies, there are others that apply to all DWI convictions.

One serious collateral consequence that could impact anyone convicted of a DWI involves difficulty finding employment. Employers are entitled to discriminate based on your criminal history, and there is little to prevent an employer for firing your based on a conviction. Some other common examples of collateral consequences for DWI convictions include:

  • Difficulty securing housing
  • Loss of professional licenses
  • Social stigma
  • Custody implications
  • Immigration consequences

Establishing Guilt in a DUI With a CDL in a Personal Vehicle Case

For individuals with a commercial drivers’ license, the state has numerous options for proving guilt of DWI. This is because the threshold for a per se DWI case is much lower for the driver of a commercial vehicle compared to other motorists. In total, there are seven options available to state prosecutors for establishing guilt in a DWI case. These options include:

  • the person is under the influence of alcohol;
  • the person is under the influence of a controlled substance;
  • the person is under the influence of an intoxicating substance and the person knows or has reason to know that the substance has the capacity to cause impairment;
  • the person is under the influence of a combination of any two or more of the elements named in clauses (1) to (3);
  • the person’s alcohol concentration at the time, or as measured within two hours of the time, of driving, operating, or being in physical control of the motor vehicle is 0.08 or more;
  • the vehicle is a commercial motor vehicle and the person’s alcohol concentration at the time, or as measured within two hours of the time, of driving, operating, or being in physical control of the commercial motor vehicle is 0.04 or more; or
  • the person’s body contains any amount of a controlled substance listed in Schedule I or II, or its metabolite, other than marijuana or tetrahydrocannabinols.

It is worth nothing that one of these seven options applies specifically to the operator of a commercial vehicle. Under the 6th prong of the statute, a commercial vehicle operator could be found guilty of DWI if their blood alcohol concentration measures .04 or more. This legal limit is twice as strict as the one that applies to other motorists.

There are obvious reasons why commercial drivers are held to steeper standards. Accidents involving commercial vehicles are often severe, and these large vehicles have the ability to cause significant damage compared to a personal vehicle.

It is worth noting that while one of these elements of the statute applies specifically to commercial drivers, the state can use any of these to pursue a DWI case against the driver of a commercial vehicle. This wide range of options is important for cases where a commercial driver refuses to submit to a chemical test.

Minnesota DWI Criminal Defense Lawyer Can Help Protect Your CDL

Everyone deserves the right to the best defense available and this is why an experienced attorney serving the Minnesota, including the Minneapolis metro area, is absolutely vital.

DWI and DUI are serious offenses. In addition to the danger you pose to yourself and others, you also expose yourself to severe penalties, including a heavy fine, court costs, insurance surcharges, motor vehicle surcharges, loss of license and even a jail term. Since these penalties are significant and create a negative record that could affect your ability to get a job, obtain insurance and generally get on with your life, you should consult an experienced attorney who is dedicated to the field of DWI and DUI defense.

At Gerald Miller, we focus on DWI and DUI cases and ensure you receive the best legal representation from the moment you contact us. We will look at all aspects of your case in great detail. You need this level of legal counsel because driving under the influence cases can be the most difficult ones in which to obtain a successful outcome.

A DWI or DUI charge can happen to anybody. We believe everyone should be treated equally.

Call the attorneys at Gerald Miller today at 612-440-4610. Our lines are open 24 hours. We are here waiting to help you immediately. The attorneys at Gerald Miller also can help you with a non-DWI criminal charge and other areas in which skilled legal advice is needed.

The attorneys at Gerald Miller, P.A., will work hard to protect your legal rights. Call us today at (612) 440-3212 and schedule your free and confidential consultation. We are available seven days a week. We are on your side.

What do you think? Should CDL drivers be held to a higher standard than motorists who don’t drive for a living? Post your comments below! 

Article originally published on April 5, 2018 and updated on September 14, 2021.

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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