Individuals who hold commercial driver’s licenses (CDL) operate large vehicles, which include those that weigh 26,001 or more pounds, carry 16 or more passengers, transport students, or transport hazardous materials. Because commercial vehicles are generally larger than private cars, they can cause a great deal of damage if involved in an accident. As such, greater restrictions are placed on CDL holders than on non-CDL holders.
Driving with Any Amount of Alcohol Prohibited
The harsher regulations on CDL holders are apparent in Pennsylvania’s DUI laws. Under Vehicle Code § 1612, it is unlawful for a person with any amount of alcohol in their system to operate or have control of a commercial vehicle or school bus. If they violate this statute while driving a commercial vehicle, they could be charged with a summary offense and could face a $100 fine and a 24-hour suspension of their CDL if convicted.
If they are caught operating a school bus, they also face a summary offense charge, but the fine is $250 for the first offense. The fine increases to $500 for a second and subsequent offense. If convicted, their employer could prohibit them from driving for 30 days.
Lower BAC Limits and Increased Penalties
Increased CDL restrictions also apply to the amount of alcohol found in the driver’s system. For non-CDL holders, the legal blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limit is .08%. However, the limit drops to .04% for commercial drivers and .02% for school bus drivers. The lower BAC levels apply whether the CDL holder is driving their personal vehicle or a commercial vehicle.
CDL holders also face greater penalties for first-time DUI convictions. That’s because driving at or above the legal limits for the type of vehicle they are operating places them in Pennsylvania’s “High Rate” DUI tier. Non-CDL holders are placed in this tier only if their BAC was between .10% and .159%.
For a first-time conviction, a CDL holder faces imprisonment for up to 6 months and a fine of up to $5,000. Their driver’s license could also be suspended for 12 months. In contrast, a non-CDL holder faces up to 6 months of probation and a $300 fine for their first DUI conviction. Also, they do not face a driver’s license suspension.
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