Commercial Drivers License and DUI in North Carolina
North Carolina law imposes a slightly different standard on commercial vehicle drivers than on those driving non-commercial vehicles, which can be found at NC Gen. Stat. § 20-138.2. All elements required for a conviction of a DUI under the commercial vehicle standard are the same as for non-commercial DUI except that a driver is considered in violation of the law at a BAC of .04% rather than .08% and the prosecutor must prove that the vehicle was a commercial vehicle. Just as with non-commercial DUI law, a driver of a commercial vehicle may still be convicted with a BAC below the statutory level or if they have any amount of Schedule I substance in his/her blood or urine. The penalties for violation of this statute are the same as those for conviction of a non-commercial DUI.
Recognizing that commercial vehicles often represent a greater danger to the public when operated by a driver who is under the influence, the North Carolina legislature has codified a lesser-included offense of commercial DUI, operating a commercial vehicle while consuming alcohol. For be convicted of this offense, it must simply be shown that a commercial vehicle driver was driving a commercial vehicle on a public vehicular area while consuming or with any amount of alcohol in his or her system. Although this is an implied consent offense, a conviction is not considered a DUI, and the punishment for a first offense is a $100.00 fine. However, for a second offense within a seven year period, the driver will be subject to the same penalties as are imposed for a DUI. It is important to note that the odor of alcohol is insufficient for a conviction under this statute, but an alcohol screening test is allowed to test for the presence of alcohol in the driver’s body.
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