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Drivers who possess a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) must take additional precautions when facing criminal/traffic offenses

The complex nature of the laws governing CDL drivers and the potential consequences beyond the charges themselves calls for an experienced attorney.  For example, drivers facing a DWI/DUI charge face a suspension of their driving privilege.  When a CDL driver is charged with drunk driving, and even if the driver was not driving a commercial motor vehicle at the time, a “simple” MVA hearing comes with significant risk that the CDL will either be disqualified or suspended. Under the Code of Maryland Regulations the MVA may not issue a CDL if the driver’s license is suspended or restricted. This means that a driver with a work restriction or an ignition interlock restriction may not have a CDL. Further, a CDL driver who refuses the breath test faces a one year disqualification of the CDL.

When facing the charges in court, if the CDL driver is found guilty of driving while under the influence of alcohol under Transportation Article, Section 21-902(A), or driving while impaired by drugs, or drugs and alcohol, or by controlled dangerous substances, the MVA will impose a one year disqualification of the CDL on a first offense. Subsequent disqualifications are for life. It is important to note that a probation before judgment (PBJ) does not avoid the disqualification as it is still considered a conviction for CDL purposes. If acquittal is not a possibility or a likely outcome, it is crucial for defense counsel to try to get guilty finding to a lesser offense of driving while impaired by alcohol to avoid the CDL disqualification.

Finally, if a CDL driver finds him or herself facing suspension or revocation as a result of point accumulation (caused by a drunk driving conviction or any other offense) it is essential that counsel request a reprimand since, as discussed above, any other sanction would result in the loss of the CDL.

Further, any suspension, modification, or disqualification of one year or more may require a CDL driver to reapply for his/her CDL at the conclusion of the period of time. It is important to be aware that even for shorter CDL suspensions or modifications drivers with special endorsements on their CDL, such as HAZMAT, may also be required to reapply before obtaining a new CDL.

Some criminal charges may also have a profound impact on a CDL driver’s ability to maintain their CDL. It is essential you hire an attorney who understands the specific implications of the charges on your CDL.

If you are facing criminal or serious traffic charges in Maryland and you have a CDL call Shawn A. Gritz at 301-980-5930 for a free consultation.