Almost everyone knows that a DUI can be devastating to any driver, resulting in license suspensions, fines and possible jail time. Yet, for Commercial Driver’s License holders the penalties can be even more harsh. This article is meant to outline the consequences of DUIs for CDL drivers in Ohio. For more detailed and up to date information please refer to the most recent version of the Ohio Revised Code – ORC.

First off, the term used for operating a vehicle intoxicated in Ohio is no longer the familiar term DUI (Driving Under the Influence). The correct term, and more importantly, the term used by the Ohio courts is OVI, or Operating a Vehicle Intoxicated.

The blood alcohol concentration required for a CDL-OVI when driving a commercial vehicle is lower than that which is required for a regular OVI. A regular OVI requires a .08% blood alcohol breath test, yet a CDL-OVI when driving a commercial vehicle only requires a .04% blood alcohol breath test. The blood and urine tests for CDL holders are also roughly half the level required for regular OVI’s. See ORC 4506.15(A) and ORC 4511.19.

Additionally, a CDL holder driving any vehicle under the influence of any controlled substance is a CDL-OVI. This applies to commercial vehicles as well as to private vehicles. See ORC 4506.15(A)(5).

CDL suspensions for OVI’s are especially harsh. There is a mandatory one year CDL disqualification for a first OVI, regardless of whether the operator was in a commercial or private vehicle. No driving privileges may be granted for any CDL suspension. See ORC 4506.16(D)(1) and 4506.161.

If a CDL holder is in a commercial vehicle, then a first refusal results in an automatic one year CDL suspension. A “refusal” refers to any driver who refuses to submit to either a breath, urine or blood test when a law enforcement official has reasonable cause to believe that the driver may be under the influence. Thus, even if the CDL driver is not actually under the influence, if he refuses the test in a commercial vehicle, his CDL could be suspended for one year. See ORC 4506.16(D)(1).

And last but not least, the Ohio Revised Code requires a lifetime CDL suspension for a second OVI conviction or for a second refusal in a commercial vehicle. See ORC 4506.16(D)(2).

If you or anyone you know have questions about an OVI or a CDL or both, feel free to call our firm to discuss the matter with an attorney.

Posted by: Joseph Spring, Mark E. Godbey & Associates, (513) 241-6650