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What to do when Arrested for DUI with a CDL (Arizona Commercial Drivers License)

If you have a commercial driver’s license (CDL) and are arrested for a DUI in your personal vehicle, it’s going to have an impact on your license. Today I’m going to walk you through potential outcomes of a Phoenix DUI and discuss your options for dealing with a DUI with a CDL.

If you’re stopped while driving and willingly provide a blood, breath or urine test above .08 percent Blood Alcohol Content (BAC), your license will be suspended for 90 days. Instead, if you meet certain criteria, you may be eligible for a 30/60 day permit. A 30/60 day permit means 30 days of no driving and 60 days of driving restricted to going to and from work, school or a doctor’s office. This is preferable to a 90-day suspension. This suspension is called an “Administrative Per Se” suspension, or “admin per se” for short. In order to qualify for the restricted driving permit after the first 30 days, you’ll have to go through alcohol screening. As part of this process, they’ll tell you that you need to take a certain amount of classes, but completing these classes isn’t required to get the 30/60 permit.

Law enforcement officers may obtain a warrant to compel you to provide a test sample if you aren’t willing to volunteer one. The default suspension for forcing them to get a warrant, called a refusal, is much longer than if you comply. Under implied consent laws (laws that state you agree to BAC testing by driving), your license will be suspended for a full year. This is called an implied consent suspension, and like the admin per se suspension, it can be commuted to a three-month/nine-month permit. Like the 30/60 permit, this allows driving to work, school or a doctor for the last nine months and requires an alcohol screening. You’ll also need an SR-22. An SR-22 will increase your insurance rates and allow your insurance company to “rat you out” if your insurance ever expires.

As an additional requirement, you’ll have to put an interlock device or breath-testing device on your car’s steering wheel. In order to start your car or continue driving it, you’ll have to blow into this device every 15 minutes. If you fail to blow into it every 15 minutes, your engine will turn off. Every 90 days, you’ll have to take the car in to have the chip in the interlock or breath-testing reviewed to make sure you never blew above a .020 BAC. This BAC requirement has built-in leeway to account for alcohol that may be contained in medicines or absorbed through methods other than drinking. It’s below the BAC most people blow after a single drink, so if you have any drinks and drive, you’ll fail the review.

That covers the DMV components of a DUI. What’s our advice if you get pulled over while driving and you’re facing a DUI with a CDL? We always advise people that, if they’re in their own, personal vehicle, they should submit to a blood, breath or urine test if they’ve never been cited with a DUI before. On the second offense, if it’s within seven years of the first offense, we also advise people to submit to the test because you’re still eligible for the restricted driving permit. In the case of a third offense, while driving on a suspended license, or if you have someone under 15 years of age with you, don’t submit to the test. If any of those conditions are met, the DUI offense becomes a felony instead, and it’s better to make the police get a warrant before submitting to a blood, breath or urine test.

If you have a clean record and you’re in your own, personal vehicle you’re likely to get hit with a one-year CDL disqualification if the DUI is upheld (read more information about: Arizona DUI Penalties and Arizona DUI Fines) . What exactly does that mean? Your Class A license will be downgraded to a Class D, or regular driver’s license. As long as you adhere to the terms of your 30/60 permit, you can apply to have your Class A status reinstated after one year. But, there’s a kicker: if you are convicted of a DUI at any time after you started your CDL suspension but before the one-year disqualification period is up, that period starts over again. The conviction could come three months, six months, or a year and a half after the initial date of disqualification. It doesn’t matter; the disqualification period will be reset.

Because of the one-year disqualification, it’s important to try to beat the Phoenix DUI charge and suspension. An experienced Phoenix DUI attorney, like the attorneys at DM Cantor, are familiar with the laws and can help you try to avoid a conviction and lengthy CDL suspension.

The advice we try to always give people, if they’re stopped for a DUI with a CDL, is to give the same answer to police no matter what question they ask: “I’m not going to answer any questions or take any test until I talk to my lawyer.” It doesn’t matter if they’re asking whether you’ve been drinking, if you robbed a bank, or if you killed 10 people, the answer you give should always be the same. By giving police this answer, you’re telling the truth and haven’t confessed to any crime. Instead, give us a call and we can provide more specific guidance based on the exact nature of your situation.

Even before getting pulled over, take my advice if you’re out, you’ve been out drinking and you have a CDL: the instant you order a third beer or third any kind of drink, commit to calling a cab or arranging for UBER or a friend to pick you up. Don’t risk a Phoenix DUI. Driving is your livelihood. Even a short CDL suspension can cause serious financial problems on top of the costs of the DUI, and it’s not worth the risk.

If you’ve been charged with or arrested for a DUI with a CDL, or a friend or loved one has found themselves in this situation, give us a call. We’re happy to meet with you for free. The consultation doesn’t cost anything but 30 minutes of your time, and we’ll go over every detail of your case, from top to bottom, in our office. We can answer questions and concerns about how CDLs are affected by DUI allegations and help you make the best choices for your career and livelihood.

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