Archive for September, 2015

DWI Defense for Commercial Drivers in Houston


Texas criminal defense attorneyA driver in Texas who is found guilty of operating a vehicle while impaired by alcohol can face a suspension of a personal driver’s license. Not being able to drive is a major problem for most people, as work and family commitments may be difficult to fulfill without a valid driver’s license. For those with a commercial driver’s license (CDL) however, the loss of a license can mean the end of a career.

A commercial driver’s license holder can have his CDL suspended both for a drunk driving conviction while operating his own personal vehicle and for a drunk driving conviction while operating his commercial vehicle.   Because conviction can lead to a lengthy CDL suspension or a lifetime revocation, it is very important for a Houston commercial driver to raise a strong DWI defense if he is accused of breaking Texas laws on impaired driving.

Why You Need a Good DWI Defense When You Have a CDL

Most truckers in Texas who drive passenger vehicles or big trucks are subject to regulations established on the national level called Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSRs). The regulations are passed and enforced by Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).

FMCSR 383.51 is the relevant federal regulation addressing the situations under which a commercial license can be suspended.  A CDL suspension may occur after:

  • A refusal to take a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) test when there is probable cause the driver is impaired by drugs or by alcohol.
  • A conviction for driving drunk while in a personal car.
  • A conviction for driving under the influence of a controlled substance, or any combination of drugs and alcohol, while in a personal car.
  • A conviction for driving drunk or under the influence of drugs or controlled substances while operating a commercial motor vehicle.

A commercial motor vehicle is typically defined as a truck with a gross weight rating of 26,001 or more pounds or a tow trailer of 10,000 or more pounds. Vehicles that are able to transport 16 or more people, including the driver, may also be considered commercial vehicles.

When a driver is in a commercial vehicle and refuses to take a BAC test or is considered to be impaired by alcohol or other substances, the driver could face:

  • A one year CDL suspension for a first conviction.
  • A three year CDL suspension for a first conviction while operating a vehicle that contains HAZMAT/ hazardous material.
  • A lifetime revocation of a CDL for a second conviction.

Under Texas law, as throughout the United States, there is a lower limit set for drivers who are operating a commercial motor vehicle. A CDL holder in a truck or passenger vehicle is considered to be in violation of impaired driving laws as soon as his BAC is .04 percent. The lower limit is set at half of the standard limit in a passenger car.

Because a DWI can mean the suspension or lifetime loss of your CDL, you need to develop a very effective DWI defense if you don’t want to lose your professional license and career.