Commercial drivers with CDLs hurt by new Maryland DUI law

The new interlock bill passed by the legislature, and coming to a court near you on October 1, 2024 will hurt many commercial drivers who find themselves facing DUI charges for what they did in their personal vehicles.  A commercial driver’s license (CDL) is an addition to a regular driver’s license and is required to drive commercial vehicles (basically the big 18 wheelers, limos, and buses).

A commercial driver with a CDL faces a one year disqualification of the CDL if convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol or if found to have refused a breath test.  For many of these drivers a disqualification can be devastating as most of them will lose their jobs.  The legislature had previously passed an exemption if the driver was found guilty of driving while impaired under Transportation Article, § 21-902(b) as opposed to driving under the influence under § 21-902(a) it would not result in a disqualification.  Probations before judgment (PBJs) are considered convictions under the CDL laws so that doesn’t help.

There was a problem on the administrative side though, for CDL drivers that didn’t refuse, and blew .15 or more, the choice is either a six month suspension or one year on an ignition interlock.  However, if the CDL defendant blew .08 or more but under .15, while facing a 6 month suspension, 6 month on interlock or 6 month work permit.  All of these choices would result in a lost job because any restriction other than alcohol or glasses/contacts, is incompatible with a CDL.  However,  those CDL drivers that blew .08 or more but under .15, could conceivably get a reprimand from an administrative law judge (ALJ) at the MVA hearing, basically a warning that would go on their driving record but with no real consequence.  However, even if convicted under § 21-902(b) and facing a possible suspension at the MVA, the ALJ still had discretion to impose only a reprimand.

So to protect a client’s job, lawyers could try to get the client blowing under .15 a finding under § 21-902(b) in court and a reprimand at the MVA.

The new legislation in many cases will eliminate the benefit of getting a reprimand at the MVA hearing, unless the client is acquitted or the charges dropped in court, because if the client is found guilty of either § 21-902(a) or § 21-902(b), interlock is now required. 

As we mentioned above, any restriction like interlock voids the CDL part of the driver’s license.  So all of these CDL drivers that were previously able to save their jobs will no longer be able to do so.

Call 301-345-0122 for a free consultation on your DUI charges.

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