Thousands of Texans depend on their commercial drivers’ licenses (CDL) for their livelihoods. For commercial drivers, losing a CDL can place their livelihoods at stake. DWI convictions are among the leading causes of losing a CDL in Texas. If you’ve been charged with a DWI as a commercial truck driver in Texas, there are two processes through which you can defend your commercial driver’s license: the administrative and criminal processes.
Discuss Your Case With a Houston CDL DWI Lawyer
Jose Ceja, managing attorney of Ceja Law Firm, has extensive experience representing clients with commercial driver’s licenses charged with DWI. In his career as a criminal defense lawyer, he has regularly obtained not guilty verdicts and dismissals in DWIs where the client is a CDL holder. Mr. Ceja has completed extensive DUI and DWI training, enabling him to offer clients spacing DWI charges excellent legal representation. If you have a CDL and you’ve been charged with a DWI, contact Ceja Law Firm PLLC today to schedule an initial consultation.
The Criminal Process for DWI Charges with a CDL
There are two separate processes for those charged with a DWI. Driving while under the influence of alcohol is a crime in Texas. Drivers can also face administrative penalties as part of a separate administrative process known as an Administrative Driver’s License Revocation (ALR) case. If you have a commercial driver’s license, driving with a blood-alcohol content (BAC) of .04 percent or above is a crime. This legal limit is required by the state of Texas and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).
Criminal Penalties for a CDL DWI
If you have a CDL and you are convicted of a DWI, you will face serious penalties. Even if you are a first-time DWI offender with a CDL, you could be convicted of a Class B misdemeanor with a minimum prison sentence of three days and a maximum jail sentence of 180 days. You also face a fine of up to $2,000. With each subsequent DWI conviction, you will face increasingly harsh penalties. If you’re convicted of a third or subsequent DWI with a CDL, you will face felony charges which will substantially increase the fines and jail time. You will also face administrative penalties, such as the suspension of your CDL.
Defenses Against Criminal CDL DWI Charges
Commercial drivers facing DWI charges face jail time and serious fines as well as drivers’ license suspension and a CDL qualification. Effectively defending against criminal DWI charges is crucial for your freedom and your livelihood. Commercial truckers can make a very good livelihood, but if you’re forced to stop working for a year due to jail time, and your CDL is disqualified, your career will be at risk. Consulting with an assertive, knowledgeable DWI lawyer will help you protect yourself and your livelihood.
Every CDL DWI case is unique. Your lawyer will need to review the specific facts in your case to develop the best legal defense strategy for you. However, many defenses are common in DWI cases. The first defense involves proving that the police officer who pulled you over did not have a reasonable suspicion necessary to do so. Other defendants argue that the police officer failed to test their blood alcohol level correctly.
Breathalyzer machines are challenging to operate, and when a police officer hasn’t received enough training or fails to maintain the machine, the results can be inaccurate. At Ceja Law Firm PLLC, we will carefully investigate your case to discover any constitutional violations or errors to aid your legal defense.
The Administrative Process and Your Texas CDL
If you’ve been arrested for a DWI while operating a commercial vehicle using your CDL, your CDL is at risk. Immediately after your arrest, the police officer will take your CDL and issue you a temporary driving permit. The permit will expire within 41 days of issuance. Your temporary driver’s license will allow you to continue driving commercial vehicles. However, once it expires, you will no longer be able to drive commercial vehicles.
If you would like to test the suspension and disqualification of your commercial driver’s license, you will need to request a hearing. You only have 15 days to request an administrative hearing if the Administrative License Revocation (ALR) program suspended your commercial driver’s license.
When commercial drivers refuse a chemical test, the ALR will suspend their license. Otherwise, you will have 20 days to request a Texas Department of Public Safety administrative hearing. Don’t delay discussing your case with a lawyer because if you don’t request a hearing, you will lose your opportunity to protect your commercial driver’s license.
If you didn’t refuse a breathalyzer or blood alcohol test, but you failed the test, you will receive a temporary license and you must request an Administrative License Revocation case. You can petition for a Texas DPS hearing. After hearing, your attorney will have the opportunity to cross-examine the police officer who arrested you. Your attorney can also present evidence and build your legal defense by disproving the elements of a DWI.
If you don’t win the DPS hearing, your commercial driver’s license will be suspended for 90 days, but your CDL will be disqualified for one year. If you were operating a commercial vehicle and transporting hazardous materials, your CDL will be suspended for three years. Regardless of the hearing outcome, you will receive a lifetime disqualification of CDL if you are convicted of a third DWI or felony while using a commercial vehicle. You can also face additional civil penalties under the FMCSA.
Contact a Houston CDL DWI Lawyer Today
As a professional driver, your CDL is linked to your livelihood. If you’re convicted of a DUI, your ability to earn a living will be put into question. If you have a CDL and face a DWI conviction, you need a skilled lawyer who will advocate effectively on your behalf. At Ceja Law Firm PLLC, we will immediately begin investigating your case and building your legal defense. Contact Ceja Law Firm PLLC today to schedule your free initial consultation.