Those who drive commercial vehicles in Georgia are subjected to a lower blood alcohol standard of 0.04, which is half of what the normal adult standard for alcohol is. This means even with a fairly low level of alcohol someone driving a commercial vehicle can be charged with a DUI.
With that said, Georgia also has some very harsh penalties for people who are convicted of DUI while driving a commercial vehicle. For example, if convicted of DUI, there is a 12-month restriction on driving any sort of commercial vehicle. So even if someone gets their license reinstated within 12 months, they cannot drive a commercial vehicle. If the individual then gets a second DUI in Georgia, there is a lifetime ban on driving a commercial vehicle. For this reason, it is imperative for a CDL holder facing a DUI charge in Atlanta to contact an Atlanta DUI lawyer, to help them avoid the severe consequences that a conviction would bring.
If a person is convicted of DUI while driving a commercial vehicle in Georgia, in addition to all the normal penalties of possible jail time, DUI school, fines, community service, and counseling, they also face a 12-month disqualification for driving any commercial vehicle on a first DUI, and for a second DUI, a lifetime disqualification driving any commercial vehicle.
If a person is charged with a DUI but not convicted, then it is up to their employer whether or not they wish to keep them on as a commercial driver. If the charge of DUI is dismissed or if the person pleads not guilty, the person can continue to drive on a commercial driver’s license (CDL). It is only a conviction that will take away the ability to drive as a commercial driver.
In addition to the short term penalties such as license suspensions and fines, a CDL holder convicted of DUI may have trouble finding work in the future, even after their privilege to drive a commercial vehicle has been returned.
Drivers are often released based on prior convictions for DUI even from many years ago. Employers are becoming more and more selective and with the increased amount of litigation involving truck accidents and very high verdicts that have been awarded to victims of truck accidents, many times insurance companies require employers to discharge drivers who have even very old DUI convictions.
If a CDL driver is convicted of DUI in Georgia, there is no permit available for them to drive with a permit or restricted license to drive a commercial vehicle. There is a limited permit to drive a normal passenger car in some cases. If convicted, commercial drivers must go at least 12 months without driving a commercial vehicle.
A second or subsequent offense resulting in a conviction for DUI will cause a commercial driver in Georgia to have a lifetime ban, they will not ever get a commercial driver’s license again.
In order for a CDL holder to continue to work his or her normal job, the attorney must find a way to get a non-DUI conviction resolution in that case—for example, a not guilty verdict, having a case thrown out on procedural grounds, or reduction to a lesser charge. That will enable a CDL driver to continue to work in their field. But a conviction, even if a first conviction, will cause at least a 12-month period where they cannot drive a commercial vehicle.