DUI with CDL

The penalties of a DUI charge or conviction are greater for commercial driver's license (CDL) holders than for regular drivers. This is because DUI is taken more seriously for those operating large vehicles such as tractor trailers, buses, etc. The penalties could alter your livelihood. Learn more on this page.


Many people use commercial driver’s licenses (CDLs) in order to work in Connecticut. CDLs are necessary if you want to operate commercial vehicles, which include tractor trailers, commercial trucks, buses, taxis, and more. Many depend on their CDLs for their livelihood. So, how would getting a DUI in Connecticut impact your CDL and ultimately, your ability to work?

Well, a CDL is considered a privilege in Connecticut. Those driving commercial vehicles are held to a higher standard than the average driver on the road. This is because these vehicles are difficult to operate and oftentimes contain precious or hazardous material (think a school bus driving children to school, or a truck carrying hazardous material). Improper use of a commercial truck can result in serious injury to those in the vehicle as well as other drivers or people on the roads. As such, the state takes a DUI very seriously if the driver has a commercial driver’s license. They do not want the driver to be distracted or under the influence because of the importance of their job.

DUI and CDL Penalties

This means that DUIs can have much harsher and more long term affects if you have a commercial driver’s license rather than if you are a regular driver. As I’ve mentioned, CDL holders are held to a higher standard on the roads. For a regular driver, a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08% or higher will result in a DUI charge. However, for CDL holders, the legal BAC limit is .04% while they are operating a commercial vehicle.

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If convicted of DUI, a CDL license is automatically suspended for a year. In addition, if the DUI is received while driving hazardous materials, the license is automatically suspended for three years. This occurs when:

  • The driver refuses to take a BAC test.
  • The driver fails a BAC test.
  • The driver is convicted of DUI.

After the license suspension is served, a commercial driver’s license can be reinstated. However, any subsequent DUI or refusal of BAC would result in disqualification for life, which could be challenged after 10 years. This challenge would require that the person show voluntary involvement in treatment of an addiction program. Good cause, if shown to the Commissioner, has the authority to reinstate the CDL license in this case. 

Getting Help

Getting a CDL requires a person to go through a long process and costs time, and money, and is typically done for employment purposes. Therefore, getting a DUI and losing your license could also mean losing your job and being forced to find another way to support yourself and your family. Because the stakes are so high, it is a good idea to contact a DUI defense lawyer for help. At our office, we have helped CDL holders fight their DUI charges. Contact our office for more information.

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