Did you know 86% of drivers arrested for a DUI are first time offenders?

As most people are aware, driving under the influence is a serious offense in every state. Offenders face fees, loss of license, and jail time. Having a driver’s license in Illinois is considered a privilege, so violating the state’s laws subjects you to losing that privilege.

Not every driver does so recreationally, however. What happens to drivers that get arrested for driving under the influence and hold a commercial driver’s license in Illinois? 

Overview of What Happens When You Get a DUI

The Illinois law has a no-tolerance policy when it comes to drivers driving under the influence. 

Those who are caught and charged with a DUI can face the following consequences:

Arrest: After a police officer pulls you over and suspects you are under the influence, you will be arrested and taken to the station. Once at the police station, you will get fingerprinted and have your mugshot taken. They will also request you take a breath test. 

In Illinois, you will be allowed to go home as soon as someone comes to bail you out. Other states will let you go once you sober up. 

Before you leave the station, you will get a ticket, plus a summons to appear in court in front of a judge. 

Talk to an Attorney: You don't want to stand in front of a judge without an attorney present. 

An experienced attorney will handle your case in front of the judge and try to dismiss the charges based on the evidence presented.

Loss of Driving Privileges: Even if you don't have a previous driving offense or criminal record, most states will suspend your license for a certain period of time. 

However, if you have an attorney on your side, you can get a Hardship license in order to get to work, school, grocery shopping, and medical appointments.

Pay a Fine: If the judge convicts you of a DUI, you will have to pay a fine. The fines get steeper if it's not the first offense. Fees in Illinois depend on the level of DUI that you received. 

Serve Jail Time: States have been cracking down on DUI offenders. While in some states first-time offenders don't get jail time, in other states first-time offenders serve a day or two.

Probation: Some offenders have to complete probation after their conviction.

Differences Between Getting a DUI with a CDL License and a Regular Arrest

It's a fact that drivers who possess a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) are held to higher standards than those with a regular driver license. 

As we briefly mentioned before, drivers that have a DUI conviction and get their license suspended can still obtain limited driving privileges. These limited and temporary driving terms allow them to drive to work if their employment depends on it. 

Some drivers might also have privileges to attend school while their license remains suspended. 

However, those who hold a CDL and are convicted of a DUI will not be as lucky. Commercial drivers with a DUI are not allowed to have temporary or restricted driving privileges that allow them to drive a CDL vehicle. 

This is a big problem for CDL holders, because they depend on their ability to drive to maintain their employment. 

Since their livelihood depends on being able to drive, they need to challenge the charges as soon as possible, by consulting with an attorney to discuss the specific details of the arrest. 

DUI Penalties for Commercial Drivers

If you get pulled over by a police officer and you're a regular driver, the legal blood-alcohol content (BAC) caps at 0.08.%. Commercial drivers, on the other hand, can get arrested for a DUI if their BAC is higher than 0.04%. 

The penalties for commercial drivers are also more severe than for regular drivers. CDL holders can face:

  • Temporary or permanent loss of commercial license
  • Jail time (if repeated offense)
  • Mandated alcohol education or rehab
  • Higher fines
  • Ignition interlock device

Loss of License

While both commercial and regular drivers can get their license suspended when convicted of a DUI, it is more severe for CDL drivers. 

Commercial drivers can see their CDL disqualified for at least a year.

If they have previous convictions, they might lose their CDL license permanently. 

Steps to Take After a DUI Charge with a Commercial License

Although the best way to avoid a DUI is to not drink and drive, people make mistakes sometimes. 

If you made an honest mistake, there are many different ways you can plead your case. 

Some drivers might not have been aware of what the BAC limit is in their state. Certain medications could have also played a part in why their high BAC was higher. 

Because of these, and other reasons, having a BAC over 0.04% limit doesn't mean they are guilty. 

Second DUI Offense with CDL

Drivers who are guilty of a second DUI will lose their CDL eligibility permanently. 

The Bottom Line

It is never a good thing to put yourself in a position where you could be arrested for DUI no matter what kind of license that you have. However, for those with a CDL, it can be much more damaging to their way of life. 

CDL drivers are held to a higher standard, and though many of them travel from state to state, it is no excuse to not know the laws of the state they are in if they decide to drive while intoxicated. 

Now that you know what happens when you get a DUI with a CDL license, you can stay informed. 

Learn more about the laws in your state and most importantly, don't drink and drive.

Do you live in Illinois facing a DUI conviction? Contact us for a consultation.