OVI and the CDL Holder

Although any OVI allegation is serious, the consequences are particular harsh for the CDL holder. For instance, a commercial driver must immediately surrender his CDL after testing over the legal limit on a chemical test or refusing a chemical test . Failing to immediately surrender the license is a first degree misdemeanor under RC 4506.17(D), (H) and (N).

If the driver has a detectable level of alcohol in his system that is less than .04 percent alcohol, then the driver is to be placed immediately out of service for 24 hours. RC 4506.17(C). If the commercial driver either refuses to submit to chemical testing or fails the test, then the penalty for a first offense is a one-year suspension of his commercial driver's license.

A second offense means that the person is disqualified for life. This life time disqualification took effect on January 27, 2012, as part of 2012 Sub. H.B. 337. Even an out of state incident triggers a similar disqualification of the out of state offense is for a similar offense. See RC 4506.16(A).

The court can also impose other criminal penalties for a first degree misdemeanor because RC 4506.99 provides that any offense in section RC 4506.03 to RC 4506.20 that does not include a penalty is a first degree misdemeanor. RC 450 6.16

Under RC 4506.17, upon the refusal to submit to alcohol or controlled substance testing, or if the test results exceed the prohibited level, a peace officer must immediately seize the person's license and forward it, along with a sworn report, to the registrar of motor vehicles. Upon receipt of the sworn report, the registrar will disqualify the commercial driver named in the report for the period specified in RC 4506.16.


OVI Attorney for the CDL Holder in Cincinnati, Ohio

Any charge for OVI is serious in Ohio, but when a person with a CDL license is charged with OVI, the consequences can be career ending. The attorneys at Joslyn Law Firm represent the holders of a commercial driver's license charged with OVI and other serious traffic offenses. We can help you with the ALS hearing and appeal as we fight for the best result in the criminal case at the courthouse.

Call (513) 399-6289 today to discuss your case with our experienced OVI Defense Attorneys in Cincinnati, Ohio.


Disqualification from Operating a Commercial Motor Vehicle

As of January 27, 2012, an Administrative License Suspension (ALS) imposed under ORC 4511.191 for refusing a chemical test under the Implied Consent law will cause the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV) to disqualify a person from operating a commercial motor vehicle. See ORC 4506.16(D)(1) and (2).

Therefore, it is extremely important that an ALS appeal be filed within 30 days of the arraignment. Unless the ALS for a refusal is vacated on appeal, the commercial driver will be disqualified from operating a commercial motor vehicle even if the person is found "not guilty" of the OVI. That means, even if the person's OVI charge is dismissed upon amendment to a reduced charge or the person is acquitted after a trial, the disqualification will remain.

The length of a first ALS requires a one year disqualification. For a second ALS, it requires a disqualification “for life or for any other period of time as determined by the United States secretary of transportation and designed by the director of public safety by rule.”


Lower BAC Legal Limit for CDL Holders Operating a Commercial Vehicle in Ohio

The CDL holder who is driving a commercial vehicle is subject to a lower blood alcohol limit then other drivers. The BAC for a commercial driver is .04 or half of the .08 legal limit. Even if you were not operating a commercial vehicle at the time of the OVI, you can still receive the one year ALS.

The commercial license can be terminated or suspended for many different types of violations under Ohio law including:

  • BAC of .04 or more - one year suspension under 4506.15(A)2;
  • Under the influence of a controlled substance - one year suspension under 4506.15(A)5;
  • Using the commercial vehicle in the commission of a felony - one year suspension  4506.15(A)6;
  • Refusing to submit to a blood, breath or urine test - one year suspension 4506.15(A)7

If the driver is convicted of these offense while operating a vehicle placarded for hazardous materials, then the disqualification increases to three years under 4506.16(B)6 of the ORC.


Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) Suspensions

Under subsection (A)(4) of R.C. §4510.13, the court is prohibited from issuing driving privileges to operate a commercial motor vehicle (CMV) when the offender is under suspension for an OVI, refusal, or positive test. The court is also prohibited from granting privileges to drive a commercial motor vehicle in the course of employment. R.C. §4506.161 provides:

“No court shall issue an order granting limited driving privileges for operation of a commercial motor vehicle to any person whose driver’s license or commercial driver’s license has been suspended or who has been disqualified from operating a commercial motor vehicle.”

Under division (C)(2) of R.C. §4510.13, a suspension of a person’s commercial driver’s license must run concurrent with the period of suspension or disqualification imposed by R.C. §4506.16.

Disqualifications are imposed by the BMV in accordance with federal laws and regulations, and as such, the length of disqualification cannot be reduced, suspended, or modified.

It is important to remember that when the CDL holder is granting driving privileges the court may grant privileges for "employment purposes," but it is prohibited from granting privileges to operate a commercial motor vehicle. In order to avoid any confusion, the BMV suggests using the following language in journal entries that grant privileges to a CDL holder or offender who was operating a CMV that requires a CDL at the time of the offense:

"The applicant may operate a non-commercial vehicle for purposes of driving to, from, and during work. . . . the applicant may not operate a vehicle requiring a commercial driver’s license.”


Suspensions of the CDL for a Second Conviction

For a second OVI conviction, the length of the CDL suspension can last for life or as follows:

  • BAC of .04% or more under 4506.15(A)2 for life;
  • Under influence of controlled substance under 4506.15(A)5 for life;
  • Leaving the scene of a traffic crash under 4506.15(D) for life;
  • Using the commercial vehicle in the commission of a felony under 4506.15(E) for life;
  • Refusing to submit to a blood, breath or urine test under 4506.15(F) for life;
  • First time commission of a felony with a controlled substance under 4506.16(B)4 for life;
  • First Violation of Out of Service under 4506.15(A)7 for 90 days;
  • Second Violation of Out of Service under 4506.16(A)2 for one year; or
  • Third Violation of Out of Service under 4506.16(A)3 for 3 years.

Finding an OVI Attorney for the CDL Holder

The Cincinnati OVI defense attorneys at Joslyn Law Firm understand that your career depends on maintaining your CDL license. Our experienced criminal defense attorneys represent all types of commercial drivers including truck drivers or individuals who work for a moving, construction, or utility company. We are experienced with the tactics used by local law enforcement agencies in Hamilton County including the Cincinnati Police Department and the Hamilton County OVI Task Force.

The attorneys at Joslyn Law Firm understand the unique challenges that the CDL holder faces after an accusation of OVI in Ohio. Whether your case involves a failed breath test or a refusal to submit to chemical testing, call us at (513) 399-6289 to discuss your case.


This article was last updated on Monday, November 16, 2015.

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