Texas DUI Lawyers Explain DWI and Commercial Drivers


Texas DUI Lawyers Explain DWI and Commercial Drivers

Being charged with a DWI while driving a commercial truck in Texas with a CDL invokes two processes from which to defend your CDL: the criminal process and the administrative process[2]. Both processes are independent of the other. This article, written by Texas DUI lawyers, explains what commercial drivers need to know about DWI charges in Texas.

Criminal Process & Your Texas CDL

The criminal process refers to the actual DWI charge itself. The legal limit for commercial drivers in Texas is 0.04% BAC, compared to 0.08% BAC for non-commercial drivers[2]. If you are arrested for DWI while operating a commercial vehicle with a BAC over 0.04%, you will face criminal charges just like any other DWI defendant. However, the stakes are much higher for commercial drivers.

A DWI conviction, even a first offense, can result in a CDL suspension for 1 year in Texas[3]. Subsequent convictions lead to even harsher penalties: a second DWI conviction results in a lifetime CDL disqualification, meaning you can never legally operate a commercial vehicle again[5].

That’s why it’s critical to fight the criminal DWI charge with an experienced DWI defense attorney. An attorney may be able to get your DWI charges reduced or dismissed, which avoids a conviction on your record and the resulting CDL suspension[3]. Possible strategies include:

  • Challenging the legality of the traffic stop
  • Contesting the validity of field sobriety tests
  • Disputing breath or blood test results
  • Negotiating a plea deal to lesser charges

If you do end up with a DWI conviction, your defense attorney can argue for alternative sentencing that avoids a CDL suspension, like probation or reduced jail time[3]. Don’t leave your livelihood to chance – hire a qualified DWI lawyer to defend your rights.

Administrative Process & Your CDL

In addition to criminal penalties, commercial drivers also face administrative license suspension through the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS)[2]. This is a civil process that runs parallel to the criminal case.

After a DWI arrest, DPS will start proceedings to suspend your CDL privileges. You have 15 days to request a hearing to contest the suspension[3]. At the hearing, DPS must prove:

  • There was reasonable suspicion for the traffic stop/probable cause for the arrest
  • You were driving or in control of a vehicle while intoxicated

If DPS meets this burden, your CDL will be suspended for 1 year on a first offense DWI, or lifetime disqualification for a second offense[5].

An experienced DWI lawyer can represent you at the hearing to argue against the suspension. Potential defenses include challenging the legality of the stop, disputing signs of intoxication, or arguing flaws in chemical testing. If the hearing is successful, you avoid an administrative license suspension even if convicted of DWI criminally[3].

Avoiding DWI Convictions

The best way to avoid the most significant criminal penalties and administrative license suspensions is to avoid a DWI conviction altogether. An acquittal at trial is the gold standard, but more commonly a skilled DWI lawyer can get charges reduced or dismissed through plea negotiations[3]. For example, a wet reckless conviction avoids the devastating impact of a DWI conviction on your CDL.

If your DWI does end in a conviction, your attorney may still be able to negotiate alternative sentencing that keeps your CDL active. This is a long shot, but still possible in some cases. Experienced DWI lawyers know how to creatively defend commercial driver’s licenses.

Don’t gamble with your CDL and your livelihood. Contact a qualified DWI defense attorney as soon as possible after an arrest. An attorney may be able to get breath or blood samples independently tested or secure witness statements while memories are fresh. Early intervention by a lawyer with expertise in commercial DWI cases gives you the best chance of a positive outcome.

Other Consequences of a Texas Commercial DWI

In addition to CDL suspension, a commercial DWI conviction carries many other costly consequences including:

  • Up to 1 year in jail on a first offense DWI
  • Fines up to $2,000 for first offense
  • Rate increases or loss of commercial auto insurance
  • Difficulty finding employment as a commercial driver
  • Company termination
  • Damage to your professional reputation
  • Possible civil lawsuits if an accident occurred

These effects can be financially and emotionally devastating. An experienced DWI lawyer will advise you of all the possible consequences so you can make fully informed decisions when fighting the charges.

Finding the Right DWI Lawyer

Driving commercial vehicles for a living, your CDL is vital to your livelihood. You need an aggressive lawyer who understands the stakes and will fight tirelessly to defend your rights and privileges.

Look for a lawyer with extensive experience defending commercial DWI cases specifically. They will understand the complexities and heightened penalties involved. Don’t leave your career in the hands of just any DUI lawyer – find one with a proven track record with CDL cases.

Time is of the essence, so consult with an attorney as soon as possible after your arrest. The sooner you start building your defense, the better. Your future could depend on it.

In summary:

  • A commercial DWI invokes criminal charges and administrative CDL suspension
  • Criminal conviction leads to CDL suspension, even on a first offense
  • An attorney can help avoid suspension by fighting the charges
  • Act quickly to start building your defense
  • Consult a DWI lawyer experienced with commercial driver cases

Don’t let a DWI jeopardize your career. With an experienced lawyer guiding you, you can move past this hurdle and get back on the road.


[1] https://www.kevinbennettlaw.com/dwi-dui/commercial-dwi/
[2] https://www.dougmurphylaw.com/what-you-need-to-know-if-you-have-a-cdl-and-get-a-texas-dwi
[3] https://www.texasdwilawfirm.com/faqs/will-a-dwi-affect-my-commercial-drivers-license/
[4] https://www.brentbowen.com/duidwi/commercial/
[5] https://www.thetexastrialattorney.com/blog/dwi-with-cdl-texas/
[6] https://dwicollincounty.com/dwi-charges/commercial-dwi/