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“The Joslyn Law Firm is highly experienced and nationally recognized for their Criminal and DUI Defense. Brian Joslyn is an Award-Winning Criminal and DUI Defense attorney who, along with his team, has handled hundreds of cases and has helped their clients obtain the best results possible.”

OVI and Commercial Drivers

It’s always a serious matter if you’re facing OVI charges in the state of Ohio. However, the OVI consequences for commercial driver license holders may not only affect your freedom but also your livelihood. Facing OVI charges, failing an OVI test, or refusing to take an OVI chemical test could result in immediate suspension or even disqualification of your commercial license. These consequences would be in addition to the standard OVI penalties non-CDL drivers face as well.

If you or someone you know has been charged with OVI as a commercial driver, then we highly encourage you to seek legal representation. An experienced Cincinnati OVI defense attorney will understand what it takes to fight OVI charges related to CDL. They can comb through the facts of the case and develop a detailed defense plan to undermine the prosecution’s argument. Get started on your defense today by gaining legal representation with Joslyn Law Firm.

DUI Lawyers for CDL Drivers in Cincinnati, OH

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 appeal and hearing as we fight for the best result in the criminal case at the courthouse.

Call us today at (513) 399-6289 to set up your first consultation absolutely free. At the consultation, our attorneys will sit with you, hear your case, and unveil all your legal options. Joslyn Law Firm accepts clients throughout the greater Cincinnati metropolitan area and Hamilton County including Harrison, Forest Park, Blue Ash, Springdale, Mount Healthy, Cleves, Norwood, and Montgomery.

CDL OVI Information Center:

If You Get a DUI Do You Lose Your CDL in Ohio?

Commercial driver license holders could face suspension or disqualification if they find themselves pulled over on suspicion of drinking and driving. The state of Ohio’s Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV) has implanted these harsh consequences to deter their drivers from even attempting to drink and drive. This is evident as the legal limit for CDL drivers is much lower at .04 BAC rather than the standard .08 BAC.

Refusing an alcohol or drug chemical OVI test will result in an automatic disqualification for up to one year. If you complied with testing and failed, then your license will also be automatically disqualified. Listed below are the disqualification periods for failing a OVI chemical test as a commercial driver’s license holder.

  • Any detectible amount of alcohol – 24 Hours out of Service
  • .04 Breathalyzer Test – One Year
  • .048 Blood Test – One Year
  • .056 Urine Test – One Year

You might think that your career won’t be affected if you’re convicted of OVI outside of work. Unfortunately, that isn’t the case. If you’re convicted of OVI in any motor vehicle at all, you will have your CDL disqualified for up to one year. This disqualification also applies if you were convicted of being under the influence of a controlled substance in any motor vehicle.

What Is the Legal Limit for CDL Drivers in Ohio?

The CDL holder who is driving a commercial vehicle is subject to a lower blood alcohol limit than 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 any of these offenses 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.”

How Do I Get My CDL Back After DUI?

All CDL disqualifications are managed by Ohio’s Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV) outside of any criminal court proceedings. The BMV gives all commercial drivers a chance to appeal their CDL disqualification by filing a request for a hearing within 30 days of receiving the disqualification notice. If you are granted a hearing, your disqualification period will be stayed pending the overall outcome. Similar to a criminal proceeding, you will be allowed to bring an experienced CDL Ohio OVI defense attorney to represent you during the hearing.

If the hearing is unsuccessful, then you will have to do the following to reinstate your license:

  • Wait out the duration of your suspension/disqualification
  • Complete any court ordered sentencing conditions such as jail time or paying fines
  • Finish any substance and alcohol abuse courses
  • Participate and finish a remedial driving course
  • Retake the commercial driver’s license test
  • Pay any reinstatement fees, which is about $475

It’s important to remember that if this is your second DUI-related disqualification, then you will never be able to reinstate your driving privileges. The reason for this is that any CDL driver with a second OVI-related violation will have their license disqualified for life.

Can I Get a CDL License with an OVI in Ohio?

Essentially, yes you can apply and receive a commercial driver’s license even after you’ve faced charged or were convicted of driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. However, it’s important to know that the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles will have access to your criminal record. If they spot past OVI conviction or charge on your record, it’s almost guaranteed they will ask you some follow-up questions and consider that information when looking at your commercial driver’s license application.

It’s important to remember the BMV reserves the right to reject any CDL applicant that crosses their path. Having a prior OVI conviction on your record could be what stops you from fulfilling your career goals. That is why it’s highly encouraged you gain legal representation and fight your OVI charges immediately right there and then. Reducing or dismissing your charges early will give you a better chance down the road if you want to obtain a CDL license.

Can I Get MY CDL Back After 2 DUIs?

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.


Additional Resources

CDL Disqualifications | Ohio BMV – Visit the official website for Ohio’s Bureau of Motor Vehicles to learn more about CDL violations and their suspension/disqualification terms. Access the site to learn major alcohol/drug violations, traffic violations, crossing violations, and the appeals process for a CDL disqualification.

Ohio CDL DUI Laws – Visit the official website for the Ohio Revised Code (ORC) to learn more about their laws pertaining to operating a vehicle while under the influence (OVI). Access the site to read the elements of the crime, penalties for committing OVI, and other related offenses.

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 to discuss your case.


  • Brian Joslyn was named Best Lawyer in 2019 by Birdeye.
  • Columbus CEO magazine has yearly selections for the best attorneys in Columbus Ohio. Brian Joslyn has been identified as one of the most highly skilled attorneys across central Ohio.
  • Brian Joslyn has earned recognition for community leadership by Lawyer LegionLawyer Legion
  • Preeminent Attorney Award. Peer rated for highest level of professional excellence.
  • The Better Business Bureau (BBB), founded in 1912, is a private, nonprofit organization whose self-described mission is to focus on advancing marketplace trust.

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