People who drive trucks or buses professionally are subject to some laws that do not apply to other drivers. Both federal and Texas laws hold commercial drivers to a higher standard regarding alcohol consumption, with lower thresholds of legal impairment than for other drivers.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), a division of the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) has established that the operation of a commercial vehicle by a driver with a blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.04 or more is illegal (49 Code of Federal Regulations, Section 382.201). Section 522.081 of the Texas Statutes mirrors the federal threshold of 0.04, which is half the legal maximum threshold for non-commercial drivers (0.08).
A person with a commercial driver's license (CDL) who has a BAC of 0.04 or more in Texas while driving a commercial vehicle is legally considered a drunk driver and may be arrested for DWI (driving while intoxicated), even when the BAC level is below 0.08. In addition, a commercial driver who exceeds the 0.08 threshold when driving a personal vehicle will lose his or her CDL for a year, which will result in job loss as a professional driver.
Other penalties for "Commercial DWI" include jail, heavy fines, and probation, as well as DWI "surcharges."
Commercial drivers have much more at stake than other drivers who face a DWI charge. If you are charged with Commercial DWI anywhere in Denton County, Texas, you should contact a local DWI defense attorney as soon as possible.
The DWI attorneys at Law Offices of Richard C. McConathy realize that a commercial DWI conviction could lead straight to the unemployment office. We are experienced in defending commercial drivers charged with DWI. Our dedicated attorneys will be able to explain your criminal charges and then work hard to defend those charges. We can use our knowledge of criminal procedure and resources to help yo fight the case. In addition, we will fight to retain your commercial and personal driving privileges.
Law Offices of Richard C. McConathy represents DUI clients throughout Denton County, including the cities of Denton, Lewisville, The Colony, Little Elm, Flower Mound and many nearby communities throughout the North Dallas metropolitan area. Contact us today at 940-222-8004 so we can review your case and explain your options during a free, confidential consultation with one of our skilled DWI attorneys.
A commercial motor vehicle driver with an alcohol concentration of 0.04 or higher is considered to be driving while intoxicated under the Texas Statutes, Transportation Code, Title 7, Subtitle B, Subchapter H, Section 522.081.
The law states that any commercial vehicle driver operating a commercial motor vehicle in Texas with an alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.04 or higher is subject to the same DWI punishments imposed on non-commercial drivers with a BAC of 0.08 or higher.
Some of the terms in the commercial DWI law are defined in the Texas statutes, including commercial motor vehicle, intoxicated and alcohol concentration.
"Commercial motor vehicle" is defined under federal 49 C.F.R. § 382.107 and Texas Statutes, Transportation Code § 522.003(5) as a motor vehicle or combination of motor vehicles used to transport passengers or property that:
Under the Texas Penal Code § 49.01(2), "intoxicated" means:
Under Texas P.C. § 49.01(1), "alcohol concentration" (also known as blood alcohol concentration or BAC) means the number of grams of alcohol per:
A person charged with a commercial DWI in Texas will be subject to the same DWI penalties that a non-commercial driver would face, but a commercial DWI conviction may result in the loss of his or her CDL, which is detailed in the next section.
Driving while intoxicated is considered a Class B misdemeanor in Texas, and penalties include a sentence of at least three days and up to 180 days in jail and/or fines of up to $2,000.
If a driver is found to have a BAC of 0.15 or higher, the charge is elevated to a Class A misdemeanor. If convicted, a Class A misdemeanor is punishable by up to one year in jail and/or fines of up to $4,000.
People convicted of Commercial DWI in Texas face numerous penalties — both criminal and civil — although the potential civil consequences may be harsher because they include a CDL suspension, which may result in the loss of a job as a commercial driver. A CDL may be suspended for a period of one year to life, depending on the severity of the violation.
Under Texas law, a person who holds a commercial driver's license is disqualified from driving a commercial motor vehicle for one year upon a first conviction:
A person who holds a commercial driver's license is disqualified from operating a commercial motor vehicle for three years if:
A person who holds a commercial driver's license is disqualified from operating a commercial motor vehicle for life if:
(See Texas Statutes, Title 7, Chapter 522.081.)
Texas law provides for an appeals process for CDL suspensions, but a lifetime CDL suspension may not be appealed for 10 years (Texas Statutes, Title 7, Chapter 522.082).
The Texas licensing bureau will determine a person's eligibility for CDL restoration after 10 years. But if a reinstated driver is ever convicted of a similar offense, he or she will permanently lose his or her CDL with no possibility of reinstatement.
In addition to the criminal penalties that may be imposed after a Commercial DWI conviction, Texas also assesses a mandatory annual DWI surcharge fee to be paid to the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS). This administrative fee must be paid for a period of three years as a condition of maintaining a driver’s license. Failure to pay the surcharges or enter into a payment agreement will result in the automatic suspension of a CDL until all payments are made.
Texas DWI surcharges, to be paid to the Texas Department of Public Safety, are:
Texas Statutes, Penal Code, Title 10, Chapter 49.04 — Read the Texas state laws that define driving while intoxicated as well as the potential penalties for conviction.
Texas Statutes, Transportation Code, Title 7, Chapter 522.081 — Read the Texas state laws related to disqualification from driving a commercial motor vehicle, including the civil penalties that may result from a conviction for Commercial DWI.
Texas DPS – Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Service – Read about the special program that the Texas Department of Public Safety has developed for commercial vehicle safety. The objective of the Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Service is to reduce accidents, protect state highways and the rights of people driving on public roads and highways.
Commercial Motor Vehicle Drivers Handbook – The Texas DPS Commercial Motor Vehicle Drivers Handbook details subjects such as licensing tests, driving safely, transporting passengers, registration and regulations.
Texas Department of Motor Vehicles – The Texas Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) is responsible for registering and titling vehicles in the state, regulating motor carrier operating authority, and helping law enforcement agencies reduce auto theft and increase public driving awareness. The address is:Texas Dept. of Motor Vehicles
If you are currently charged with Commercial DWI in Denton County, Texas or anywhere in the North Dallas metropolitan area, you should act now in order to retain your driving privileges and your livelihood.
The experienced DWI attorneys at Law Offices of Richard C. McConathy are committed to their clients and use their legal knowledge and skills to fight for the best possible outcome in every case. We know the DWI process and we proudly represent DWI defendants throughout Denton County, including Lewisville, Denton, The Colony, Flower Mound, Little Elm, Grapevine, and Westlake, as well as surrounding communities.
Contact Law Offices of Richard C. McConathy today by calling 940-222-8004 to schedule a free consultation with one of our DWI lawyers.
I can’t say enough great things about the attorneys at this law firm. Within a few months they had my case, which I thought I was going to lose, dismissed and put my life back on track. I would recommend their firm to anyone and everyone who is in need of legal help.Leslie L. Denton County DWI
A few months before I moved out of Texas, I was arrested for DWI. The problem was I was building a new life in another state with greater opportunities. I needed to find an attorney to handle my special situation being an out of state client who also travels out of the country. My case was in Denton County, which I have heard is a very difficult county to deal with. Because of my job I was in need of special accommodations from the court so I would not lose my career. After several months of tough negotiations with the DA, Richard and Brian were able to finalize my case beyond my expectations. I would highly recommend this law firm to anyone who has run into some trouble anywhere they might get a DWI.Stephanie C. Denton County DWI