Commercial DUI/DWI and the Regulations of the FMCSA

Commercial DUI/DWI

Tougher laws are applicable to commercial drivers who are caught driving under the influence.For long, the government has recognized the importance of regulating the safety operations of trucks, buses and other commercial vehicles. Due to their very nature, the drivers of these vehicles are expected to be extra careful. The Motor Carrier Act of 1935 authorized the Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC) to establish safety standards for motor carriers. In 1940, the ICC issued the first set of these standards, which were applicable to all common, contract, and private carriers involved in interstate commerce. The regulations pertained to carrier operations, equipment, driver qualifications, and driver hours of service. Subsequently, Congress enacted several additional laws containing provisions aimed at enhancing motor carrier safety. Among other things, these provisions have pertained to drivers, vehicles, highways, motor carriers, transportation of hazardous materials, accident reporting and investigation, inspection issues, and regulatory responsibilities.

Presently, three U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) agencies share regulatory responsibility for motor carrier safety at the federal level: the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), and the Research and Special Programs Administration. The Office of Motor Carriers (previously the Bureau of Motor Carrier Safety) in the Federal Highway Administration establishes and enforces the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations -guidelines for the operations of truck drivers and motor carriers. NHTSA determines and implements safety regulations pertaining to the manufacture of motor vehicles and related equipment. The Research and Special Programs Administration sets and enforces regulations pertaining to the shipment of hazardous materials. Like the federal government, individual states have established motor carrier safety standards.

Dangers of Commercial DUI/DWI

Commercial vehicles are larger than the ordinary motor car. An accident involving a commercial vehicle can have serious consequences. It can be fatal. The last thing you would want is a drunk driver at the wheel of a commercial vehicle doing 65 mph on a highway. While the blood alcohol concentration for ordinary drivers in 0.08 percent, for commercial drivers it is 0.04 percent. There are rules that prohibit the operation of a commercial vehicle within four hours of alcohol consumption.

Detecting Commercial DUI/DWI

Commercial drivers like other drivers on the road can be stopped and checked for DUI/DWI. The trucking or bus company can also carry out checks before the driver is assigned a vehicle for duty. Many companies also subject commercial drivers to a drug test at the time of hiring.

Penalties for Commercial DUI/DWI

The penalties for commercial DUI/DWI are higher than regular DUI/DWI. If the commercial driver refuses to submit to a test for determining his or her blood alcohol concentration when stopped on the suspicion of DUI/DWI, it will be considered as a guilty plea.

A commercial driver convicted of DUI/DWI will face the same consequences as any other person convicted of DUI/DWI. However the blood alcohol concentration limit for commercial DUI/DWI is lower than the legal limit for general drivers. A conviction for commercial DUI/DWI will result in suspension of commercial driver’s license. When the license suspension is enforced, the person cannot operate a commercial vehicle. This will affect his or her livelihood.


If you have been arrested for commercial DUI/DWI you may have defenses available. Contact an experienced DUI/DWI attorney.

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