North Carolina Commercial Vehicle DUI Charges

There is no state in the United States where drivers are permitted to take to the road with a blood alcohol level (BAC) of 0.08% or above. Some states, like Maryland, will even punish you if police officers believe you were driving after only one drink. There’s a difference, however, between accusations addressing a private vehicle and those addressing a commercial one.

If law enforcement accuses you of operating a commercial vehicle while intoxicated, the consequences you face may be devastating. You risk losing your job, losing your license, and facing monumental fines. Instead of challenging these charges on your own, let King Law’s commercial vehicle DUI attorneys in North Carolina stand up for you in court.

North Carolina Has Stricter BAC Limits for Commercial Drivers

Today, all of North Carolina’s legislation regarding drivers who operate under the influence of alcohol or drugs on the road can be found in North Carolina’s Safe Roads Act of 1983. This act states that any driver over the age of 21 who has a BAC of over 0.08% can be charged with a DUI when operating a personal vehicle.

Similarly, drivers under the age of 21 who are found with any trace of alcohol in their blood can also face DUI charges. Drivers with previous DUI convictions on their record must have a BAC below 0.04% to legally operate a vehicle on the road.

How, though, does this ruling change when the driver in question is operating a commercial vehicle? Because commercial vehicles are viewed as the property of a business, North Carolina’s legislation comes down harder on those vehicles’ drivers. Specifically, any commercial driver with a BAC above 0.04% can be charged with a DUI if found on the road.

Distinguishing Between North Carolina’s DWI and DUI Charges

You may have heard the acronyms “DWI” and “DUI” used interchangeably in conversations about alcohol use on North Carolina’s roads. A DWI describes accusations of driving while intoxicated, whereas a DUI describes accusations of driving under the influence.

Prior to the debut of the North Carolina Safe Roads Act of 1983, the state could level either charge against an offending driver. A DWI addressed drivers operating with any percentage of alcohol in their blood, while a DUI addressed drivers with a BAC of 0.08%, or other applicable levels, depending on age group and criminal record.

However, after the North Carolina Safe Roads Act of 1983 came into play, the distinction between these two charges dissolved. The two are now one and the same in the eyes of North Carolina law enforcement, even in cases involving commercial vehicles.

The Consequences for Commercial Drivers Accused of Driving Under the Influence

The severity of the DUI charges brought against you varies depending on your criminal history and any extenuating circumstances impacting your arrest. More specifically:

  • The first time you’re convicted of driving under the influence, the state may revoke your license for up to one year and charge you with fines between $200 and $4,000. The maximum jail sentence for a first-time offense is two years.
  • The second time you’re convicted of driving under the influence, the state may revoke your license for up to four years. Your minimum fine increases to $2,000. Jail time does not increase from the first offense.
  • A third DUI conviction can see you face fines of up to $10,000 and the permanent revocation of your license. Your jail sentence cannot be less than a year in length but caps at three years.
  • Upon a fourth DUI conviction, North Carolina may permanently revoke your license and deny you the opportunity to regain limited driving permissions for ten years following your volition. Your jail sentence caps at 59 months. A fourth conviction will appear as a felony on your criminal record.

Note that if you are accused of operating a commercial vehicle while intoxicated, the state may revoke any specialized licenses you have. You also risk losing your job, particularly if your alleged misconduct endangered pedestrians, clients, and/or other motorists. You can discuss the specific consequences of a commercial DUI with an NC commercial vehicle DUI attorney.

How to Challenge Accusations of Commercial Vehicle DUIs

You have the right to plead “not guilty” to DUI charges involving a commercial vehicle. Specifically, you can argue against the charges brought against you with the help of a commercial vehicle DUI attorney. Our team can assess the nature of your arrest, debate whether or not it was lawful, and bring the data law enforcement allegedly found of your guilt into question.

Specifically, our team can question whether or not the prosecution in your case met their burden of proof. If the prosecution cannot indicate beyond a reasonable doubt that you operated a commercial vehicle while intoxicated, the charges brought against you may be invalid.

Questioning the Validity of the Tests Used to Establish Your BAC

When addressing commercial vehicle DUI charges, our team can specifically challenge the validity of the tests that law enforcement used to determine your BAC. Breathalyzers can prove inaccurate and even be contaminated when taken in for testing. Similarly, field tests can prove subjective.

Our team can also argue that the police officers who initially pulled you over had no reasonable motivation to do so. If this is the case, then any test used to establish your BAC may be found invalid in the eyes of the court.

Our North Carolina Commercial Vehicle DUI Attorneys Challenge Your DUI Charges

DUI charges are designed to discourage North Carolina residents from behaving badly on the road. That said, there are dozens of ways that your behavior on the road can be misrepresented by police officers looking to make their monthly ticketing quota. If you’re accused of operating a commercial vehicle while intoxicated, let King Law know immediately.

Our team can challenge the tests used to determine your BAC as well as the nature of the vehicle you were allegedly driving. If you’re ready to consult with our North Carolina criminal defense lawyers, you can call our office at (888) 748-5464 or (888) 748-KING. You can alternatively schedule an appointment with our team via our contact form.