Dear Pennsylvania DUI Lawyer: CDL Driver DUI

If you are a Pennsylvania CDL Driver who has been charged with a DUI, you are in serious threat of losing your job. Call 1-866-MCSHANE now for a free case review. We have the knowledge and experience you need to defend your case and protect your future. No one can match our training and expertise in CDL cases.

Every Friday we take a look at some of the most commonly asked questions about Pennsylvania DUI so we can clear up any misconceptions and provide you with the most up-to-date and accurate information about Pennsylvania DUI laws and related topics. Today:

Dear Pennsylvania DUI Lawyer,

I am a CDL truck driver licensed in here in Pennsylvania. I was pulled over in York County and charged with a DUI when I wasn’t in my commercial vehicle even though my BAC was only .09. I have never been charged with a crime before. Will this DUI effect my Pennsylvania CDL license?

CDL Drivers Face Harsh Penalties for Pennsylvania DUI
CDL Drivers Face Harsh Penalties for Pennsylvania DUI

Simply put, if you are convicted of this charge, you are in a lot of trouble. The way the current DUI laws are structured in Pennsylvania, CDL Drivers Face the Harshest Penalties for a Pennsylvania DUI. Here are some important points for you to keep in mind:

  1. Under Pennsylvania DUI Law, it is irrelevant to a CDL license holder if the DUI occurred in a commercial vehicle or in a personal vehicle. The limits, laws and penalties remain the same. However, the consequences are worse.
  2. Normally, the per se rate for a Pennsylvania DUI is .08. However, for a CDL driver while in his/her commercial vehicle, the per se rate is .04. Furthermore, a BAC between .04 and .159 is treated as a “High Rate” DUI which is the second tier, normally for those who have a BAC between .10 and .159.
  3. In addition to the legal penalties for a Pennsylvania DUI conviction you will be facing a 1 year CDL disqualification in addition to whatever happens to your non-CDL license. If you were in your commercial vehicle and convicted of being over the limit, there is an additional one year loss of your CDL. If you were carrying hazardous substances this will increase to 3 years. For a second DUI, even if both were in your personal vehicle, for a Pennsylvania CDL driver will result in a lifetime ban.
  4. The legal penalties for a first offense CDL DUI in Pennsylvania are:
    1. Jail: at least 2 days up to 6 months incarceration
    2. Fines: $500-$5,000 plus surcharges
    3. Personal License Suspension: 12 months to your non-CDL license and longer to your CDL license
    4. Commercial License Suspension: 12 months (3 years for hazardous substances)
  5. For CDL Drivers, Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD) will not reduce their CDL disqualification. Many attorneys who claim to be expert Pennsylvania DUI Lawyers advise CDL drivers to opt for the ARD program, so beware. This is bad advice; malpractice if you ask me. The only way you can avoid a CDL suspension is to fight the case and get a “not guilty” verdict or get the charges dropped.
  6. Many trucking companies may avoid hiring your if you have a DUI on your record- and the DUI will stay on your record forever. It never goes away. Even though they will not state it outright, you can bet on having a very difficult time finding work.

I have represented many CDL drivers who were facing Pennsylvania DUI charges and have helped many of them win their cases. Each case is entirely different but you can rest assured that I have the knowledge, experience and guts to fight your case. Here are some testimonials for CDL Drivers I represented on various Pennsylvania DUI charges:

Justin McShane represented me in February 2009 before Judge Evans on a DUI case. He and his team got me a complete and total not guilty victory. It was awesome! I am a CDL truck driver and if I had even an ARD that means I would have lost my job, my house and everything. Thanks Justin. You guys are AWESOME!

Dear Justin,

I want to sincerely thank you for your incredible honesty, integrity, and professionalism in the case of my DUI back in February, 2009.

After my arrest on December 29, 2007 you have given my case the care and respect beyond what any other attorney wanted to give me. After the initial meeting with you I was impressed so much that I actually could not believe what I was hearing. You described how you would go about handling my case and described to me what no other attorney could describe because of their lack of knowledge and experience in this field. I had sat down with two other attorney’s in the DUI field and came out in a very depressed state. The first attorney told me to just plead guilty, the other attorney said for $500 he would take care of my case. He never said exactly how or what he would do for me.

When I sat down with you Mr. McShane you told me how this was my livelyhood, I realize even more today how important it was, I could never have worked with another trucking company or any other job of any meaning if I would have been convicted of DUI, for that matter I would had lost my job of $23 per hour driving truck. It was your persistence and determination to see to that I was found NOT GUILTY. I had been to the Dauphin County Courthouse over 7 times, due to the fact that the police department would not bring evidence and or police officers who were required to appear and either or the evidence or the police officers would not show up. If it weren’t for your persistence in filing motions in the court for this evidence and or police officers named this case would have went to trial and I would have been found GUILTY. Many times I was about to give up when you explained to me that could give up, but that you had felt had a solid case and if I did what you had asked of me that you felt with an 80 to 90% confidence, I would be found NOT GUILTY.

Your professionalism, knowledge of all the equipment involved in a DUI, your expert witnesses, and the handling of the entire case is something to be added to the law books. In fact I think it was mentioned that this case is a break through in many way’s and that it will go down in case law? I have even went under my name in [Google] and have found the case.

I have not thanked you enough and I cannot thank you enough or express my deepest thanks not only to you, but to your entire staff! The professionalism, knowledge, experience and caring of your staff is second to none!

If you are in Harrisburg, York or anywhere in central Pennsylvania and need an expert Pennsylvania DUI Lawyer to represent your Pennsylvania CDL DUI case, please call 1-866-MCSHANE for a free consultation.

If you would like to ask a question, please submit it via the contact us link.

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.

28 responses to “Dear Pennsylvania DUI Lawyer: CDL Driver DUI”

  • I just wanted to know if you had a DUI 6 years ago under a class A license, now you would like to get a CDL, would that automatically disqualify you of getting the CDL?
    Thank you.

  • Shelby,
    We need a little more information here. I am going to presume that you are a valid Pennsylvania license holder. I am also going to presume that you had a DUI prior to 2004. Finally, I am going to presume that that prior DUI was in a non-commercial vehicle. If all of those are true, then you should remain eligible to get your CDL. Call into our office, if you would like ot talk some more about it. We are here to help. 7176573900.

    • Thank you. I think I might give you a call. The problem is that it wasn’t me, it was my husband. It was an underage DUI that happened April, 2004. I don’t know if it has to do with the BAC either which was (.10-.16), He completed ARD but I don’t know if this will help or if it would not make him elgible for a CDL. Thanks for all your help!

  • I got a dui on friday, I didn’t do the breath test, but i had trouble standing the way she told me to stand, I only refused the breath test because of the terms she used and i told the officer that i didn’t understand the question. The officer said that if i had taken the breath test i would have gotten a different charge not a dui. I believe i was under .08 at the time of the blood test but i have a CDL. Do i lose my license or just my CDL if my BAC is under is between .04-..079 /

    • If you are convicted or accept an ARD disposition for DUI and this is a first offense within 10 years, you will be disqualified for one year in addition to whatever happens with your personal license. This is why if you hold a CDL or want to hold a CDL, you must have an experienced attorney like us help you. You will get a lot of bad advice from a lot of different people, but go with an expert and you will have true answers. Give us a ring.

  • I am 57 years old and have been driving tractor trailer for over 20 years. Back in 2000 I got a DUI in my personal vehicle. Stupidly I was driving my bike recently and got another DUI. Will I lose my CDL for life? My wife is disabled and I’m the only income for my family.

    • A second DUI while you are licensed CDL will result in a lifetime ban in PA for a CDL license. Even though you have a charge of DUi on a bicycle the same outcome happens if there is a conviction.

  • daniel johnson says:

    My friend recently had a dui he has a cdl and 10 yrs ago was his last dui, and yes he had a cdl back then, does the lifetime ban apply here we are wondering was the law for cdl changed in the last 10 yrs. will he lose his cdl for life?

    thank you

  • I was charged with a DUI 21 days before my 18th birthday, it was a mistake and I do regret it, my dad is a truck driver and I would like to persue a career in commercial truck driving, I was wondering if its possible to still aquire my cdl

    • Justin J. McShane says:

      We would be happy to help you. We need to know all the details of your case and then we will be able to get you in the best possible direction. Truckers are important. It is the main way that we get goods, food and services across the US. It is an honorable and important profession. We take great pride in protecting them. Please give us a call today at 7176573900.

  • I had a CDL out of Penna.I was in Nashville,tenn,TA truckstop at a secured safe haven I thought,my truck had been parked there for 2 days empty and the nite off,I decided to get a cab to town catch a game at a local sportsbar a drank a few beers with a meal. I decided to take a cab back to the truckstop and being responsible,upon returning to my parked truck the rental cop hired by the TA decided to ask me for my log book cause I was not walking straight enough for him.I told him no way your not authorized too,so I proceded to enter my truck to sleep,no keys in the ignition or started the rig.The next thing Im getting awoke by a Tennesee state trooper at the truckstop and asked to come out and take a field test and a breathalyzer,I refused went to jail for 22 days,went to appear in front of the judge and was awarded a full DUI fine,community service,loss of license,rehab,and probation…lost everything,nail the out of state driver,working man just trying to do the right thing

  • @rick – I am so sorry to hear your story – it is hardly a fair system particularly the part of sleeping in one’s car. I just don’t know why cops have to be like that.

  • DUIs just totally suck. I wonder how many people have lost their jobs, houses, marriages, just simply because they were going home from their neighborhood bar.

    MADD’s whole goal is to bring about prohibition again.Google it. They are already talking about lowering the legal limit to .05. When that happens the cops will be super busy every friday and saturday.

    • Um hello!!! Because drinking is ILLEGAL!!!! I wonder how many people have lost their lives to drinking and driving?!??!?! Think about that!

      • Actually, you are 100% wrong. In Pennsylvania, if you are over 21, then it is not illegal to literally drink and then drive. You may do so so long as your breath or blood does not go over 0.08% or that you become “substantially impaired” due to ethanol as to the essential acts of driving.

        In fact, for those under 21, in Pennsylvania, they cannot be convicted of a DUI unless that person’s breath or blood is over 0.02% or that you become “substantially impaired” due to ethanol as to the essential acts of driving.

        The same is true for CDL drivers in a commercial vehicle or those in a school vehicle, except for the limit of 0.04%.

        Your comment is your right, but the law is as it is. It is not illegal to drink and then to drive. Thank you for your comment.

  • I would like to know if there is a defense for a dui. Because everyone says they can help until charges r filed especially with there big retainers. Because u know it is a business anymore just like law enforcement. But us cdl drivers busting our butts r the only one loosing out. Regular people dont care the can just plead ard and not worry

    • There are a lot of bad and unethical lawyers out there I am ashamed to report. No attorney should issue you a guarantee or a promise to do anything other than to use their reputation knowledge and experience to try to minimize or eliminate the consequences that you are facing.

      I actually personally love to help people charged with DUIs who have CDLs. Here is why. If your living does not depend on your driving, then a license suspension is an inconvenience– something to be a bother. For a CDL, it is a livelihood. But it is more than that. It effects the whole family. You lose your license, you lose your job, you lose your house, you lose your spouse, you lose your kids, you lose everything.

      We don’t over-promise, we tell you the truth. The truth is in the statistics. Although the state bar prohibits us form publishing a win loss record, what I can share with you is that statistically if you go with someone like us who obsesses over DUI and has all of our training, you are likely to turn out with a disposition that may save your career.

      Why personal conduct in your private life should effect your job is beyond me. But for CDL drivers this is the reality all across the US. It takes skill, courage, know how and guts to defend a CDL truck driver. We have all of that and more.

      We are happy to talk with you free of charge. You have literally everything to lose, but nothing to lose by talking with us.

  • I got a dui 11 years ago before I was 21,and did not possess a cdl at the time. Now 11 years later I had a cdl for 10 years. I recently received a dui. Will I be able to get my cdl back? I didn’t have it( my cdl ) when I got my first 11 years ago….

    • Mr. Walkup,
      Commercial Driver’s Licenses are very important. They take a lot of work to earn. It is an important job that keeps goods in our family’s homes. I appreciate all of that hard work. Without trucks and truck drivers we would be hard up as a society. This is why one of our most important clients are CDL holders. A CDL issue is very fact intensive. Why not call in today and chat with us. The call and the advice can be helpful and is free if you have open pending charges. 7176573900

  • I received a dui last year i just got my PA drivers license reinstated. I am 20 now and 19 when i received my DUI. Im getting my permit for cdl this april and hopefully my cdl by november of this year when i turn 21 im soon getting my exponged and i was wondering that even with the expongement would i still have a hard time finding a company to hire me. This is my only charge iv always had a clean record just a stupid teenage mistake.

    • Yours is a fine case of why every DUI is so important. What lawyers fail to tell people is that although your criminal record is expunged upon proper completion of ARD, your driver’s history that will show an ARD DUI will not be expunged. Without a doubt any trucking firm worth its salt will pull your driver’s record. It will show the ARD DUI. It will greatly reduce your chances of getting a job in the CDL field. This is why it is vitally important to not just blindly accept ARD with no thought to it.

  • Saturday Nov 15 2015 I got a pull over at about 5am, crossed the line 3 times did a field sobriety Test then was taken to the department where I blew.11. I’m a current cdl holder with a cdl job.. if I lose my job I moat likely will lose everything g I have worked for! With a first offense is it possible to get rid of the one year cdl suspension?

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