Truck Driving and DUI


Truck drivers, not surprisingly, are held to a higher standard for DUIs than your average non-commercial driver. According to California Vehicle Code section 23152(d), commercial drivers cannot drive with 0.04 percent blood alcohol content or higher while driving a commercial vehicle. California Vehicle Code section 15210 defines “commercial driving under the influence” as “[d]riving a commercial motor vehicle while the operator’s blood-alcohol concentration level is 0.04 percent or more…, [d]riving under the influence of alcohol, as prescribed in subdivision (a) or (b) of Section 23152, [and] [r]efusal to undergo [chemical] testing as required by this code…”

If convicted, the commercial driver will lose their commercial license for a minimum of one year for a first time violation. Their non-commercial license will also be suspended pursuant to the law regarding non-commercial licenses. Any violations thereafter, a commercial driver could lose their commercial license for the rest of their life. This penalty is addition to the penalties typically given for non-commercial drivers who are convicted of a DUI. However, whereas non-commercial drivers may apply for a work-restricted license following a license suspension, a commercial driver is not eligible for a restricted license for neither commercial driving privileges nor non-commercial driving privileges.

Seems harsh. Why? Think about the potential damage caused by a 4-wheeled vehicle and an 18-wheeler. If the size difference alone weren’t enough, what if the 18-wheeler was carrying hazardous materials?

Last month, a truck driver was sentenced to 25 years in prison because his truck veered across the center line on a highway in Leon County, Florida and collided with an oncoming vehicle. The collision caused the death of an elementary school bookkeeper. At the time of the collision the truck driver, James Wyrosdick, had painkillers, marijuana, and methamphetamine in his system.

It is not uncommon for a truck driver to take uppers like methamphetamine to help them stay awake when trying to make deadlines on extremely long drives. Sometimes the monotonous drives can cause some truck drivers to drink alcohol or smoke marijuana to overcome boredom or loneness.

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