I received an OVI charge over the weekend, but my job is driving a commercial vehicle. How long before I can go back to work?
That depends. First, were you driving the commercial vehicle or a non-commercial vehicle? If it was a non-commercial vehicle and you submitted to the requested chemical test (typically a breathalyzer), your license will be suspended administratively for ninety days. If you refused the chemical test, your license will be suspended administratively for one year. It’s important to note that as a CDL holder, you will have additional charges for refusing a test and your CDL may be disqualified for life if you refuse the test a second time.
An administrative suspension (ALS), as mentioned above, is a suspension by the BMV, not the court. Driving privileges for a commercial vehicle cannot be granted while under an administrative suspension. It is, however, possible to appeal the administrative license suspension and possibly have the CDL reinstated. Any appeal must be filed within thirty days of arraignment.
This administrative suspension is typically prior to any guilty plea or conviction. If there is a conviction for OVI while driving a non-commercial vehicle, there will be a one-year disqualification of the CDL for a first-time offense. A second offense will result in a lifetime disqualification.
The blood alcohol content (BAC) required for a conviction of OVI while driving a commercial vehicle is lower than that required for driving a non-commercial vehicle. Rather than a BAC of .08, a BAC of only .04 will result in a conviction if you are were driving a commercial vehicle. If there is a charge and you are driving a commercial vehicle, you will be immediately removed from service for twenty-four hours. There will still be an administrative suspension upon being charged and a one-year CDL disqualification if you are convicted of the OVI. These consequences are for first offenses. If you are convicted of a second offense, the suspension is for life.
Essentially, if you are charged and then subsequently convicted of an OVI, you will most likely not be able to return to commercial driving for at least a year. And that is only if it is your first offense If it’s a second offense, driving a commercial vehicle is no longer an option. Even if the ALS appeal is granted, the court cannot grant driving privileges on a commercial license during the time of the disqualification. Additionally, if the court also suspends your license, driving privileges will only apply to non-commercial vehicles, not commercial vehicles. Any work privileges the court grants will only be for driving to and from work in a non-commercial vehicle.
If you find that your CDL has been suspended or disqualified, at the end of the suspension or disqualifying period you may be able to reinstate your CDL license. This will require paying fees to the BMV and the agency may require anyone applying for reinstatement to retake the written and road tests prior to issuing the reinstatement.