Earlier this month, a bus traveling to the Masters golf tournament in Augusta flipped over, injuring many of the passengers on board. The 61-year-old driver was arrested and charged with driving under the influence. Police confirmed that the driver was under the influence of drugs at the time of the bus crash. Since the driver was operating a commercial vehicle, the consequences of his DUI can be severe.
Commercial DUI in Georgia
Georgia law prohibits any driver from operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. A driver will be considered “under the influence” if:
- His or her blood alcohol concentration (BAC) exceeds the legal limit, or
- Consuming alcohol or drugs has made it “less safe” for them to drive.
For most drivers, the legal BAC limit is .08 percent. However, if you have a commercial driver's license (CDL), you are subject to more stringent regulations. Commercial drivers can be charged with DUI in Georgia if their BAC exceeds .04 percent. This applies whether or not the driver was actually operating a commercial vehicle at the time of the violation.
Commercial DUI & Drugs
Commercial drivers can also be charged with DUI if, after consuming drugs, it is less safe for them to drive. For the purposes of DUI, it is irrelevant whether the driver consumed illegal drugs or prescription drugs. When does consuming drugs make it “less safe” for a CDL driver to operate a vehicle? While consuming any quantity of drugs before getting behind the wheel can be dangerous, drivers must typically demonstrate some behavior that demonstrates they cannot navigate their vehicle as safely as a sober person could under similar circumstances. The officer making the traffic stop or responding to a call will assess a driver's behavior and any relevant details to determine if drug or alcohol consumption is a factor. Police may have reasonable cause to suspect DUI if a driver:
- Has difficulty concentrating or communicating
- Demonstrates slurred speech
- Was involved in an accident
- Failed chemical testing
- Failed roadside field sobriety tests, or
- Failed to maintain his or her lane.
Penalty for Commercial DUI in Georgia
Getting a DUI when you have a CDL in Georgia will have more severe consequences than if you simply had a traditional license. Commercial drivers are tasked with navigating some of the largest and heaviest vehicles on the roads and are often responsible for the safety of many passengers. When CDL drivers make the decision to impair their senses before getting behind the wheel, the threat of danger is significant. The penalties for CDL DUI in Georgia act as a deterrent to this behavior and also help to keep dangerous CDL drivers off of the road.
A DUI is considered a “major” violation under Georgia law. A CDL driver's first “major” violation will result in a one-year suspension of his or her CDL license. Subsequent CDL DUI violations will trigger the permanent revocation of commercial driving privileges.
- 24 hours to 12 months in jail
- Up to $1,000 in fines
- 40 hours of community service
- Probation, and/or
- DUI Alcohol or Drug Risk Reduction Programs.
The penalties for DUI can be more severe if an accident is fatal or causes injuries.
Get Help Fighting a Georgia DUI
Have you been arrested for driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol in Georgia? Are you facing more serious charges because you have a commercial driver's license? Call a Georgia DUI attorney for help defending yourself against any charges the state may decide to pursue. Hiring an attorney to handle your case will help you secure the best possible outcome in your case. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation and learn more.