The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) prohibits motorists operating a vehicle on behalf of their employers from driving while intoxicated (DWI). The federal government views any commercial driver’s license (CDL) holder’s blood alcohol content (BAC) of .04% or higher as indicative of intoxication. Texas law also recognizes federal BAC limits for CDL drivers.
Your mere arrest on suspicion of DWI charges can impact your lifestyle and career. Even so, there’s a presumption of innocence until you’re proven guilty in a court of law. The penalties you may face if convicted of a DWI while operating a vehicle on your CDL license are even more serious than they are for other drivers, so learning more about your situation is a step toward building your defense.
When do FMCSA rules apply?
Any of the following individuals must abide by FMCSA rules, including abstaining from consuming alcohol for at least hours before getting behind the wheel of their vehicle and maintaining a BAC of less than .04%:
- Motorists working in an official capacity for a local, state or federal government agency
- Private and for-hire motor carriers
- Anyone operating a vehicle registered to a place of worship or community organization
- Commercial carrier lessees, owner-operators or employees
This federal law also requires employers to conduct random drug testing as a condition of their employment and immediately after an accident.
What happens if you’re convicted of a DWI?
Texas Penal Code § 49.04, et seq. spells out how a first-time DWI is a Class B misdemeanor charge. A conviction for this offense carries with it up to $2,000 in fines and up to a 180-day jail term. The court may order up a year suspension of your driver’s license and impose a penalty of up to a $2,000 annual fee.
FMCA regulations also require you to notify your employer of any conviction within 30-days. They also prohibit them from employing you for the duration of your license suspension.
You probably have many questions about how your case will unfold as you await trial in your case. Please review our DWI FAQs page for some answers to common questions defendants ask or talk to an attorney directly about your concerns.