Colorado Springs Commercial DUI Defense Lawyers
Commercial Driver’s License and DUI in Colorado
If you are facing a DUI allegation and you hold a commercial driver’s license, choosing the right lawyer could be the most important decision you ever make. At The Bussey Law Firm, P.C., you will find a team of lawyers with decades of combined experience, who have handled thousands of cases, and litigated countless contested issues from DMV hearings to jury trials. Attorney Timothy Bussey has served as a prosecutor in El Paso and Teller Counties, Special Assistant Attorney General for the State of Colorado, and active-duty Judge Advocate in the U.S. Air Force.
Mr. Bussey has been named among the National Trial Lawyers Top 100 Trial Lawyers in Colorado, listed in Super Lawyers®, and awarded a 10.0 Superb Rating on Avvo. You can expect skilled, aggressive, and dedicated defense when our firm takes on your case. If you are facing a commercial DUI charge, then call The Bussey Law Firm, P.C., at (719) 475-2555 today. You can’t go wrong with our track record.
How Can a DUI Affect a Commercial Driver’s License?
All DUIs can result in life-altering penalties, but particularly so for those who depend on their driver's license for their livelihood. If a person operates a commercial vehicle and is caught driving with a blood alcohol concentration over 0.04%, that’s considered DUI for commercial vehicle purposes. Pursuant to the Federal Code of Regulations, commercial drivers convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol face stiff minimum penalties.
Strict new Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regulations present a challenge to drivers who depend on their CDLs to make a living. Frustratingly, if you plea bargain your DUI or DWAI case down to minimize your penalties (avoid jail time, harsh fines, and license suspensions, e.g.), by merely accepting the conviction, you may forfeit your ability to practice your career. Additionally, refusing to take a chemical test will result in a yearlong disqualification.
First Offense vs. Second Offense
Commercial drivers need a license to work, so any DUI charge can be life-altering. Multiple commercial DUIs can leave someone unable to drive for an extended period of time, to the point where a change in careers may be required.
For a first commercial DUI offense, the penalties include the suspension of the commercial license for at least one year. For a second offense, that increases to a suspension of 10 years. If all of your work experience revolves around commercial driving, then finding a new job during that forced decade break won’t be easy. You may end up having to accept jobs that pay less than your commercial driving career, which can impact your family’s quality of life.
Thankfully, you will still be able to hold a non-commercial driver’s license, though this license may be restricted or probationary due to your previous DUI charge. Restrictions such as the completion of an alcohol treatment program or an ignition interlock device may be required for you. However, once these restrictions are adhered to, you will be able to get back on the road in a non-commercial capacity.
Commercial DUI and Hazardous Materials
Under most circumstances, a commercial driver is disqualified from having a commercial driver’s license for one full year if convicted on a first-offense DUI. However, if the vehicle being driven at the time of the DUI traffic stop was carrying hazardous materials, the CDL will be revoked for three years in a first offense.
Hazardous materials that require a Hazardous Material Safety Permit, as listed by FMCSA, include:
- Radioactive materials
- Toxic materials by inhalation
Because these goods are considered highly dangerous, their drivers must be held under tighter scrutiny. That means even one DUI offense while transporting hazardous materials could lead to you having to find a new career for several years to make ends meet. While your ability to hold a standard license will not be impacted beyond possible restrictions, a CDL revocation of three years will be incredibly harsh on your quality of life.
Alcohol Testing and Commercial DUI
In 1991, Congress passed the Omnibus Transportation Employee Testing Act, which requires drug and alcohol testing of safety-sensitive transportation employees, including commercial drivers regulated under FMCSA. All CDL drivers are subject to unannounced, random testing. Testing is also required after an accident, and when a supervisor believes that there are grounds for reasonable suspicion of intoxication.
A CDL driver who returns to work after a one-year suspension for a first DUI must also submit to drug and alcohol testing. A refusal to submit to testing is treated as if you tested positive - you will lose your commercial driver’s license. The same rule applies when a CDL driver is pulled over on suspicion of DUI and refuses to submit to blood alcohol testing at the time of the traffic stop. Refusing to take the test is essentially pleading guilty to DUI under this FMCSA regulation.
Arrested for a Commercial Driver DUI in Colorado?
If you've been charged with a DWAI or DUI, you need to take active measures to protect your Commercial Driver's License. After all, losing your CDL will have a serious impact on your ability to work, and provide for your family. Here are some steps to take:
- Collect any documents or other pieces of evidence that may help your defense. These might include bar tabs, receipts, records of telephone calls made, and any police paperwork.
- As soon as possible after your arrest, put the events in writing. This way, you won't forget crucial facts down the road, and you can give your attorney more ammunition. In addition, your police report may exclude some facts about your case that could exonerate you and potentially save your commercial driver's license.
- Review any paperwork and determine if you must request a DMV hearing through the Colorado Department of Revenue.
- Get in touch with a lawyer who has experience defending commercial drivers and knows the science that the government will rely upon in a DUI prosecution.
Never assume that you will easily be able to walk away from a commercial DUI charge. This is the kind of crime that the Colorado courts take seriously. So much so, in fact, that those convicted of commercial DUIs actually lose the ability to seal their criminal record.
Why You Cannot Seal Your Record
Following your commercial DUI arrest and conviction, you are facing the prospect of finding new work with a criminal record. Shipping companies do not want to hire those convicted of a DUI. In order to combat this, you may be tempted to have your record sealed. After you’ve served your time and complied with the court-mandated sentence, why shouldn’t you?
However, sealing your record following a commercial DUI is not an option in Colorado. Certain crimes are exempt from sealing eligibility, and commercial DUIs are one of them. While this crime is not a major felony, the Colorado courts feel it is important to keep record of those convicted of commercial DUI. That being said, if you were not convicted, you may still be eligible for a record seal. You should discuss your legal options with an experienced attorney.
DUI in Colorado Springs? Call (719) 475-2555
Timothy Bussey has successfully defended the rights of clients against DUI and other criminal charges for years. His experience as a prosecutor and his depth of knowledge about both sides in the legal process give him an uncommon level of insight in how to defend against a CDL DUI charge. When you call us, the first step is a full review of the evidence surrounding your case and a personal interview. Don’t plead guilty before speaking with our attorney.
Your livelihood may depend on retaining quality legal representation in your commercial DUI case. Call The Bussey Law Firm, P.C., today to schedule a free and confidential consultation. You can reach us at (719) 475-2555.
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