The Hudson Law Office
Aggressive DUI Defense
Sarasota, Bradenton (941) 957-0500
Key West (305) 292-8384
What if I have a Commercial
by Tom Hudson
Many Florida drivers have not
just a standard non-commercial (Class E) drivers license, but rather a
Commercial Drivers License (CDL). The basic rules about CDL's are
established by Federal law, specifically Title 49 or the Code of Federal
Regulations. (CFR) The states are charged with enforcing CDL law,
but it is almost identical from state to state. If you are driving a
commercial vehicle, you will be in violation of the law if your breath
alcohol is over .04--one-half the alcohol concentration for noncommercial
Even if you are in a non-commercial vehicle, conviction of a DUI will
result in a one year disqualification to drive on your CDL. And a
second DUI--even in a private vehicle--will result in a
The following is a summary of the law of Florida:
Driver License Classes and
Commercial Driver Licenses (CDL)
Trucks or truck combinations weighing with a Gross Vehicle Weight Rating
of 26,001 lbs. or more, provided towed vehicle is more than 10,000 lbs.
CLASS B: Straight trucks weighing 26,001 lbs. Gross Vehicle Weight
Rating or more.
CLASS C: Vehicles transporting placardable
amounts of hazardous materials, or vehicles designed to transport more
than 15 persons including the driver with a Gross Vehicle Weight Rating
of less than 26,001 lbs.
NonCommercial Driver Licenses
CLASS E: Any non-commercial motor vehicles with Gross Vehicle Weight
Rating (GVWR) less than 26,001 pounds, including passenger cars, 15
passenger vans including the driver, trucks or recreational vehicles and
two or three wheel motor vehicles 50 cc or less, such as mopeds or small
scooters. (see below). Farmers and drivers of authorized emergency
vehicles who are exempt from obtaining a commercial driver license must
obtain a Class E license.
A resident who holds a valid Florida
operator license may continue to operate vehicles for which a CLASS E
driver license is required, until the operator license expires.
year olds cannot drive from 11 PM to 6 AM unless accompanied by 21 year
old licensed driver or driving to and from work.
17 year olds cannot
drive from 1 AM to 5 AM unless accompanied by 21 year old licensed
driver or driving to and from work.
CLASS E-Learner: Motor vehicles
less than 8,000 LBS.
A resident who holds a valid Florida learner
license may continue to operate vehicles for which a CLASS E learner
license is required, until the license expires.
Learner license has
the following conditions:
Always with a licensed driver who is at
least 21 years old and occupies the front seat.
Only drive during
daylight hours for the first three months, and from 6:00AM to 10:00PM
Does not allow for the operation of a motorcycle.
For those authorized to operate motorcycle, the
following abbreviation will appear on the front of the driver license
under the expiration date: MOTORCYCLE ALSO or MOTORCYCLE ONLY
For our Military servicemembers and families, important
information and assistance is available here.
The following persons are exempt from the requirements to obtain a
commercial driver license:
Drivers of authorized emergency
vehicles that are equipped with extraordinary audible warning devices
that display red or blue lights and are on call to respond to
Military personnel driving military vehicles; or
Farmers transporting farm supplies or farm machinery, or transporting
agricultural products to or from the first place of storage or
processing or directly to or from market, within 150 miles of their
Drivers of recreational vehicles used for recreational
Drivers who operate straight trucks (single units) that
are exclusively transporting their own tangible personal property which
is not for sale.
An employee of a publicly owned transit system who
is limited to moving vehicles for maintenance or parking purposes
exclusively within the restricted-access confines of a transit system's
commercial vehicle is any vehicle used in commerce with a gross weight
rating of 26,001 pounds or more. 49 CFR 383.5 / 42-4-402(4)( a)(1);
Disqualification from having a CDL
There are 6 ways to be disqualified from having a
Convictions for: (Note that a DMV revocation hearing counts as a
conviction) Conviction is defined as "An unvacated adjudication of
guilt; finding by a court or an authorized administrative body of a
violation; forfeiture of bail; plea of guilty or nolo contendere;
payment of fine or court cost; or violation of a condition of release
without bail. 49 CFR 383.5
If a commercial drivers license is revoked, or it is suspended for more
than 1 year, the driver must be retested. Suspensions under 1 year are
1. Major disqualifying offenses. (1 year loss for driving a regular CV.
3 years for a hazmat vehicle. Lifetime CDL ban for a second offense )
Unlike many other states, Florida does not allow for reinstatement after
10 years under the federal law.
a. Any conviction of an alcohol-related traffic offense in a "Commercial
Motor Vehicle" OR in a Non-commercial Motor Vehicle. 49 CFR 383.51(b)(1)
b. A second DUI in a lifetime disqualifies the driver from ever having a
commercial drivers license for life. This applies to the entire range of
DUI-related suspensions (DUI, Refusal to give a breath sample,
have to be the same disqualifying offense. A DUI in a personal vehicle
prior to September 2005 does not count toward 2 in a lifetime. 49 CFR
c. Driving a Commercial Motor Vehicle with a Breath or Blood Alcohol
Content in excess of .04. 49 CFR 383.51
d. Leaving the scene of an accident in any vehicle. 49 CFR 383.51(b)(5)
e. Any felony involving a motor vehicle. 49 CFR 383.51(b)(6)
f. "If the felony involves the manufacture, distribution or dispensing
of controlled substances, then the driver is disqualified for life on
the first conviction." (Mobile meth labs, for example) 49 CFR
g. Conviction for negligently causing the death of another person while
driving a Commercial Motor Vehicle. 49 CFR 383.51(b)(8) .
h. Driving a Commercial Motor Vehicle with a revoked or cancelled
commercial drivers license or while otherwise disqualified from driving
a Commercial Motor Vehicle. 49 CFR 383.51(b)(7)
2. Serious traffic violations in any vehicle. But if driving a
non-Commercial Motor Vehicle, the action is taken only if the triggering
conviction also results in a restraint of regular driving privileges.
(i.e., a points suspension) 49 CFR 383.51(c)
"2nd conviction for violations occurring within 3 years requires 60 day
CDL loss if and only if the conviction triggers loss of regular driving
"3rd or subsequent conviction for violations occurring within 3 years
requires 120 day loss of CDL if the conviction triggers loss of regular
"Length of disqualification for serious traffic violations in a
Commercial Motor Vehicle." No effect on regular driving privilege is
required. 49 CFR 383.51(c)
"2nd conviction in 3 years requires 60 day loss of CDL."
"3rd or subsequent conviction in 3 years requires 120 loss of CDL."
*** Under federal law, Judges are not allowed to "mask" convictions. 49
CFR 384.226. "The state must not mask, defer imposition of judgment, or
allow an individual to enter into a diversion program that would prevent
a commercial drivers license driver's conviction for any violation, in
any type of motor vehicle, of a state or local traffic control law
(except a parking violation) from appearing on a driver's record,
whether the driver was convicted of an offense committed in the state
where the driver license is licensed or another state." -- This means
that, where CDL's are concerned there is no sealing or expungement of
records, and no withheld adjudications or pretrial intervention.
a. 15 MPH over the
limit. 49 CFR 383.51(c)(1)
b. Reckless 49 CFR 353.51(c)(2) NOTE: Careless is not a serious
violation due to vagueness.
c. Improper or erratic lane changes. 49 CFR 383.51(c)(3)
d. Following too closely. 49 CFR 383.51(c)(4)
e. Driving a Commercial Motor Vehicle without having obtained a
commercial drivers license. 49 CFR 383.51(c)(6)
f. No commercial drivers license in possession 49 CFR 383.51 (c)(7)
g. Having a commercial drivers license with the incorrect class or
h. Being convicted of any motor vehicle violation (non-parking) , no
matter how minor (e.g., burned out light bulb), when involved in a fatal
accident. 49 CFR 383.51 (c)(5)
3. Railroad grade crossing violations 49 CFR 383.51(d)
a. These violations apply only if the CDL holder is driving a Commercial
Motor Vehicle at the time of the violation:
60 days for 1st conviction. 120 days for 2nd
conviction in 3 years. 1 year for 3 or more convictions in 3 years.
4. Violations of out-of-service orders. Driver, vehicle 49 CFR
396.7(c)(1), or motor carrier is out-of-service. No conviction required.
Must be driving a Commercial Motor Vehicle. Driver is placed out of
service for 24 hours. 49 CFR 383.51(c) /
a. Consumed alcohol within
the preceding 4 hours. 49 CFR 392.5(a)(1)
b. Any detectable alcohol in system. 49 CFR 392.5(a)(2)
c. Driver "on duty" has personal possession of alcohol. "On duty"
constitutes more than just driving. 49 CFR 392.5(a)(3)
d. Driver on duty refuses chemical test. This does not require PC to
test. (e.g., Every driver at a weigh station could be asked to submit to
e. Out of service for time violations. 49 CFR 395.3; 395.5; 395.13 (Time
is extended for adverse weather conditions. 49 CFR 395(1)(b)
Driver of property-carrying vs. passenger-carrying Commercial Motor
Vehicle out of service requirements are different. More serious for
property-carrying due to weight of vehicles.
Violating an out-of-service order
1st conviction: 90 days to 1 year if non-hazmat. 180 days to 2 years if
hazmat. Plus $1,100 to $2,750. 49 CFR 383.51(c)(1)
2nd conviction: 1 to 5 years if non-hazmat. 3 to 5 years if hazmat.
or more in 10 years: commercial drivers license disqualified for 3 - 5
years no matter what type of Commercial Motor Vehicle you are driving.
State laws may be more restrictive
In Florida, you are entitled to a hearing. The issue at the hearing is
"Did the driver receive a conviction or deferred sentence for violating
an OSO?" The HO can reduce the period of disqualification after
a. The circumstances of the violation.
b. The driving record.
c. Aggravating and mitigating factors.
d. Other factors the HO finds relevant.
Under no circumstances shall
the period be less than the minimum length.
5. Cancel / Deny based on false statement. 49 CFR 383.73(g) The only
issues at the hearing are:
a. Whether the driver falsified information.
b. Whether the driver was under restraint at the time of the application
for the commercial drivers license.
If either issue is found, no commercial drivers license for 60 days. Any
driving restraint whatsoever means no commercial drivers license
6. Driver an imminent hazard (By federal authorities) 42 CFR 383.5;
383.52; 386.72(b)(1) ; 392.3
At the Hudson Law
Office, we focus
our criminal practice on one thing: the defense of DUI cases. Tom
Hudson is trained as a Breath Test Operator, as a NHTSA Drug Recognition
Expert (DRE), and as an Instructor of the
Standardized Field Sobriety Tests. He regularly trains other lawyers
in the scientific principles underlying DUI prosecutions, and he is the
only lawyer in Florida who has successfully
completed the challenging Board Certification Examination given by the
National College for DUI Defense. There is
simply no one in this region with more training and experience to defend
your DUI charge. We try a lot of DUI cases, which means
that the State Attorneys know us and know that we are not bluffing.
Experience makes a difference. Let us make a difference for you. Call
us at 941-957-0500.
2003-2011 Law Office of Thomas S. Hudson, P.A. All Rights Reserved