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Are truck drivers safe if their blood alcohol is below the minimum level?

On Behalf of | Oct 24, 2023 | DUI/DWI, Traffic Offenses Blog Post, Trucking And Transportation |

Driving a motor vehicle under the influence (DUI) of an intoxicating substance, such as alcohol or drugs, is a Class 1 misdemeanor for a first offense in Virginia. For a driver to be presumed to be intoxicated, their blood alcohol level must be at least 0.08%.

After an arrest, an officer will ask the driver, suspected of driving while intoxicated, to take in a chemical test to gauge the amount of alcohol level in their breath or blood. All drivers are presumed to have given their consent to take such a test for the privilege to drive on the roads and highways in the Commonwealth.

However, that limit that a driver is presumed intoxicated is even lower for commercial drivers, holding a (CDL) license, such as truckers. Per Virginia law, if a CDL holder’s blood alcohol level hits at least 0.04%, they can face a Class 3 misdemeanor criminal charge. While there is this higher, stricter standard for truck drivers, they may not be safe from charges, even if their blood alcohol levels are lower than the 0.04% limit?

Any trace of alcohol is punishable.

Virginia law prohibits any amount of alcohol in a CDL holder’s blood. According to the rules, any person found to have operated a commercial motor vehicle while having any amount of alcohol in their blood can face a traffic infraction.

Refusing the chemical test is a major violation.

If a truck driver refuses to undergo a chemical test for any reason could lead to penalties, officials can still charge them. It’s a major violation to refuse a chemical test, no matter how low the CDL holder’s breath or blood alcohol levels may be.

The driver’s CDL is disqualified for one year for a first-time major violation. The disqualification period can extend up to three years if the driver was transporting hazardous materials during the offense. However, if the driver faces a second conviction for refusing a test, officials can disqualify their CDL for life.

In conclusion, any amount of alcohol in a truck driver’s system can lead to penalties. Refusing a post-arrest chemical test can lead to a penalty that’s even more severe than a simple traffic infraction. But whether a truck driver faces a traffic infraction or a criminal charge, they can always contest the allegations in court.