Off the Road…How Pennsylvania CDL truck drivers get the worst of a DUI accusation

Question:  Out of everyone charged with a DUI in Pennsylvania, who gets punished the worst?

Answer:  A motorist who has a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) .

If you are a fair person, then this post will probably be very memorable to you because it talks about one of the most unfair and ridiculous possible results of a DUI accusation.

A person who has a CDL and is accused of a DUI in Pennsylvania will get the worst advice ever.  Oftentimes this bad advice does not come from the police officers or Troopers who accuse them of the crime of DUI, but from attorneys who THEY PAY TO DEFEND THEM and advertise as being an "expert" DUI attorney.

It never ceases to amaze me how some people simply put three letters in the phone book, such as D-U-I, and then claim to be experts in something that they really know little about.

One of the biggest sources of error, malpractice and ineffectiveness that we consistently find with some attorneys is that they do not know of the large and massive consequences that face a person who holds a CDL when there is an accusation of a DUI.

Here’s the situation


Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (or ARD for short which is a pre-trial diversionary program for first time offenders) is not an option for a CDL holder as an ARD disposition counts a conviction for CDL disqualification purposes per 75 Pa C S A §1603. There will be a one (1) year loss of CDL for ANY ARD disposition even if it does not suspend the motorist’s non-commercial driver’s license. If there is a loss due to ARD (i.e., 30 days or 60 days) the one (1) year will be served consecutively to the ARD suspension. See e.g., 75 Pa CSA §1611(a), 75 Pa C S A §1603, 35 Pa.B. 5586, Number 41 (October 8, 2005). If it is a refusal or a “serious traffic offense” with hazardous materials aboard, then it is an additional three (3) years. 75 Pa CSA §1611(b). A lifetime disqualification for a CDL is in order if (1) two or more separate violations arising from a separate series of events of the enumerated disqualifying events listed above and in subsection (a) or (2) two or more chemical test refusals per §1613 arising from separate and distinct events or (3) a combination of (1) or (2) supra that arise from two (2) separate and distinct events. 75 Pa CSA §1611(c).

And here comes the truly unfair part…..

The above consequences happen if you are in your personal vehicle. Under the law, it is irrelevant if you are in your personal vehicle or in a commercial motor vehicle. How is that fair?

 Again, has this "war on DUI" has gone too far?

 We say yes. If you are a CDL license holder, then give us a call. We know and we understand. We represent a lot of truckers. We like truckers because we know that you folks are the safest people out on the road and without you we wouldn’t have any of our nice things as 85+% of all of the thiings that we buy on a daily basis are brought to us through trucks and people like you who have CDLs.

Justin McShane

PA DUI attorney Justin J. McShane is the President/CEO of The McShane Firm, LLC - Pennsylvania's top criminal law and DUI law firm. He is the highest rated DUI attorney in PA as rated by Justin McShane is a double Board certified attorney. He is the first and so far the only Pennsylvania attorney to achieve American Bar Association recognized board certification in DUI defense from the National College for DUI Defense, Inc. He is also a Board Certified Criminal Trial Advocate by the National Board of Trial Advocacy, a Pennsylvania Supreme Court Approved Agency.

3 responses to “Off the Road…How Pennsylvania CDL truck drivers get the worst of a DUI accusation”

  • My cdl license has been disqualified for LIFE due to 2 convictions of driving while suspended. The first convictions was due to unemployment and child support payment fell behind and before I knew they was suspended I was pulled over for routine dui check point in my personal vehicle. Second offense was in my company truck and my license was suspended due to a parking ticket that I failed to pay.( All this unknown to me at the time because I moved out of state but kept my orginal state license because thats where I worked.) Well this time I was pulled over for a routine D.O.T. inspection and my license was suspended due to the above mention ticket and I was carried by the state police who was inspecting my truck to the judge of whom I owed this ticket to. I paid my fine in full and also paid the driving while suspended ticket in full not knowing this would be my second conviction that would end my driving career. Had I known this was the case I would have fought the ticket and pleaded for a lesser charge so that my license and my Way of Life would not come to and abrupt end. With all that said…Is there anyway of me getting my license back? I am 45 years old and it is a little late in my life to change careers. I don’t have a accident or dui or any seriuos or major offenses during my driving career. I am a very safe conscious driver and I LOVE what I do for a living.

  • Darryl "Scott" Liberati says:

    Just found out about the lifetime disqualification. I AM FLOORED!!!!!!!!!!! 2 separate DUI’s and one of them involved a refusal. I received a 1 year disqualification on each DUI plus a LIFETIME disqualification for the refusal,not to mention 16-42 mos. state time,almost 5000.00 in fines and YES they happened in a non commercial vehicle. In essence I received 3 disqualifications for 2 offenses that did not happen in a commercial vehicle. Was I wrong? YES! I shouldn’t have to pay for the rest of my life!!

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