All drivers have a responsibility to operate their vehicles as safely as possible, as well as to obey traffic laws. But commercial drivers have even bigger responsibilities. Because they tend to drive larger vehicles that potentially carry dangerous goods, they’re held to a higher standard of safety than usual.
That higher standard also applies when it comes to Arkansas’ driving while intoxicated (DWI) laws. DWI rules are particularly stringent for those with a commercial driver’s license (CDL). A DWI can have serious repercussions on a CDL holder’s professional and personal life.
Legal BAC limits for CDL holders
Per state law, a driver faces a DWI charge if their blood alcohol content (BAC) level is at least .08% at the time of their offense. However, that limit is stricter for CDL holders. Instead of .08%, the legal limit for CDL holders is an even lower .04%.
The lower BAC limit reflects the increased level of trust and responsibility in operating large and potentially hazardous vehicles.
A driver’s BAC is measured through a chemical test such as a breathalyzer. If a CDL holder refuses to undergo testing, their license is automatically disqualified for one year.
Penalties for CDL DWIs
A CDL holder who violates the state’s DWI laws commits a Class B misdemeanor. On conviction for their first offense, the driver faces up to 90 days in jail and $1,000 in fines. In addition, their CDL is disqualified for one whole year, during which the driver isn’t allowed to operate any commercial motor vehicle.
If a CDL holder has previous DWI offenses, the court can order an assessment of the driver’s degree of alcohol or substance abuse. The court can also require the driver to undergo substance abuse treatment and perform at least 30 to 60 days of community service. A second or subsequent conviction can lead to the disqualification of the driver’s CDL for life.
For commercial drivers, the stakes are high when it comes to DWI charges in Arkansas. A single mistake can jeopardize your safety, that of others, and your career. If you face a DWI charge, it’s advisable to seek legal counsel immediately to understand your rights and explore your options under state law.