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DUI With a Commercial Drivers License in California

Under California law, it is unlawful for any person to drive a vehicle with a blood alcohol content of 0.08 or higher. However, it is only unlawful for any person who has 0.04 or more blood alcohol content to drive a commercial vehicle. California does not define what a commercial vehicle constitutes. Rather, a commercial vehicle is anything that is not: a recreational vehicle, military equipment operated for military purposes by civilian or noncivilian personnel, an implement of husbandry operated by a person who is not required to obtain a driver license, a person who operates a hazardous waste vehicle, and vehicles used for emergency situations.

Once the prosecutor shows that the motorist was driving a commercial vehicle and that the motorist had a 0.04 blood alcohol content, it creates a presumption that the motorist was under the influence when she operated a commercial vehicle.

Under California law, it is unlawful for any person who is addicted to the use of any drug to drive a commercial vehicle. There is no level needed to convict a motorist of driving under the influence of drugs. Furthermore, California makes no distinction between illicit drugs (i.e. cocaine) and prescription drugs (i.e. Lipitor). Any drug that affects the nervous system, the brain, or muscles of the individual as to impair to an applicable degree the ability to operate a vehicle in a manner likes that of an ordinarily prudent and cautious person in full possession of his faculties.

In a prosecution of driving a commercial vehicle under the influence of drugs, it is not enough that the drug could be detected or could impair an individual’s ability. Rather, the prosecutor has to show that the drug actually impaired the motorist’s driving ability. However, a motorist cannot be convicted of driving under the influence of drugs if she is participating in a narcotic treatment program. Moreover, a motorist cannot be convicted of being under the influence of Methadone, Levoalphacetlymethadol, Buprenophrine products or combination products approved by the Food and Drug Administration for opoid dependence, and any other drugs used in connection of a narcotic replacement treatment. If motorist is caught driving under the influence of these drugs and not in a narcotic treatment program, she can be prosecuted for DUI.


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