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Operating a Commercial Vehicle While Intoxicated

Operating a Commercial Vehicle While Intoxicated

Fort Wayne attorney defends DUI while driving a commercial vehicle

The official term for drunk or drug-impaired driving in Indiana is operating a vehicle while intoxicated (OWI). However, the term DUI is used in common parlance. Any driver accused of DUI faces the risk of jail, fines and loss of license. But for commercial drivers, the consequences are even worse. They face the loss of their livelihood. If you are arrested for DUI while driving a commercial vehicle, you need proven defense representation. The Law Offices of Ryan E. Lackey in Fort Wayne can provide the aggressive defense you need to pursue the best possible outcome in your case.

Definition of a commercial vehicle in Indiana

According to Federal Motor Carrier Regulations, a commercial motor vehicle is one that is engaged in interstate commerce and meets any of these four criteria:

  • Weighs more than 10,000 pounds
  • Is designed to carry eight or more individuals for compensation
  • Is designed to carry 15 or more individuals for any purpose
  • Is used to transport hazardous materials 

Under Indiana state law, a commercial vehicle is one that is used in commerce to transport property, but only if the vehicle meets both of these conditions:

  • Has a declared gross vehicle weight of at least sixteen thousand (16,000) pounds
  • Is subject to the commercial motor vehicle excise tax under Indiana Code 6-6-5.5.

Drivers must have a commercial driver’s license (CDL) to operate these vehicles, which range from tractor-trailers to dump trucks to busses. Of course, there are lighter vehicles that businesses use to transport goods, such as delivery vans, but drivers do not need CDLs to operate them.

Legal blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limits for commercial vehicle drivers

Drivers who operate commercial vehicles are subject to a stricter standard when it comes to DUI. Whereas the legal limit for the average driver is 0.08 percent, the limit for a CDL holder driving a commercial vehicle is 0.04 percent.

CDL holders are also subject to greater scrutiny when driving their own cars. If you are caught driving your own car with a BAC between 0.04 and 0.08 percent, authorities won’t charge you with DUI but will cite you for a Class C traffic infraction, which can negatively impact your commercial license status. 

Consequences of operating a commercial vehicle while intoxicated

If you are convicted of DUI while operating a commercial vehicle, you are subject to a range of penalties, which include:

  • Jail time and/or community service
  • Fines
  • Loss of license
  • Court ordered alcohol education program

CDL holders can apply for a hardship license for limited driving privileges, but even if the court grants this request, it will not cover commercial driving. Therefore, if you lose your CDL, you may still lose your job.

Defenses against commercial DUI charges

Depending on the circumstances, an Indiana DUI lawyer can help you assert various defenses, such as:

  • Illegality of the traffic stop
  • Improperly administered field sobriety test
  • Lack of probable cause for an arrest
  • Inaccuracy of chemical tests

Our firm pursues every reasonable path towards a successful resolution of your charges.

Fort Wayne DUI lawyer helps protect professional licenses

The loss of your license is a real possibility, even in cases of DUI for out of state drivers. Since we understand that you must drive to earn a living, we take decisive steps to protect your license. 

But even if you win your DUI case, you can still lose your license as an administrative penalty for refusing a chemical test. In such cases, we aggressively pursue the reinstatement of your license.

Contact a reliable criminal defense attorney for CDL driver DUI cases

The Law Offices of Ryan E. Lackey provides staunch defense for commercial vehicle drivers arrested for DUI in Indiana. For a free consultation, please call us at 260-222-7364 or contact the firm online.

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  • Fort Wayne Office
    1519 Spy Run Ave.
    Fort Wayne, Indiana 46805
    Phone: 260-437-0197
    Fax: 260-745-4703