A Commercial Driver is held to a higher standard than other drivers. This standard, however, can also lead to people losing their livelihood, jobs and businesses for a simple mistake. If you are charged with a violation under RCW 46.25.020, 46.25.030, 46.25.040, 46.25.050 or 46.25.110, you are facing a gross misdemeanor punishable by up to 364 days in jail, a $5000 fine and the possible loss of your commercial driver's license (CDL).
Your CDL and the Law
A person who drives a commercial vehicle may not have more than one driver's license. Under Washington law, there is not a separate license, nor is a person allowed to have more than one if they drive a rig. If, for some reason, a person is found to have more than one license, than they are facing 364 days in jail and a $5000 fine. RCW 46.25.020.
Washington requires a commercial truck driver who holds a license from this state to report to the DOL and his employer within 30 days any conviction of a state law or local ordinance related to driving from any state and any province of Canada. This includes criminal statutes and infractions but not parking violations. RCW 46.25.030(1)(a) & (1)(b). This statute also requires any driver who loses his or her privilege to drive a commercial vehicle to inform their employer of the suspension before the end of the business day following the day the driver received such notice.
Any employer of a person using their CDL for employment are forbidden from allowing their employee to continue driving a commercial vehicle if they know that person's license to drive is suspended, revoked or canceled. RCW 46.25.040.
Washington state does except a few people from having a CDL and allowing them to drive a commercial vehicle. An example is a farmer driving a commercial vehicle that he controls and operates for the purpose transporting agricultural products, including Christmas trees and wood products harvested from private tree farms. RCW 46.25.050(1)(a). Other examples include firefighters and law enforcement officers after passing the required tests or someone driving a recreational vehicle for noncommercial purposes. RCW 46.25.050(1)(b) & (1)(c). These drivers, like everyone else, must not be driving these vehicles if their license is suspended, revoked or canceled. RCW 46.25.050(2). If caught, such a driver will face up to 364 days in jail, a $5000 fine and the possible resuspension of their license.
The CDL and Alcohol
The State of Washington stridently prohibits people from consuming alcohol and driving a commercial vehicle. This is not limited to a driver operating a commercial vehicle but also a person who holds a CDL and gets charged with a DUI while driving a non-commercial vehicle. A person who holds a CDL is disqualified from driving a commercial vehicle for a year if they have been convicted of a DUI or Driving a Commercial Vehicle with a BAC of .04 and above or leaving the scene of an accident or using any motor vehicle in the commission of a felony. RCW 46.25.090(1). If a person is convicted of any of these crimes two times or more in their life than they are disqualified for LIFE from driving a commercial vehicle. RCW 46.25.090(2).
A person will also face up to 364 days in jail and a $5000 fine if they are found to be driving or to be in physical control of a commercial vehicle with ANY amount of alcohol or THC in their system. RCW 46.25.110. This means a person could be driving a commercial vehicle with a BAC of .022 in their system and not face a license suspension but still face up to a year in jail. The state could also theoretically charge a person who operates a commercial vehicle with a BAC of .09 with DUI (RCW 46.61.502) and the gross misdemeanor of Driving with Alcohol or THC in system (RCW 46.25.110).
Other CDL Disqualifications
A person's CDL can also be disqualified for crimes or infractions other than those including alcohol. A person will be disqualified from driving a commercial vehicle for 60 days if they commit a second a serious traffic violation while driving a commercial motor vehicle or if they are convicted of Reckless Driving (RCW 46.61.500) and there was a prior serious traffic violation. RCW 46.25.090(5)(a)(i).
A person's CDL will be disqualified for not less than 120 days if the driver was found or convicted of a third serious traffic violation while driving a commercial motor vehicle or convicted of Reckless Driving after there were two or more serious traffic violation. RCW 46.25.090(5)(a)(ii).
Other instances where a person will be disqualified from driving a commercial vehicle include if the driver commits the first violation for an out of service order (at least 180 days, no more than a year). Te period of disqualification increases for each violation of an out of service order. RCW 46.25.090(6).
The law firm of Powers & Costeck vigorously defends anyone charged with any crime that suspend, revoke or otherwise disqualify their CDL. Each attorney at this firm understands that it is not just a person's license on the line, but their career and livelihood. Every case is fully investigated and litigated to ensure that each client is protected and given the best opportunity to protect their CDL.