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Are there different DWI penalties for commercial drivers?

In New York, being convicted of drunk driving carries a variety of penalties that can differ based on the circumstances. For those who drive commercial vehicles for a living and have a commercial driver's license, the criteria for a DWI charge and the penalties are harsher than for a person with a conventional license. Since a commercial driver's license suspension will negatively affect a person's ability to earn a living, it is important to understand the penalties he or she will face and formulate a strong defense against the charges.

A driver who has a Class A, B or C commercial driver's license is held to a different standard when blood-alcohol content (BAC) is measured during an investigation to determine if the driver is under the influence. In addition, there are more extensive penalties. Being convicted of driving under the influence for a driver on a conventional license will hinge on whether he or she is at or above .08 percent in their BAC. For a commercial driver, it is half that: .04 percent BAC.

If there is a conviction for DWI, the driver will have his or her driver's license suspended for a minimum of one year. If the vehicle that the person is driving is required to have hazardous materials placards (HAZMAT), the suspension will be for three years. A driver who is convicted a second time within the lifetime results will result in the license being revoked permanently. There can be a waiver after 10 years. With a third conviction, the driver's license will be revoked permanently and never reinstated.

Since a commercial driver relies on that license and the ability to drive a commercial vehicle legally to earn a living, a DWI charge can have long-standing consequences. Formulating the strongest possible defense could be the difference between a conviction and an acquittal. The driver might have a reason that he or she seemed impaired. The traffic stop and investigation could have been conducted in violation of the law and the person's rights. Regardless of the situation, a legal professional experienced in helping clients with DWI charges is imperative.

Source: DMV.NY.gov, "You And The Drinking Driving Laws -- What About Commercial Drivers? page 4," accessed on Oct. 9, 2017

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