DUI Commercial Vehicles
As serious as a charge of driving while intoxicated may be for Nevada’s ordinary citizens, the commercial driver who imbibes before he gets behind the wheel will have a far tougher row to hoe. Nevada not only holds such drivers to higher standards but also subjects them to harsher punishments if convicted of DUI (NRS 484C.120). The differences can be striking.
The Blood Alcohol Level (BAC)
Nevada law considers an ordinary Class C licensee who drives a private vehicle with a blood alcohol content lower than .08 to be sober, but for the holder of a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) at the helm of a commercial vehicle, a BAC of only .04 is sufficient grounds for a DUI conviction. Even with a BAC under .04, a commercial driver in the state of Nevada may still face charges of DUI if his behavior and the manner in which he handles his vehicle lead law enforcement to believe that he is driving under the influence. The police can order such a driver off the road for 24 hours even when he appears to be perfectly sober.
What is a Commercial Vehicle?
The state of Nevada defines a commercial motor vehicle as any conveyance other than a taxicab designed to transport people or goods for commercial purposes. Such vehicles include delivery trucks, buses and shuttles. For a commercial DUI conviction, however, the vehicle must also be one of the following:
- A Class B single conveyance with a gross vehicle weight rating, or GVWR, of over 26,000 pounds.
- A Class A combination vehicle whose gross combined weight rating, or GCWR, exceeds 26,000 pounds while towing one or more vehicles having a GVWR of over than 10,000 pounds.
- A Class C vehicle intended to convey 16 or more passengers, driver included.
- A Class C vehicle designed to transport hazardous materials.
Legal Penalties for Commercial DUI
In Nevada, the punishment for commercial DUI will vary with a first or subsequent infraction. The state considers a first offense to be a misdemeanor DUI, and the punishment for conviction includes:
- Either 48-96 hours of community service or two days to six months in jail.
- Between $400 and $1,000 in fines.
- A 90-day suspension of an existing non-commercial driver’s license.
Those convicted of commercial DUI in Nevada for the second time within seven years will face:
- Between 10 days and six months in jail.
- A fine of between $700 and $1,000.
- A one-year suspension of an existing non-commercial license.
For either a first or a second conviction, the courts may also require the offender to appear before a victim impact panel, attend DUI school or enter a treatment program for substance abuse. In addition, if the incident has occurred in a work zone, penalties can as much as double.
A Third DUI Offense Within Seven Years
Nevada will charge anyone convicted of a third DUI within seven years as a Category B felon. Punishments for such a crime can include:
- A sentence of from one to six years in state prison.
- A fine of $2,000 to $5,000.
- A three-year suspension of an existing non-commercial license.
Commercial DUI Involving Death or Injury
When any incident of commercial DUI has resulted in the death or serious injury of another, the state of Nevada will charge the driver with a category B felony. Possible penalties include:
- From two to 20 years in state prison.
- Between $2,000 and $5,000 in fines.
- Potential suspension or revocation of an existing non-commercial license.
Penalties will increase for the driver who was transporting a child under the age of 15 at the time of the incident.
The Suspension of the Commercial Driver’s License
In Nevada, a first conviction for commercial DUI will normally result in a one-year suspension of the CDL. This will increase to three years if the arrest took place while the driver transported hazardous materials. For a second commercial DUI conviction, the driver will face the permanent revocation of his CDL. The commercial driver with a BAC of .08 or higher who faces charges of driving a personal vehicle while intoxicated can expect a suspension of both the CDL and the regular license. The same is true for the commercial driver with a BAC less than .08 but higher than .04 who finds himself under arrest for DUI while driving a commercial vehicle.
Why You Need a Good Criminal Defense Attorney
For any commercial driver accused of DUI, adequate representation is essential. Proof of an improper traffic stop, police misconduct or defective testing equipment are just some of the ways in which the experienced criminal defense attorneys at Weiner Law Group can cast sufficient doubt on the allegations, potentially inducing the courts to reduce or dismiss the charges. The same is true when the vehicle in question does not meet the legal definition of a commercial vehicle or if, in the case of death or serious injury, the prosecution fails to prove that the driver’s actions were responsible for the accident.
Conviction of commercial DUI can wreak havoc with a driver’s ability to earn a living. If you should find yourself in this situation, please contact the lawyers at Weiner Law Group at your earliest opportunity.