Is There A Different DUI Penalty for Commercial Drivers In South Carolina?

A conviction for driving under the influence can be disastrous for any driver, for commercial drivers, the situation is even worse. While non-commercial drivers face financial loss and license suspensions, a holder of a Commercial Driving License stands to lose his means of livelihood if he is pulled over for a DUI or any other traffic offense.

General South Carolina DUI Laws

South Carolina DUI laws state that it is unlawful for any person to drive a car within the state while influenced by alcohol, drugs, or other substances or a combination of alcohol and drugs or other intoxicating substances to the extent that materially impairs his driving ability. A violation of this provision would warrant a charge of Driving Under the Influence. The penalties for the offense range from $400 to $10,000 and a 48-hour jail term to 7 years in prison depending on the offender’s Blood Alcohol Content and his criminal history.

The law sets the minimum BAC that can set off a BAC charge at 0.08% for individuals. However, where the offender is under 21, he will be charged with a DUI if his BAC is 0.02% or higher. The penalties for this are suspension or revocation of his driver’s license for a period the DMV would determine. Where his BAC is 0.08% or higher, he will face the same penalties as a person over 21.

DUIs by Commercial Drivers

In South Carolina, Commercial Motor Vehicle (CMV) operators hold a Commercial Driving License (CDL). A CMV operator who is faced with a DUI charge or a charge for other traffic offenses, leaving the scene of an accident or negligent operation of the CMV which causes a fatality, for example, stands to lose a lot more than non-commercial drivers.

South Carolina laws provide for the offense of CDL DUI. The law states that a commercial driver will be barred from driving a CMV for one year if he, being a first-time offender:

  1. Is convicted of DUI while driving any vehicle
  2. Has a BAC of 0.04% or higher while operating a CMV
  3. Refuses to submit to a breath or chemical test

If he is transporting hazardous materials at the time of committing the offense, his CDL would be revoked for 3 years. A repeat offender stands to lose his CDL permanently. Where a Commercial Motor Vehicle (CMV) operator is found to have a BAC of less than 0.04%, he will be issued an “out-of-service” notice and will be barred from driving for the next 24 hours.

Defenses to a CDL DUI and How Your DUI Attorney Can Help You

The defenses which generally apply to a DUI charge also apply to a CDL DUI charge. If you’re charged with CDL DUI in Clemson South Carolina, your DUI defense lawyer can argue that:

  1. The officer had no probable cause to stop you. Your DUI lawyer might argue that the officer stopped you based on your race or some other prejudice.
  2. You were not impaired by alcohol consumption.
  3. You weren’t drinking, and alcohol found in the vehicle belonged to a passenger. This defense would only apply where the CMV is one which usually carries passengers such as a for-hire vehicle or a motor home, and where there is no alcohol content in the driver’s blood.
  4. The machine used to test the driver’s BAC was not working correctly.
  5. The officer failed to record the proceedings from the time the blue lights came on to the arrest, field sobriety test, and breathalyzer.

Your DUI defense attorney would advise you on the best course of action for your defense. You can choose to try or plead your case. If you decide to plead, your DUI lawyer will go into negotiations with the Assistant District Attorney. The kind of deal you get would then depend on his negotiation skills, the Assistant District Attorney he’d be negotiating with, and District Attorney’s office policies.

If you decide to try your case, you’d have to choose between a jury trial and a bench trial. Your DUI lawyer would discuss the merits and demerits of both options with you and guide you towards a path that’d lead to a favorable outcome for you.

When to Contact A DUI Lawyer

If you want a shot at getting a positive outcome, it’s best to contact a DUI lawyer immediately after you’re pulled over and charged with a CDL DUI. You need a DUI defense lawyer at The Bateman Law Firm who knows all the intricacies of South Carolina DUI laws, so speak to a good number of DUI lawyers before selecting one.

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