How Does a DUI Effect Your South Carolina Commercial Driver’s License (CDL)?

Our Mount Pleasant DUI lawyers defend drivers from losing their commercial driver’s license (CDL) as a result of a DUI or a traffic ticket. We know that the inability to drive for any length of time can ruin a commercial driver’s finances whether you’re from South Carolina or you have a CDL from another state. If you’ve been stopped on I-26, I-95, Highway 17, or elsewhere in the Lowcountry, we’ve written this article to explain the effect DUI and other offenses can have on your CDL.

Disqualification of CDL in South Carolina for Alcohol-Related Offenses

South Carolina drivers who possess a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) and who face a DUI or other violations are affected differently, and more severely than non-commercial drivers. Please note that we use the term “disqualified” instead of “suspended” because the holder of a CDL may be eligible to drive a non-commercial vehicle even if he or she lost CDL privileges, depending on the situation.

In South Carolina, a CDL holder is disqualified from driving a commercial vehicle for one year if the driver:

  1. Is convicted of Driving Under the Influence (DUI) or Driving With an Unlawful Alcohol Concentration (DUAC) while driving any vehicle;
  2. Submits a breath sample of 0.04% BAC when arrested for DUI while driving a commercial vehicle; or
  3. Refuses to submit to a blood, urine, or breath test.

Also, if you’re convicted of DUI and you were transporting hazardous materials, then your CDL is disqualified for 3 years. If you’re convicted twice for DUI, you will lose your CDL permanently.

Other Violations That May Disqualify a CDL in South Carolina

While we’re discussing DUI’s and CDL’s, we also want to describe some other violations that can cause you to lose your commercial driving privileges.

In South Carolina, a CDL holder is disqualified from driving a commercial vehicle for one year if the driver:

  1. Leaves the scene of an accident.
  2. Uses a motor vehicle in the commission of a felony.
  3. Drives a motor vehicle while his or her license is suspended, canceled, or revoked for a violation committed while operating a commercial motor vehicle.
  4. Causes a fatality through the negligent operation of a commercial vehicle. If the person was transporting hazardous material to be placarded, the disqualification is for 3 years.

If a second of any of these offenses happens, or any combination of them, the CDL holder is disqualified for life.

If a CDL holder uses a commercial motor vehicle in the commission of a felony involving more than just the possession of a controlled substance, the holder is disqualified for life.

If a CDL holder is convicted of two serious traffic offenses within a 3-year period, the CDL holder is disqualified for 60 days, and if a third conviction occurs within the 3-year period, the disqualification is for 120 days. The following are considered “serious traffic offenses”:

  1. Speeding 15 m.p.h. or more over the speed limit.
  2. Reckless driving, including charges of driving a commercial vehicle in willful or wanton disregard of safety.
  3. Improper or erratic traffic lane changes.
  4. Following too closely.
  5. Violating a traffic law that leads to an accident causing death or serious bodily injury.
  6. Driving a commercial motor vehicle without obtaining a commercial driver’s license.
  7. Driving a commercial vehicle without having the CDL in possession.
  8. Driving a commercial motor vehicle without the proper class of commercial driver’s license, or endorsements for the specific vehicle group being operated or for the passengers or type of cargo being transported, or both.
  9. Any other offenses as defined in 49 C.F.R. 383.5 and 383.51.

A person is disqualified from driving a commercial vehicle if a report under our state law (Section 56-1-2220) shows the DMV that the person failed a drug or alcohol test or refused to take a test. The disqualification lasts until the person undergoes drug and alcohol counseling that meets federal regulations. If a person is disqualified for these things three times in a five-year period, the person is disqualified for life.

Charleston CDL Defense Lawyers

Obviously, if a CDL holder can’t drive, then the driver is unemployable and immediately loses his or her job. Also, if and when the CDL holder is eligible to drive a commercial vehicle again, he or she is a higher employment risk and may carry higher insurance rates so it will likely be much more difficult to find a job. Because of these severe ramifications, any commercial driver who is charged with DUI or DUAC in Charleston or the surrounding areas should contact the lawyers at Futeral & Nelson and schedule a free consultation. We know how to defend DUI’s or traffic tickets and we’ll fight to keep you on the road and to keep your job.

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