Oklahoma DUI & a Commercial Driver’s License

Can I still work?

We make a living by what we get,
But we make a life by what we give.

In recent years, the federal government has taken steps to ensure uniform requirements for Commercial Driver’s Licenses (CDL) throughout the United States.  By threatening to withhold federal highway money from the States, the federal government is forcing the States to pass new laws or amend current laws to toughen penalties for commercial drivers.  Oklahoma has conceded to this pressure and amended Oklahoma’s laws concerning commercial drivers to be almost identical to the federal regulations.

Under these new laws, even if your charge is dismissed with payment of court costs or you receive a deferred sentence resulting in no conviction, the charge will be counted as a conviction for purposes of your CDL.  If you enter a guilty plea or a no contest plea, the charge will be counted as a conviction for purposes of your CDL.

The Department of Public Safety will ban your CDL for a period of one year if you are driving or in actual physical control of a commercial vehicle with a blood or breath alcohol level of .04 or more.  If you refuse to take a chemical test while driving or in actual physical control of a commercial vehicle, your CDL will also be banned for one year.

Your CDL will be banned if you are operating any motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol or any other intoxicating substances or combination thereof.  This means if you are driving your personal vehicle and receive a DUI or APC, the State will ban your CDL for one year.

If you are driving a commercial vehicle which requires a placard for hazardous material and your CDL is banned for the reasons outlined in the previous two paragraphs, the period of banning is increased to three years.  If it is your second conviction for DUI or APC, your CDL will be banned for life.

The Department of Public Safety will ban your CDL for 60 days if you receive a second conviction within a three year period for a serious traffic offense while operating a commercial vehicle.  If it is your third conviction within a three year period, the ban will be for 120 days and is consecutive to any other suspensions for serious traffic offenses.

A serious traffic offense includes speeding 15 miles per hour or more over the limit, reckless driving, erratic or unsafe lane changes, following too close, and not possessing your CDL or proper endorsements.  These violations must have occurred in a commercial vehicle.

You are thinking “no big deal, it’s my first one so I can get it modified.”  Not true.  Oklahoma only provides for modification of Class D (operator’s) driving privileges.  There is no statutory or legal avenue to get your CDL modified in Oklahoma.  If you are convicted of DUI or APC and have a CDL, you will not be able to work for one year or perhaps your lifetime if your job requires a CDL.

One last point of distinction, even though your CDL is banned for a year or life, the operator’s or Class D portion of your license will only be suspended for the same amount of time as a person without a CDL.  If the suspension of your Class D portion is 180 days, it can be modified to allow you to drive your non-commercial vehicle with an ignition interlock device installed for the 180 days and then you can have your Class D privileges reinstated for the remainder of the year that your CDL is disqualified.

As you can see, your livelihood is at stake. A conviction for DUI or APC can have a lifetime effect on your ability to make a living.  Most lawyers do not understand the complexities of the requirements for a CDL.  It is important to speak with skilled lawyers who understand that your livelihood is at stake.

Hope is not lost however.  A skilled DUI attorney can challenge the revocation and criminal case resulting in the prevention of a conviction and license loss.

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