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Commercial Driver’s License DUI in Ohio

Commercial Driver's License DUI in Ohio

In Ohio, Commercial Driver Licenses (CDLs) are required for anyone who drives a commercial vehicle, as defined in Ohio Rev. Code § 4506.01.  Generally, CDLs are required to operate school buses, eighteen-wheelers, construction vehicles, and various other commercial vehicles.  Currently, there are three classes of CDLs in Ohio —  the type of vehicle that can be operated depends on the class of CDL you have.

Being charged with drunk driving in Ohio — especially when your CDL is on the line — can completely turn your life upside down.  If convicted, you can lose your license, be forced to pay significant fines, and even face jail time.  A DUI / OVI arrest presents a laundry list of legal complications.  Cincinnati lawyers understand that you are presumed innocent until proven guilty in an Ohio court of law.  You need an attorney that is ready to fight for your rights through every stage of your case.  This can make the difference when your freedom, driver’s license, and ability to work are all on the line.

Commercial DUI / OVI

Like most states, Ohio DUI / OVI charges also extend to commercial vehicles.  However, in Ohio, the consequences of driving a commercial vehicle under the influence can be much more severe than normal drunk driving cases.

According to Ohio commercial DUI / OVI law (which was amended in 2005) the major differences in commercial and non-commercial DUI / OVI include:

  • The “legal limit” for your blood alcohol level (BAC) is less than it is for non-commercial vehicles—.04.
  • If you have any detectable amount of alcohol in your system you will be temporarily placed out-of-service for at least 24 hours.
  • If convicted, your CDL could be suspended for one year for your first offense or terminated permanently for subsequent offenses.
  • Your CDL privileges can be affected even if you were not “on the job.”
  • You can lose your CDL even if you personally own the commercial vehicle.

It is important to understand how commercial DUI / OVI charges differ from non-commercial OVI / DUI charges.  Experienced Cincinnati DUI / OVI attorneys understand this imperative distinction.  Simply put, when your CDL is on the line, your livelihood is on the line.  You need an attorney that will protect your rights so that your professional commercial driving career can continue, uninterrupted.

What Constitutes a Commercial DUI?

Under Ohio law, a conviction for OVI / DUI while operating a commercial vehicle will result in, at a minimum, a one-year CDL disqualification.  For second-time offenders, Ohio law mandates a lifetime CDL revocation.  And, again, if you have any detectable amount of alcohol in your system while driving a commercial vehicle, Ohio law requires that you stop operating your commercial vehicle for at least twenty-four hours.  In addition, if your commercial vehicle was transporting any hazardous materials, your one-year penalty has the potential to be increased to a three-year disqualification, depending on the circumstances.

Does a Commercial DUI Affect My Regular Driver’s License?

The short answer is yes.  If you are arrested for DUI / OVI ­— even while driving a non-commercial vehicle — your CDL will be suspended administratively for ninety (90) days.  Additionally, refusing to take a blood-alcohol test constitutes an additional offense under Ohio CDL law.

Although driving privileges may be granted for driving a non-commercial vehicle (in some limited circumstances), no driving privileges will be granted for driving a commercial vehicle during the ninety (90) day administrative license suspension period.  During this period, you will be prohibited from driving a commercial vehicle under any circumstance.

It is important to note, however, that having an effective Ohio DUI / OVI attorney on your side can make all the difference.  Experienced Cincinnati lawyers understand that these decisions can be appealed.  If your appeal is successful, you may have your CDL (and your life) reinstated.

How Can I Keep My CDL If I Have A DUI Charge?

It is important to remember that a charge is not the same as a conviction.  Ohio DUI / OVI lawyers understand that this distinction is at the heart of every successful defense strategy — if you aren’t convicted, you won’t lose your CDL.  The same is true if your charges are downgraded to a lesser offense.  It is really that simple.  Having an attorney on your side is the single most important thing you can do to win your Ohio OVI / DUI case.

Experienced Cincinnati lawyers will employ the following defense strategies:

  • Challenging the legality of your arrest generally
  • Holding police accountable for mistakes in the handling evidence
  • Challenging the validity of your breath test results
  • Demonstrating that mouth alcohol, diabetes, the ketogenic diet, or GERD affected your test results chemically

In some cases, any of the foregoing defenses will be enough to suppress evidence against you and help you regain control of your future.  Don’t let an Ohio DUI / OVI ruin your commercial driving career.

Appeals of Disqualifications

Importantly, under Ohio law, you have the rightto appeal any administrative decision made by the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV) concerning your CDL.  To appeal your CDL disqualification, you must submit to the BMV, in writing, a request for an administrative hearing within thirty (30) days after your Notice of Disqualification was mailed to you.

Contact The Farrish Law Firm Today

If you are a CDL holder and are facing Ohio DUI / OVI charges, it is imperative that you have an attorney on your side that understands what is at stake.  More importantly, you need an experienced Ohio DUI / OVI lawyer that understands how to traverse Ohio’s complex DUI / OVI laws.  Unlike normal drunk driving charges, commercial drunk driving charges can literally put your entire livelihood at risk.

If you or a loved one have been charged, the single most important decision you can make is who will represent you in court.  Ask any Ohio lawyer, judge, or police officer and they will agree:  having competent, experienced, and zealous representation is the only way to successfully defend against DUI / OVI charges.