New Jersey residents who hold commercial driver’s licenses might be interested in learning about the differences between DUIs filed against professional drivers and charges levied against the non-commercial drivers. The commercial driver category encompasses a wide variety of drivers, including any person who owns or leases commercial motor vehicles.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration holds those with CDLs to high standards because of the higher risk of injury associated with negligent or reckless behavior, and many states have incorporated FMCSA regulations into state law. Under such schemes, CDL holders who are charged with a DUI become involved in the same proceedings as other defendants. However, blood alcohol content limits for commercial drivers are usually lowered to .04 percent rather than the typical .08 percent.

If convicted, commercial drivers might face license suspension periods that are longer than those levied against other defendants. In addition, a DUI conviction on a CDL holder’s record might make it difficult for them to seek employment in their field. These two penalties could have serious repercussions on the driver’s financial situation. Commercial drivers are also effectively barred from refusing to submit to a BAC test because that refusal is considered the same as pleading guilty to DUI under FMCSA rules.

When faced with such charges and the potential penalties, a defendant might choose to work with a criminal defense attorney who is familiar with FMCSA regulations and DUI charges. That attorney might be able to devise a strategy that seeks to defend the client from a conviction and the financial instability that might accompany extended license suspensions or criminal records.