Drivers in New York State operating with commercial driver’s licenses (CDLs) are governed by additional, more strict laws than passenger car drivers when it comes to moving violations and drinking and driving. For instance, if you get caught driving while intoxicated (DWI) or while impaired (DUIA), your commercial driving career may be over. That is why it is essential to know the unique laws applicable to CDL drivers and the penalties.
If you are ever charged with a DUI or DWI, it is important to remember that there are options available to you. Similarly, if you receive a moving violation while driving a commercial vehicle, you should likewise seek professional advice. One of the best things you can do is contact an experienced traffic attorney who has helped other clients in similar situations get their charges dismissed or reduced.
At Weiss & Associates, PC, our team of attorneys has helped countless CDL drivers assess their cases and find the best way to dismiss or reduce their charges. Contact us today at 212-683-7373 for a free consultation if you have been charged with DWI or DUI while driving a commercial vehicle.
What is a CDL in New York State?
If you are planning to drive a commercial motor vehicle (CMV), then it is essential that you understand the CDL laws.
A CDL is required to operate any commercial vehicle in New York State, including trucks or vans weighing more than 26,000 pounds. There are also smaller “special purpose” CMVs, such as short-haul trucks and buses. To drive these smaller vehicles, drivers need to obtain an appropriate Class A or B endorsement on their existing CDLs.
You must have a CDL if you:
- Want to drive a CMV in New York State;
- Plan on transporting hazardous materials; or
- You are going to be driving across state lines with your commercial vehicle.
CDL Penalties for DWI in New York
A DWI charge applicable to all types of drivers involves blood alcohol content (BAC) is .08 or higher or other evidence of intoxication while a DUI is .05 to under .08. However, the threshold for commercial motor vehicle drivers is only 0.4 BAC or higher. However, you might still be placed out-of-service for at least 24 hours if any detectable amount of alcohol under .04 is found. A 0.18 BAC or higher is considered aggravated driving while intoxicated, a more serious offense.
Penalties for passenger drivers with alcohol or drug-related violations include:
- For driving while impaired by alcohol (DUIA): A mandatory fine, possible jail time, and a 90-day suspension of license.
- For driving while intoxicated or impaired by a drug (DWI): A mandatory fine of up to $1,000, up to 1 year of jail time, and revocation of license for up to six months.
- or driving while intoxicated or impaired by a drug (DWI): A mandatory fine of up to $1,000, up to 1 year of jail time, and revocation of license for up to six months.
- For aggravated driving, while intoxicated (AGG DWI): A mandatory fine of up to $2,500, up to 1 year jail time, and revocation of license for at least one year.
- For refusing a chemical test: A mandatory fine of $550 and revocation of license for at least 18 months.
Commercial Driver DUI/DWI Second Offense
A commercial driver will be subject to harsher penalties. Anyone with a suspended or revoked driver’s license in New York is not eligible for a CDL. Additionally, a CDL driver may not apply to regain your CDL for at least 1 year after a DWI conviction. A second DWI conviction can result in a lifetime ban. Commercial drivers become repeat offenders immediately; regular drivers must get repeat offenses within 10 years. Once a CDL holder has committed the offenses mentioned above, they have significantly more severe penalties.
Penalties for multiple DUI/DWI offenses include:
- For a second DWI in 10 years (E felony): A mandatory fine of up to $5,000, up to 4 years imprisonment, and revocation of license for at least one year.
- For a third DWI in 10 years (D felony): A mandatory fine of up to $10,000, up to 7 years imprisonment, and revocation of license for at least one year.
- For a second AGG DWI in 10 years (E felony): A mandatory fine of up to $5,000, up to 4 years imprisonment, and revocation of license for at least 18 months.
- For a third AGG DWI in 10 years (D felony): A mandatory fine of up to $10,000, up to 7 years imprisonment, and revocation of license for at least 18 months.
- For a chemical test refusal within 5 years of a DWI-related charge: A mandatory $750 civil penalty and permanent CDL revocation for commercial drivers.
Out-of-State CDL DUI/DWI Offenses
For New York residents convicted of a drug or alcohol-related driving offense out-of-state, there are still harsh penalties that can affect their record. According to the New York DMV, out-of-state penalties for driving under the influence include:
- Revocation of license for at least 90 days with no prior record; or
- Revocation of license for at least 90 days or at least one year with previous alcohol-drug violations.
CDL DUI/DWI Impact On Regular License
Federal and state laws require a CDL holder to be disqualified from operating a CMV if convicted of a specific moving violation in their personal vehicle. These include leaving an accident scene, alcohol and drug violations involving your personal vehicle (1-year loss of CDL for the first offense and lifetime loss for the second offense), and felonies involving a motor vehicle.
In addition, if your regular license is revoked or suspended for drug or alcohol-related violations, you will lose your CDL for at least one year. Furthermore, if you are convicted of a second violation in your vehicle, you will lose your CDL for life.
CDLs and New York Traffic Tickets
A CDL will be suspended for 60 days if you are convicted of 2 “serious traffic violations” within a 36-month period involving a CVM. The two serious charges must arise out of separate incidents. Your CDL will be suspended for 120 days if you are convicted of 3 serious traffic violations within a 36-month period involving a CMV.
For a CDL holder, these penalties apply for serious traffic violations occurring within or without the state. Further, if you are convicted of a traffic violation outside of New York (except parking), you are required to report it to the New York DMV within 30 days of being convicted.
Below is the list of what constitutes a “serious traffic violation”:
- Speeding 15+ mph over the limit
- Reckless driving
- Unsafe or Improper lane changes
- Following too closely
- Any traffic violation committed while involved in a fatal traffic accident
- Operating a CMV without a CDL
The above is only a “serious traffic violation” if you are driving a CMV at the time of the offense (as opposed to a passenger car or SUV). The only exceptions to the above rule are for convictions of leaving the scene of an accident, alcohol and drug violations involving your personal vehicle (1-year loss of CDL for the first offense and lifetime loss for the second offense), and felonies involving a motor vehicle. Of course, all NY moving violation convictions involving a private vehicle do affect your regular New York driver’s license.
Protect Your CDL
In conclusion, if you are operating a commercial vehicle, it is important to remember that drunk driving and impaired driving penalties can be much more severe than those faced by other drivers. If you are arrested for DWI or DUI while driving a CMV, then your CDL will be suspended or revoked.
You need legal representation to protect your privileges if you have a commercial driver’s license and have been charged with a DWI or DUI. Since 1991, our law firm has fought many of these types of cases. Contact us today at 212-683-7373 for a free consultation.