Navigating the legal system can be challenging, especially without the help of an attorney. Many areas of the law are murky at best and can be interpreted differently by different people. One area that seems to be especially confusing is the punishments for those convicted of driving under the influence and hold a commercial driver’s license.
TENNESSEE LAW STATES:
If a person has a CDL and they are convicted of a DUI, first offense with a blood alcohol level of .04 or greater (other controlled substances included) while driving a commercial motor vehicle, their CDL will be suspended for one year.
If a person has a CDL and they are convicted of a DUI, second offense with a blood alcohol level of .04 or greater (other controlled substances included) while driving a commercial motor vehicle, their CDL will be suspended for life, or a period of at least 10 years.
Tennessee Law is fairly clear about the punishments for DUI convictions while driving a commercial motor vehicle; however, there are “hidden” regulations within the law that many are surprised to learn. Even though Tennessee Law does not state that a person will lose their CDL if they are convicted of DUI while driving a personal motor vehicle, the Tennessee Department of Safety will suspend a CDL if a person is convicted of DUI while driving a personal motor vehicle. No exceptions. This is because the Code of Federal Regulations states that “CDL holders are, unlike most licensed passenger car drivers, professional drivers” and that “CDL drivers should not engage in risky, unsafe behavior while pursuing their profession—driving.”
According to federal regulations, a loss of CDL will occur for those who are convicted of DUI with equal punishment, even if they are convicted while driving a personal motor vehicle. For example, if a CDL holder is convicted of DUI, first offense while driving their personal motor vehicle and lose their driver license for a period of one year, they will also lose their CDL for one year. The same is true for a DUI, second offense in a personal motor vehicle, which results in a lifetime suspension. Although the law is often times difficult to understand and interpret, the Tennessee Department of Safety outlines the consequences clearly in the Commercial Driver’s License Manual: “If you are convicted of a second violation in your personal vehicle or commercial motor vehicle, you will lose your CDL for life.” Understanding the law is especially important if your career is on the line and seeking experienced legal advice can be the difference between losing your CDL and saving your career.