The legislation concerning CDLs is even more complicated than a regular DUI. For a good review of the consequences of a DUI and CDL listen to this podcast.
Legislation found in Washington statutes are a reflection of the Federal guidelines governing CDLs. Recently, the federal rules have been changed to prevent masking of infractions and criminal charges relating to CDL.
The so called "limit" of alcohol while operating a Commercial Motor Vehicle (CMV) is .04. While this limit exists it is misleading because there is no real limit. Rather, alcohol consumption and CDLs is practically zero tolerance. This is the case because the .04 limit is set forth by the DoL. If a driver is operating a CMV, and is investigated for commercial DUI, the DoL will seek to disqualify the CDL for 1 year. If the breath sample is below a .04. or the two samples provide results where one sample is under .04 and the other is above .04 there will be no action as both sample must be at or above .04. If both are above then the driver needs to trigger a hearing and contact an experienced DUI lawyer.
If the samples are split over the threshold of .04, then there will still be criminal action despite the lack of the DoL action. This is because the DUI CMV statute prohibits the presence of alcohol in the driver's system. This is a crime where the presence of odor can be the evidence used to convict a driver defendant. The conviction will also carry with it not only criminal sanctions of punishment up to a year in jail and a fine up to 5000.00, but there will then be a DoL action against the CDL of the driver based upon the conviction.
There is no statutory set punishment for CDL DUI convictions like the regular non-CDL DUI statute. The consequences, however, require the loss of a CDL for at least a year and few can recover from the loss of a career. In addition, unlike a regular DUI, a CDL holder will be able to drive a personal vehicle but unable to drive a Commercial Vehicle even with a special license called an Ignition Interlock License (IIL). This special license is provided to suspended or revoked drivers who suffer a suspension/revocation from a regular DUI, but not so for the CDL holder.
While this site attempts to be clear, concise and thorough in providing DUI information, if you or someone you know is facing a DUI, CDL or otherwise contacting an experienced DUI attorney is highly recommended.