The Effect of a DUI on your CDL in North and South Carolina

Whether driving in North or South Carolina, commercial drivers face stiff penalties if they are discovered driving while impaired. Commercial drivers often make their livelihood behind the wheel, so any time that they cannot drive means a loss of income. Since commercial drivers often spend their time driving large vehicles that are much more dangerous than ordinary passenger vehicles, they are more tightly regulated when it comes to driving under the influence. Although the law differs across the Carolina's, the law mandates serious penalties for commercial drivers.

In North and South Carolina, a person who is driving a commercial vehicle may not have a blood alcohol content of .04 or more. In addition, in North Carolina, there is a punishment for any blood alcohol content above .00, called "operating a commercial motor vehicle after consuming alcohol." Further, even if there is no blood alcohol content in the driver's system, then if there is an open or closed container of alcohol in the passenger compartment of the vehicle, the person can be charged with having an open container. Note here, however, that there can be an alcoholic beverage in the passenger compartment or in a passenger's possession in an excursion passenger vehicle, a for-hire passenger vehicle, a common carrier of passengers, or a motor home. This is to prevent a commercial driver for being punished for a passenger's possession of alcohol.

In South Carolina, a person who holds a commercial driver's license and who blows a .04 in any vehicle, loses their license for a year. If the driver is driving a commercial vehicle that is carrying hazardous waste, the person can lose his or her license for 3 years.

The inability to drive for any length of time can ruin the finances of almost any commercial driver. While an impaired driving charge can cause problems for any driver, it is undoubtedly the commercial driver who has the most to lose.

If you have been charged with DWI while driving a commercial vehicle, you need a lawyer who is familiar with the DWI laws in your state. Contact several attorneys to determine which one you feel most comfortable with. Many attorneys will be willing to provide a free consultation about your case. Having a lawyer familiar with DWI laws can make a difference in your case. After you hire the attorney, he or she will be able to help you determine what options you have, and advise you on the best option in his or her opinion. However, the decision is ultimately up to you. A common issue to be decided is whether a case should be tried or pled. Only a lawyer who is familiar with the facts of your case can give you advice about your specific situation.

If you choose to plead the case, the attorney will negotiate with the Assistant District Attorney on your behalf. The type of deal that you can get is based on the negotiating skills of your attorney, individual facts of your case, District Attorney's office policies, and the Assistant District Attorney that is being negotiated with. All of these factors come together to determine what type of deal your attorney may be able to get for you.

If you choose to try your case, you can face two types of trial: jury trials and bench (judge) trials. In North Carolina, when your case is first heard for trial, you will receive a bench trial in District Court. A judge will hear your case from beginning to end, and will make all factual and legal determinations about your case. If you lose in the District Level, then you may appeal to the Superior Court. In Superior Court you will have a jury trial, and nothing from the previous trial carries any weight in the current trial. In South Carolina, the process is quite a bit different. Rather than having a two-tiered system, a charged person can get a jury trial from the beginning.

There are further distinctions between North and South Carolina law. South Carolina has a statute that requires video of every step of the DWI investigation process, from the blue lights pulling the driver over, to the Standardized Field Sobriety Tests, to the breathalyzer room. Any failure of the officer to follow procedure will result in a suppression of the evidence, and perhaps a dismissal of the case. On the other hand, in North Carolina, video is not required, and other means may have to be used to fight the case. Ultimately, how your case should be handled is up to you and the lawyer you decide to work with.

While the above information is important to all drivers, it is especially important to those who have a commercial driver's license, and who drive for a living. The loss of a CDL to such a person for any length of time can ruin his or her financial stability.

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