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Alcohol & Marijuana DUI Law for Commercial Driver’s Licenses
March 27, 2018

When it comes to driving under the influence, professionals with a commercial driver's license are held to a higher standard than non-commercial drivers with respect to the rules for Alcohol and marijuana-related offenses, especially when it comes to the charge of driving under the influence.

Here are some examples of drivers and employers that may be subject to these stricter regulations regarding drugs and alcohol: 

  • Anyone who owns or leases commercial motor vehicles,
  • Anyone who assigns drivers to operate commercial motor vehicles,
  • Federal, state and local governments,
  • For-hire motor carriers,
  • Private motor carriers,
  • Civic organizations (i.e. disabled veteran transport, Girl Scouts, etc.), and

The legal blood alcohol limit for drivers with a regular license is 0.08. However, if you are a commercial driver that limit is cut in half to 0.04.  With regards to having marijuana in your system, the laws are always much less lenient. Any commercial driver found with even the lowest amount of THC in their system are faced with an automatic charge of driving under the influence.

There are several reasons for this stricter stance. These different guidelines are as a result of multiple differences between regular drivers and commercial drivers, namely the size and load they carry with their heavy vehicles. For example, the size and weight of most commercial vehicles is much greater than that of a regular vehicle. In addition, there is also the possible presence of hazardous material being transported. Stemming from these two variables it leads to the conclusion that the damage a commercial driver can cause if high or drunk behind the wheel can be much greater and devastating than that of a regular driver. Therefore, whether their cargo is a steel tank full of gasoline or a school bus packed with elementary school children, the stakes are much higher than for the typical automobile driver.

Another difference between regular and commercial drivers, is that after an accident, commercial drivers may be required to submit to random alcohol testing as a result of reasonable suspicion of being under the influence.  Random testing may also be a condition following an alcohol policy violation.

In addition to alcohol testing, a driver can also be drug tested under the following circumstances: as a condition of employment, where there is reasonable suspicion they are consuming illegal substances, and as a condition of returning to duty following a drug policy violation. The drugs that are most often tested for are the following: marijuana, cocaine, amphetamines, opiates and phencyclidine (PCP).

When pulled over on suspicion of driving under the influence, commercial drivers also face harsher penalties for refusing to submit to a blood alcohol test. A refusal is also a criminal offence and can lead to greater penalties than a charge of driving under the influence.

Commercial drivers that are charged with impaired driving or refusals while on the job are subject to the same criminal law procedures as non-commercial DUI defendants. However, the penalties can difference and commercial drivers often face longer suspensions than regular drivers. These long suspensions greatly hinder a commercial driver’s ability to be employed and harshly effects their livelihood.

It is important to add that commercial drivers who are convicted of any traffic violation (aside from parking offenses), must let his or her employer know. Even if they do not inform them most employers will order a driving record from the SAAQ (both regular and heavy vehicle records) in order to ensure their drivers are being prudent at all time. Therefore, should they not choose to inform their employer chances are they will become aware in the near future. When it comes to DUIs, informing your employer is especially important as a driver’s license will most likely be suspended immediately. In addition, if the DUI results in a suspended or revoked license, his employer is prohibited from employing him as a driver for the length of the license restriction. To anyone wishing to continue as a commercial driver will find it extremely difficult to get employment with a DUI on their record.

The stakes in these cases are so high, so it makes sense to consult with a legal professional before making crucial legal decisions. Contact today for a free consultation.