Our New Hampshire DWI lawyers apply their experience and skill to defend
every DWI case before them.
Some of our cases, however, have a far reaching impact on our client’s
professional and personal obligations. These concerns are particularly
acute where a Commercial Driver License (CDL) holder also stands charge
with Driving While Intoxicated. There are enhanced penalties and additional
administrative concerns when a CDL holder is charged with impaired driving
in either a commercial vehicle or a non-commercial vehicle. The expectation
for CDL holders is simply higher, the penalties more serious and the impact,
in turn, on employment issues far greater. Our NH DWI attorneys make it
their business to advise clients on the unique issues facing CDL holders
when charged with driving under the influence and to craft a strategy
to account for these concerns.
CDL Holders and the Reduced Standard for Alcohol Concentration
CDL holders and non-CDL holders alike face the same basic court-imposed
penalties following a DWI conviction. However, there is a reduced alcohol
concentration for CDL holders while operating a commercial vehicle. Typically,
the prima facie standard to establish impairment is an alcohol concentration
of 0.08 or greater. CDL holders driving commercial vehicles have a much
lower standard —an alcohol concentration of 0.04 or more may result
in a DWI conviction for impaired operation of a commercial vehicle.
Administrative Concerns for CDL Holders in Impaired Driving Cases
Additional administrative penalties issued through the Department of Safety
also face CDL holders, often resulting in long-term disqualification of
commercial driving privileges. Aside from the standard court imposed penalties
for a DWI conviction itself, a conviction for impaired driving in a commercial
vehicle carries a one year disqualification to operate a commercial vehicle.
Any DWI conviction—even one occurring in a non-commercial vehicle—also
disqualifies a person from driving a commercial motor vehicle for a period
of one year. This penalty turns an average DWI charge into a life changing
event for a CDL holder. Our DWI attorneys understand that loss of CDL
privilege for a year may also mean the loss of a job, and we blend that
knowledge into the negotiation of cases and appreciate that consequences
so severe often require the aggressive trial of such cases.
Convictions of subsequent DWI charges have a devastating impact on maintenance
of a Commercial Driver’s License. A second DWI conviction of any
type results in a lifetime disqualification for driving a commercial vehicle.
Consequences so grave require an aggressive defense strategy, one which
addresses administrative concerns as well as courtroom results.
Commercial driving disqualifications may also occur even where there is
no actual DWI conviction. For instance, a decision to refuse a law enforcement
request for a breath or blood test, even if no conviction follows, results
in a one year loss of commercial driving privileges. In our experience,
the Department of Safety interprets the CDL statute in an aggressive manner.
It treats two refusals, even without a court conviction, as an event calling
for a lifetime CDL disqualification of commercial driving privileges.
Where a CDL holder agrees to take a test which results in an alcohol concentration
of greater than a 0.04 and less than a 0.08, he or she will also be disqualified
from commercial driving for one year. A prepared lawyer in such circumstances
understands that the most harmful impact of a case may have nothing to
do with an actual courtroom conviction. Our lawyers appear week in and
week out at the Hearings Bureau at Department of Safety, they understand
the process, appreciate the risks and incorporate those concerns into
the overall case strategy.
Other CDL Concerns
Separate from DWI cases, multiple motor vehicle driving violations may
also result in disqualification of commercial driving privileges. Two
serious traffic violations in a three year period while driving a commercial
vehicle results in a 60-day commercial driving disqualification. Three
such convictions in a three-year period results in a 120-day disqualification.
This concern exists even when driving a non-commercial vehicle. Even in
a non-commercial vehicle, two convictions for serious motor vehicle offenses
in a three-year period where the conviction also results in suspension
of a driving privilege, will also result in a 60-day disqualification
of commercial driving privileges. Three convictions to serious motor vehicle
offenses in a three year period in a non-commercial vehicle where conviction
also results in suspension of driving privileges will call for a 120-day
suspension of commercial driving privileges.
Contacting a DWI Defense Attorney in NH
In these situations, it is critically important to understand the definition
of a “serious traffic violation.” Serious traffic violations
include speeding in excess of 15 miles per hour above the speed limit,
reckless driving, certain violations arising out of car accidents as well
as a myriad of other seemingly minor offenses which are considered far
more serious for CDL holders. This can make the defense of a simple speeding
ticket critically important to a CDL holder.
New Hampshire DWI attorneys know full well that CDL holders operate on thin ice and risk job loss
for any commercial driving disqualification. They bear these concerns
in mind when confronting any case, advising our clients and preparing
our cases for trial.