Commercial drivers play a crucial role in our economy, shipping valuable goods from coast to coast. Driving while intoxicated is even more dangerous for commercial truckers, as commercial truckers drive large, heavy vehicles. North Carolina prosecutors take commercial DWI charges seriously. North Carolina has a nearly zero-tolerance policy for drinking in the cab of a semi-truck.
Contact a Commercial DWI Lawyer Today
If you have been charged with a commercial DWI in North Carolina, your personal freedom and career could be in jeopardy. The sooner you discuss your case with an experienced lawyer, the better you can protect yourself and your rights. Contact Hancock Law Firm, PLLC as quickly as possible to schedule an initial consultation with one of our skilled criminal defense lawyers today.
Commercial DWI Charges in North Carolina
In North Carolina, driving a commercial vehicle while impaired by alcohol or drugs is a separate crime from driving a noncommercial vehicle while impaired. The threshold for proving a commercial DWI is lower for commercial drivers than non-commercial drivers. A commercial DWI also has different legal consequences.
The driver of a non-commercial vehicle can be convicted of a DWI with a blood-alcohol content (BAC) of .08 percent or greater. The standard is lower for drivers of commercial vehicles who can be convicted of a DWI for driving with a BAC of .04 percent or higher. A defendant can be convicted of a commercial DWI when:
- the driver operates a commercial motor vehicle on any highway, street, or public vehicular area in North Carolina
- while under the influence of an impairing substance, or
- with a blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) of .04 percent or higher, or
- with any amount of a schedule 1 controlled substance or its metabolites in his blood or urine
Prosecutors do not have to prove that a driver had a blood alcohol concentration of over .04 percent to secure a conviction. In North Carolina, operating a commercial vehicle with any amount of alcohol in one system is a Class 1 misdemeanor. As a result, if a driver has any detectable alcohol levels in his or her system, even if it’s .005 percent, the driver can be convicted. The driver will be placed “out of service” for 24 hours. If convicted, the driver will have a 10-day disqualification from driving a commercial vehicle and must pay a fine of $100.
Should the driver be convicted of another DWI within seven years of the first DWI, he or she will face a one-year prohibition on driving a commercial vehicle. The driver’s commercial driver’s license will also have an increase in the number of points on his or her driving record. The court can also increase the fines to double the fines for a commercial driver’s license holder.
What Constitutes a Commercial Vehicle?
Prosecutors must prove that the driver was operating a commercial vehicle to obtain a conviction for a commercial DWI. Under North Carolina law, a commercial vehicle is defined as:
- A Class A motor vehicle with a combined GVWR of at least 26,001 pounds that include as part of the combination a towed unit that has a GVWR of at least 10,001 pounds
- A Class B motor vehicle, or
- A Class C motor vehicle designed to transport 16 or more people, or that is transporting hazardous materials and is required to be placarded
The Penalties for a DWI in North Carolina
The penalties for a commercial DWI in North Carolina may include losing your primary source of income. You could lose your commercial driver’s license for an extended period, making it difficult, if not impossible, to drive. You may also be facing jail time and significant fines. The sooner you discuss your case with a criminal defense lawyer, the better. The penalties for a commercial DWI will increase if the driver is transporting hazardous materials.
The Effect of a DWI on Your Commercial Drivers License
What happens if a driver receives a DWI conviction while driving a non-commercial vehicle? If a driver is convicted of a first-time DWI, they will face up to a year suspension of their Class C commercial driver’s license after being convicted. They will have the option to obtain Limited Driving Privilege (LDP) if they are over 21 at the time of the offense. If a driver is convicted of a DWI and has a commercial driver’s license, he or she will face a year of disqualification of the commercial driver’s license.
If the defendant has a commercial driver’s license and is convicted of a DWI, the driver can’t pursue a Limited Driving Privilege license. As a result, the driver convicted of a DWI will be prohibited from a Class A driver’s license for one year. However, commercial drivers license holders can still get a Limited Driving Privilege for Class C purposes.
Suspension of a Commercial Drivers License
Drivers can face a permanent suspension of their commercial driver’s license if they are convicted of a DWI and have a prior conviction for one or more of the following:
- Hit and run
- Driving with a license revoked
The process for a civil revocation before a criminal trial could result in the driver being disqualified from holding a commercial driver’s license for a year. Additionally, the driver could face an additional one-year disqualification of a commercial driver’s license based on the criminal DWI conviction.
Consult With a North Carolina DWI Lawyer
If you carry a commercial driver’s license in North Carolina and you’ve been charged with a DWI, you need an experienced lawyer on your side. The skilled criminal defense lawyers at Hancock Law Firm, PLLC will carefully investigate your case and develop a robust legal defense on your behalf. We will advocate strongly on your behalf while protecting your legal rights. Contact our criminal defense lawyer today to schedule your free initial consultation.