Barbara A. Bowden

Tacoma, WA DUI Attorney

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Commercial Driver License (CDL)

Those who depend on a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) to make their living can find themselves facing serious difficulties when they are under the threat of a loss of their CDL or have already had the CDL license suspended. A CDL license is required in the state of Washington for the following:

  • Church buses, private buses or any vehicle for 16+ people;
  • School buses;
  • Any vehicle containing toxic or hazardous materials;
  • Trailers weighing 10,001 pounds or more, and
  • Single vehicles weighing 26,001 pounds or more.

Truck drivers are CDL holders whose job is immediately—and heavily—impacted by a DUI arrest, even if there is not a conviction for the DUI. Federal regulations and most states, including Washington, require CDL revocation upon a DUI conviction or administrative finding that there was a chemical test above the legal limit or a refusal to submit to chemical testing.

Many people fail to realize that a CDL disqualification can only occur not only while driving a CDL vehicle but even when you are arrested while driving your personal, non-commercial vehicle. Not only will you receive a CDL disqualification, in many cases, you will also lose your “regular” driver’s license. You will receive a notice of intent to suspend from the arresting officer, then will have 7 days to request a hearing to contest the suspension. Should you fail to request either of these hearings within your 7 days, your driver’s license will be automatically suspended and your CDL disqualified.

If you have a CDL license, you will have unique considerations if you are arrested and charged with a Washington DUI. A DUI arrest can result in a CDL disqualification from one year to life, even if you were driving your personal, non-commercial vehicle. A CDL license holder who is arrested for DUI or physical control may face disqualification for a minimum of one year for any of the following:

  • Hit and run attended;
  • Driving a commercial vehicle with a BAC of 0.04 percent or more;
  • A conviction for DUI (alcohol or illegal drug), or
  • Loss of an administrative hearing under the implied consent law.

If you hold a CDL and have one or more of the above violations, you could have your CDL license disqualified for one year. If you have two or more violations, your CDL will be disqualified for life. Because a CDL is not a typical driver’s license, as it requires more knowledge, skill, and training, maintaining your CDL license is of the utmost importance.

There are commercial driving infractions which can also result in the suspension of a commercial driver’s license, including:

  • Failure to yield at a railroad track;
  • Any serious moving violations;
  • Hit and run;

The following moving violations will also contribute to a CDL disqualification or suspension:

  • Any traffic violation which results in a fatal accident or a collision;
  • Reckless driving;
  • Negligent driving;
  • Speeding 15 mph over the posted speed limit;
  • Driving a commercial motor vehicle without a commercial driver’s license;
  • Following too closely;
  • Failure to stop;
  • Driving too fast for current road conditions;
  • Improper lane changes;
  • Improper overtaking on either side;
  • Driving to the left of the center of the road;
  • Texting while driving a commercial vehicle, or
  • Using a cell phone while driving a commercial motor vehicle.

Two or more of any of the above-listed offenses within a 3-year period will result in CDL suspension. A second offense in a three-year period will result in a 60-day suspension and a third offense results in a 120-day suspension. A DUI conviction or the loss of an administrative hearing will disqualify your CDL license for one year.

CDL Revocation Resulting from a Washington DUI Conviction

If the DOL fails to succeed in suspending your CDL during administrative action, then if your criminal DUI charges result in a conviction, they will suspend your CDL for 1 year. You will receive notification of this suspension via a letter referencing both your personal license and your CDL license.

Deferred Prosecution for your Washington CDL Disqualification

At one time, entry into a deferred prosecution protected a CDL from suspension, but not anymore. Today, if a CDL holder enters a deferred prosecution program, the DOL sends out the exact same notice of suspension as if there had been a DUI conviction. A second DUI violation will result in the CDL being suspended for life.

Getting the Help You Need from The Law Offices of Barbara A. Bowden

Facing the loss of a CDL license can be daunting, and if your career is dependent on the possession of a valid CDL, it is likely you are feeling very anxious. The lawyers at The Law Offices of Barbara A. Bowden are committed to exploring and exhausting every possible option to defend you and protect your CDL. If you find yourself charged with a DUI or any other major moving violation or infraction which could potentially endanger your CDL, contact our Lakewood, WA offices today.

When you are charged with a DUI or other moving violation, you need an experienced DUI lawyer from The Law Offices of Barbara A. Bowden. We bring knowledge, skill, and expertise to the table to help you avoid consequences which can have life-altering effects on your livelihood and your day-to-day life. We understand the importance of your CDL; we work with clients throughout Western Washington, answering questions, and discussing options regarding CDL suspensions and probation. Contact the Law Offices of Barbara A. Bowden today for a top DUI defense lawyer in Western Washington. We always have your best interests in mind as we protect your future and your rights.