Arizona DUI’s and Commercial Driver’s Licenses
DUI arrests are very serious for the holder of a commercial driver’s license (CDL). If a CDL holder is convicted of a DUI then the CDL is disqualified for one year or, if that case involved the transportation of hazardous wastes, three years. If the CDL holder has two Arizona DUI convictions since December 31, 1989, then CDL is disqualified for life. The holder is disqualified for life even if they do not have a prior DUI conviction but since December 31, 1989, they have also been convicted of any of the following:
1. Refusing to submit to a requested chemical test after arrested for DUI;
2. Leaving the Scene of An Accident involving a motor vehicle driven by the holder;
3. Using a motor vehicle in the commission of a felony;
4. Driving commercially while the CDL was revoked;
5. Causing a fatality due to the negligent operation of a commercial vehicle, then the CDL is disqualified for life. The holder can reapply for restoration of the CDL after 10 years.
For CDL purposes a DUI conviction can include more than just a criminal conviction in court. For CDL purposes a conviction includes a finding in an Arizona Department of Transportation, Motor Vehicle Division (MVD) administrative hearing. In the hearing the judge decides one or more of these issues: after being placed under arrest for DUI did the holder refuse to submit to a requested chemical test, did the holder have an alcohol level of .04% or more while driving commercially or while driving any vehicle, .08% or more, or was under the influence of a controlled substance. Though the person may be not be found guilty of DUI in the criminal court, if an MVD administrative law judge finds any of those allegations was true then the CDL is disqualified.
For CDL purposes a conviction for Reckless Driving is far less serious because there is no mandatory disqualification of the CDL and therefore it should always be a goal for a holder facing a DUI case to try to get a plea to Reckless Driving.
Another thing that makes DUI’s difficult for CDL holders is the way the MVD updates its driver’s records. If a CDL holder is arrested for DUI the police may take the holder’s driver’s license to start an administrative proceeding, as described above. The holder can then request a hearing to contest that disqualification and by operation of law the disqualification does not go into effect at least until the hearing is held. However, even though the disqualification is stayed pending the hearing, MVD practice is still to note the disqualification on the CDL holder’s driver’s record. This is less of a problem in Arizona because police officers in Arizona know how to read an Arizona MVD record to see not only the disqualification, but also the stay, however if the holder is stopped while driving outside of Arizona oftentimes the police believe the CDL is disqualified even though it has not been.
When arrested for DUI, the CDL holder should always get an experienced Arizona DUI lawyer because the consequences of a CDL disqualification is especially serious for the holder, and his or her family.
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