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Why are DUI regulations more stringent for CDL drivers?

You probably celebrated when you joined the ranks of Pennsylvania residents and workers who carry commercial driver's licenses. Perhaps getting your CDL was just the break you were waiting for to get a good job to help pay off your college loans. You might also be one of many commercial vehicle operators who enjoys being on the road, traveling and meeting new people every day. As you prepared for your CDL test, you no doubt learned about various regulations that are somewhat different (and stricter) than those governing non-commercial driving.

For instance, commercial vehicle drivers are generally held to much higher standards where driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol is concerned. If you're convicted of DUI while driving a commercial vehicle, or simply carrying a CDL even if the vehicle you were driving when you got pulled over was not a commercial truck, your commercial driver's license may be greatly at risk.

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration regulations

The FMCSA establishes the parameters for safe driving when it comes to those who hold commercial driver's licenses. If you act in the capacity of one or more of the following, you may be subject to FMCSA regulations:

  • If you are an official driver of a civic organization, such as a disabled military veterans' group or a Girl Scouts program, etc., you will be held to the same high standards to which all other commercial drivers must adhere.
  • Any driver with a CDL who is transporting church groups may incur severe penalties under conviction of DUI.
  • Even if you are not a commercial vehicle driver but are an employer who leases or owns commercial vehicles and/or assigns operators to commercial vehicle transport missions, you may also be subject to FMCSA regulations.

FMCSA rules are strict due to the nature of many commercial driving jobs. Whether you are transporting a vehicle full of children and their chaperones, or are hauling hazardous cargo, such as fuel or other flammable materials, the FMCSA considers the risk of harm to the general population higher than the average risk associated with non-commercial driving.

If your blood alcohol registers .04 or higher in a chemical test, a court can convict you of DUI. With a CDL, if you refuse to take a Breathalyzer or other chemical test when a police officer lawfully requests it, the court may treat your refusal as admission of guilt. The easiest way to avoid DUI problems as a CDL carrier is to understand and adhere to all FMCSA regulations; it's also a good idea to know ahead of time where to turn for legal assistance, if needed.

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