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Commercial Drivers License and DUI in Ohio

It is illegal in the State of Ohio to drive a commercial vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. The legal BAC limit for commercial drivers is 0.04%. This means that if you are driving a commercial vehicle when a law enforcement officer stops you, your BAC must be below 0.04% in order to be driving legally. However, if you are a commercial vehicle driver, your CDL license can also be affected if you are stopped in your regular vehicle with an illegal BAC (0.08% for motor vehicles). Your CDL license will also be in jeopardy if you use your car in the commission of a felony or refuse to submit to a blood, breath or urine test under the implied consent law. All of these offenses are first-degree misdemeanors.

The penalties mentioned above for regular DUI still apply to driving a commercial vehicle under the influence. However, in addition to the penalties imposed by the court, if you are licensed to drive commercial vehicles, the registrar of motor vehicles will also suspend or revoke your CDL license. Upon your first DUI conviction, the registrar for motor vehicles will suspend your CDL for one year. Therefore if you have a tested BAC of 0.04% while driving a commercial vehicle or are convicted of a regular DUI in your car while off-duty, your CDL will be suspended for a year. If you refuse to take a BAC test (blood, breath or urine) or commit a felony in your commercial vehicle, this will also suspend your CDL for a year. If you are transporting hazardous materials according to Ohio law when you are arrested for any of the above, your commercial driver’s license suspension will be increased to three years instead of one. Upon a second conviction of any of the afore mentioned crimes, your CDL license will be revoked. In other words, you will be suspended for the rest of your life from driving commercial vehicles. Obviously if this is your career the repercussions of having your CDL revoked will be numerous.

In addition to the registrar’s suspension of your CDL, you will also likely face a court suspension of your license and while the case is pending you will not be able to drive commercial vehicles. So while you can expect a year suspension of your CDL if you are convicted of driving under the influence, driving under the influence while in a commercial vehicle, refusing to submit to BAC tests or driving a commercial vehicle in commission of a felony, it is very likely that your suspension will be even longer since you cannot use your CDL until the case is decided and then you will be subject to the additional suspension determined by the court.

However, you will have a chance to request a hearing within 30 days of the notice mailing from the registrar informing you of the offense involved and the length of time for disqualification being imposed. During this hearing you will have to make a case for why you should not be disqualified from operating commercial vehicles. If you do not request a hearing within 30 days of receiving the notice then the registrar’s decision to disqualify you from driving commercial vehicles will be final. If you are disqualified from driving commercial vehicles you can apply for a normal driver’s license  (for operation of motor vehicles) but if your commercial driver’s license is suspended, you will not be able to apply for a driver’s license until the period of suspension is up.

Even if you are driving a commercial vehicle with a level below 0.04% (but still detectable on the breathalyzer) you will be placed “out of service” for twenty-four hours. Therefore, if you are a commercial driver it is best not to drive your vehicle with any sort of alcohol in your system or you could face disastrous penalties on your career.

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