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How to Get Your CDL Back After a DUI

DUI attorney los angelesA DUI is never fun for anyone, but if your money and livelihood relies on driving, a DUI can be absolutely devastating. Truck drivers who have been arrested for a DUI know this pain all too well. Like anyone, truck drivers lose their licenses if they’re convicted of a DUI; the difference is that a commercial driver’s license (CDL) is more than a simple convenience—it’s an income-earning tool that keeps the bills paid.

If you’re a commercial driver who’s been convicted of a DUI in California, here’s what you need to know:

CDL Suspension According to California State Law

According to California law, your license will be suspended for at least one year when you’re convicted of a first-time offense DUI. Bear in mind that a CDL can be suspended for a DUI conviction for reasons other than drinking and driving. Additionally, drinking-and-driving standards are significantly different for CDL holders than drivers with non-commercial licenses. If you refuse to take a blood-alcohol content (BAC) test, or if your BAC measures 0.04% or higher when you’re pulled over in a commercial motor vehicle (CMV), you’ll likely face a DUI and immediate suspension of your CDL. Additionally, if you’ve caused a crash in your CMV and fled the scene or committed a felony while operating your CMV, you’ll likely face at least a one-year suspension, as well. Other circumstances, such as causing a crash that results in a fatality or driving a CMV with a revoked license will also result in at least a year’s suspension.

CDL Suspension According to Federal Law

In many cases, suspension of CDLs spans to federal law, as many CMV operators cross state lines. In addition to California state laws, you may be subject to penalties, fines, and punishment, as determined by the Federal Motor Carriers Safety Administration (FMCSA). Federal law says your CDL can be suspended from 60 days to life for violations and convictions such as driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol and/or drugs. You’re required to notify your employer of any traffic convictions, including DUIs, within 30 days of the incident.

About CDL Hearings with the DMV

You should receive an Order of Suspension/Revocation when you’re arrested for a DUI. This form will tell you you’re able to request a hearing. Generally speaking, you’ll have 10 days from the date you receive your Order of Suspension to contest the charges. If you wish to challenge the charges, you, or better, your attorney, must contact your local DMV office promptly to schedule a hearing.

It is important to be aware that the DMV is not the court; they operate very separately. The DMV may be able to reinstate your license while you’re undergoing court proceedings, but any suspensions and penalties you receive from the court are separate from the decisions the DMV makes. The court’s rulings are above and beyond any final outcomes from the DMV itself.

How to Reinstate Your CDL

When it comes to DUIs in California, every case is different, which means there is no one-size-fits-all answer. In terms of reinstating your CDL, the process will depend on a number of factors, including the reason your CDL was suspended in the first place. Your Order of Suspension/Revocation should give you a good start, but you’ll likely want an attorney on your side to help you navigate the complexities of this process.

Typically, you’ll need to do one of the following to reinstate your CDL:

  • Win the DMV hearing
  • Wait out the entire suspension period or get a restricted license if you qualify
  • Pay reissue fees to the California DMV
  • Take any court-ordered classes

Fees Associated with Reinstatements of CDLs After DUIs in California

Again, every situation is different, which means your fees could vary as much as your charges and offenses. Usually, the reinstatement of a CDL in California requires payment of fees as follows (which may include any or all of the below, depending on the severity of your offense):

  • Reissue Fee: $55
  • Remove a Restriction: $20
  • Add a Court Restriction: $15
  • APS Suspensions: $100
  • Drug-Related Suspensions: $24

These fines only represent the DMV charges. You may also be required to pay court-sanctioned penalties above and beyond those listed here. Your local California DMV office can help you understand the charges you owe the DMV, but you may need legal representation to navigate any additional penalties.

How to Obtain a Restricted CDL

In some circumstances, you may be eligible for a restricted CDL. You’re likely a good candidate if you’re license hasn’t previously been suspended and if you were driving a non-commercial vehicle at the time of your arrest.

A restricted CDL gives you specific driving privileges. You will not be permitted to operate a commercial vehicle, but you will have the ability to drive to and from DUI treatment programs. These licenses are available for 6 months for a first offense without an alleged refusal. You can apply 30 days after you receive your Order of Suspension.

You’ll be eligible for a restricted CDL if:

  • You haven’t had another violation in the last ten years
  • You submitted to a BAC test
  • You were at least 21 years old when the arrest occurred
  • Your CDL isn’t suspended for any other reason

If you’re granted a restricted CDL, you’ll need to:

  • Enroll in a DUI first-offender program and obtain proof of such enrollment directly from the program’s administration
  • Submit proof of your financial responsibility to the California DMV (an SR22 from your insurance company)
  • Pay the $125 fee

If approved, your restriction will only be good for five months. You’ll need to wait out the remainder of your sentence once that time expires.

If you’ve been arrested for a DUI, it’s important to contact an experienced DUI attorney as soon as possible. Time is especially of the essence if you’re the owner of a CDL and need to ensure your household’s income isn’t more delayed than necessary. Schedule a private consultation with Los Angeles DUI lawyer Jon Artz today!

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