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Florida DUI Defense for Truck Drivers and CDL Holders



Understanding Florida DUI Laws for Truck Drivers and CDL Holders

Truck drivers and Commercial Driver License (CDL) holders in Florida face stringent DUI laws that can significantly impact their careers. Understanding these laws is crucial for CDL holders to navigate the legal landscape effectively.

Florida DUI Regulations for CDL Holders

Florida law imposes stricter blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limits for CDL holders. While the general BAC limit is 0.08%, CDL holders are subject to a lower limit of 0.04% when operating a commercial vehicle. Violating this limit can lead to severe penalties, including the disqualification of the CDL.

Additionally, CDL holders must comply with both the regular implied consent warning and a special implied consent warning specific to commercial drivers. Failure to adhere to these regulations can result in administrative and criminal penalties.

What is the implied consent warning? The implied consent warning is a legal requirement that informs drivers of the consequences of refusing to submit to a breath, blood, or urine test when suspected of DUI.

After a DUI arrest in a commercial vehicle or a personal vehicle (if the driver is a CDL holder), the arresting officer will read:

  • The regular implied consent warning that applies to all drivers.
  • A special implied consent warning for any Commercial Driver License (CDL) holder.

The rules are complicated, and officers in the field often make mistakes when it comes to advising a commercial driver or CDL driver about these special rules. Because a DUI in a commercial vehicle or involving a CDL holder is less common, the arresting officer might forget to read both implied consent warnings or make other fatal mistakes.

Just like for a non-CDL holder, after the DUI arrest and notice of suspension and disqualification, you only have ten (10) days to request a formal hearing to contest both the suspension of your driver’s license and the disqualification of your CDL.

When a CDL holder is accused of DUI, they need an experienced attorney who can fight:

  • The administrative suspension of the driving privileges at the DHSMV.
  • The administrative disqualification of the CDL at the DHSMV.
  • The criminal case in the courtroom.

In addition to the implied consent warning required to administratively suspend the driver’s license, the arresting officer must also read a special implied consent warning that applies only to a driver holding a Commercial Driver License (CDL).

That warning provides:

  • Failure to submit to such a breath or urine test or both will result in the suspension of your privileges to operate a commercial motor vehicle for a period of one year for a first refusal, or in the case of a second refusal, your privileges to operate a commercial motor vehicle will be disqualified permanently.
  • A refusal to submit to a chemical breath or urine test upon request of a law enforcement officer as provided in this section shall be admissible into evidence in any criminal proceeding.

Officers in the field often make mistakes when dealing with the CDL holder or the driver of a commercial motor vehicle during a DUI investigation. These errors can be critical in building a defense case.

Notice of Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) Disqualification in Florida

You will receive a notice of commercial driver’s license privilege disqualification under Florida Statute 322.64. The Commercial Vehicle Citation for a BAC of .04 or above is typically hand-written on the form for HSMV 78005.

The notice is issued under one of the following circumstances:

  • Refusal to Submit to Testing: CDL holder or commercial motor vehicle operator did refuse to submit to a breath, blood, or urine test authorized in Section 322.63 or 316.1932, F.S. Effective this date, your commercial driving privilege is disqualified for one year for the first offense or permanently if you have been previously disqualified under Section 322.64 F.S.
  • Driving with an Unlawful Blood / Breath Alcohol Level (DUBAL): CDL holder or commercial motor vehicle operator driving with unlawful blood or breath alcohol level of .08 or higher. Effective this date, your commercial driving privilege is disqualified for one year for the first offense or permanently if you have been previously disqualified under Section 322.64 F.S.

The notice will also indicate whether the driver’s license was surrendered and whether the driver is eligible for a permit. Unless the driver is otherwise ineligible, the notice shall serve as a temporary driver’s license and will expire at midnight on the 10th day following the date of this notice. This permit does not, however, authorize the operation of a commercial motor vehicle.

The notice also provides that the driver can demand a review of disqualification by the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles within 10 days of the date of this notice.

What is a Commercial Driver License (CDL) disqualification? A CDL disqualification is a temporary or permanent removal of a commercial driver’s privilege to operate a commercial motor vehicle due to violations such as DUI.

The notice is identified as form number HSMV 78005 (Rev. 07/2009). One copy is provided to the DHSMV Hearing Officer. The other copies are provided to the driver and the officer’s agency.

Notice Issued for CDL or Any Person DUI in a CMV

Under Section 322.64, F.S., these notices are to be issued only to a driver who:

  • Operates or is in actual physical control of a commercial motor vehicle who refuse to submit to a breath, blood, or urine test authorized in s. 322.63, F.S., and NO citation is issued for a violation of s. 316.193, F.S. This notice may be issued together with a citation for a violation of s. 322.62, F.S.
  • Holds a commercial driver license, and operates or is in actual physical control of a non-commercial motor vehicle with an unlawful breath or blood alcohol level of .08 or higher, and are issued a citation for a violation of s. 316.193, F.S.

The notice also requires the officer to provide a description of facts supporting the officer’s belief that the driver was operating or in actual physical control of a CMV with any alcohol, chemical substance, or controlled substance in his/her body, including any citation issued to the driver.

For more information on how DUI charges can affect your driving privileges, you can visit our page on DUI Licensing Issues.

Common Mistakes by Officers During DUI Arrests of CDL Holders

Florida DUI Defense for Truck Drivers and CDL Holders

Law enforcement officers often make mistakes when arresting CDL holders for DUI. These errors can be leveraged as defenses in court to challenge the charges.

One common mistake is the failure to provide both the regular and special implied consent warnings. The special warning informs the CDL holder that refusal to submit to a breath or urine test will result in disqualification of their commercial driving privileges. If this warning is not given, the evidence obtained may be inadmissible in court.

Other procedural errors, such as improper administration of field sobriety tests or inaccuracies in the officer’s report, can also be used to challenge the validity of the DUI arrest.

Improper Administration of Field Sobriety Tests

Field sobriety tests (FSTs) are often used by officers to determine impairment. However, these tests must be administered correctly to be valid. Common errors include:

  • Incorrect Instructions: Officers may fail to provide clear instructions, leading to improper performance by the driver.
  • Unreliable Conditions: Conducting tests on uneven surfaces or in poor lighting can affect the results.
  • Bias and Subjectivity: The officer’s personal judgment can influence the interpretation of the test results.

Such mistakes can be pivotal in challenging the DUI charges.

Inaccuracies in the Officer’s Report

Errors in the officer’s report can significantly impact the case. These inaccuracies might include:

  • Incorrect BAC Levels: Misreporting the blood alcohol concentration (BAC) levels can lead to wrongful charges.
  • Faulty Observations: Inaccurate descriptions of the driver’s behavior and appearance can be contested.
  • Omission of Key Details: Failure to document crucial information, such as the special implied consent warning, can weaken the prosecution’s case.

Scrutinizing the officer’s report for such errors is essential for a robust defense.

Failure to Follow Proper Protocols

Officers must adhere to strict protocols during a DUI arrest. Deviations from these protocols can be grounds for challenging the charges. Examples include:

  • Not Reading the Special Implied Consent Warning: As mentioned earlier, this is a critical step that officers often overlook.
  • Improper Handling of Evidence: Mishandling or mislabeling evidence, such as breathalyzer results, can compromise the case.
  • Violating the Driver’s Rights: Any infringement on the driver’s rights, such as unlawful search and seizure, can be contested.

Ensuring that all protocols are followed is crucial in upholding the integrity of the legal process.

Misinterpretation of Medical Conditions

Medical conditions can sometimes mimic signs of impairment. Officers may mistake symptoms of medical issues for intoxication, leading to wrongful DUI charges. Common conditions include:

  • Diabetes: Hypoglycemia can cause slurred speech and unsteady movements.
  • Neurological Disorders: Conditions like multiple sclerosis can affect coordination and balance.
  • Fatigue: Extreme tiredness can produce symptoms similar to alcohol impairment.

An experienced DUI attorney can highlight these medical conditions to challenge the officer’s observations.

Challenging the Validity of Chemical Tests

Chemical tests, such as breathalyzers, are not infallible. Several factors can affect their accuracy:

  • Improper Calibration: Breathalyzers must be regularly calibrated to ensure accurate readings.
  • Environmental Factors: External conditions, such as temperature and humidity, can influence test results.
  • Operator Error: Mistakes made by the person administering the test can lead to incorrect readings.

Challenging the validity of these tests is a key strategy in defending against DUI charges.

For CDL holders, understanding these common mistakes and procedural errors is crucial. By leveraging these errors, an experienced DUI attorney can build a strong defense to protect your driving privileges and career. If you are facing DUI charges, it is essential to seek legal representation immediately to navigate the complexities of Florida’s DUI laws effectively.

Learn more about how to beat your DUI case by understanding the common mistakes made during DUI arrests and the importance of a strong defense strategy.

Administrative and Criminal Penalties for CDL Holders

CDL holders face both administrative and criminal penalties for DUI offenses. Understanding these penalties is essential for mounting an effective defense.

Administrative Disqualification of CDL

Upon a DUI arrest, the CDL holder’s commercial driving privileges can be administratively disqualified. This disqualification can occur even if the DUI offense was committed in a personal vehicle. The disqualification periods vary, with a first offense resulting in a one-year disqualification and subsequent offenses leading to permanent disqualification.

CDL holders have the right to request a formal review hearing within ten days of the arrest to contest the administrative disqualification. An experienced DUI attorney can assist in preparing for this hearing and presenting a strong defense.

Criminal Penalties for DUI

In addition to administrative penalties, CDL holders also face criminal penalties for DUI offenses. These penalties can include fines, jail time, probation, and mandatory DUI school. The severity of the penalties depends on several factors, such as the driver’s BAC level, prior DUI convictions, and whether any aggravating circumstances were present.

For example, a CDL holder with a BAC of 0.08% or higher may face harsher penalties compared to a driver with a lower BAC. Additionally, if the DUI offense resulted in property damage, injury, or death, the penalties can be significantly more severe.

Impact on Employment

A DUI conviction can have a devastating impact on a CDL holder’s employment. Many employers have strict policies regarding DUI offenses, and a conviction can lead to immediate termination. Furthermore, finding new employment as a CDL holder with a DUI conviction can be challenging, as many companies are reluctant to hire drivers with a history of DUI offenses.

To mitigate the impact on employment, it is crucial to work with a skilled DUI attorney who can explore all possible defenses and work towards minimizing the penalties.

Additional Consequences

Beyond the immediate penalties, DUI convictions can have long-term consequences for CDL holders. These may include:

  • Increased Insurance Rates: A DUI conviction can lead to significantly higher insurance premiums, making it more expensive to maintain coverage.
  • Loss of Professional Licenses: Certain professions, such as nursing or teaching, may require a clean driving record, and a DUI conviction can jeopardize professional licenses.
  • Travel Restrictions: Some countries have strict entry requirements for individuals with DUI convictions, which can limit travel opportunities.

Understanding these additional consequences is vital for CDL holders to make informed decisions about their defense strategy.

Requesting a Formal Review Hearing

To contest the administrative disqualification of a CDL, it is essential to request a formal review hearing within ten days of the arrest. During this hearing, the defense can challenge the validity of the traffic stop, the accuracy of the BAC test, and any procedural errors made by the arresting officer.

In the criminal case, the defense can argue that the officer’s observations were inconsistent with the evidence or that the field sobriety tests were improperly administered. Additionally, medical conditions or other factors that could have affected the BAC test results can be presented as part of the defense.

By employing these legal strategies, a skilled DUI attorney can work to protect the CDL holder’s driving privileges and minimize the impact of the DUI charges on their career.

What is the special implied consent warning for CDL holders? The special implied consent warning informs CDL holders that refusal to submit to a breath or urine test will result in the suspension of their commercial driving privileges for one year for a first refusal, or permanent disqualification for a second refusal.

For more information on defending against DUI charges, visit our guide on DUI defenses.


Defending a CDL holder against DUI charges requires a comprehensive legal strategy that addresses both the administrative and criminal aspects of the case. With the stakes being so high, it’s essential to employ multiple defense tactics to protect your livelihood and future.

Florida DUI Defense for Truck Drivers and CDL Holders

Demanding a Formal Review Hearing

One of the first steps in defending a CDL holder is to request a formal review hearing to contest the administrative disqualification. During this hearing, the defense can challenge the validity of the traffic stop, the accuracy of the BAC test, and any procedural errors made by the arresting officer.

In the criminal case, the defense can argue that the officer’s observations were inconsistent with the evidence or that the field sobriety tests were improperly administered. Additionally, medical conditions or other factors that could have affected the BAC test results can be presented as part of the defense.

By employing these legal strategies, a skilled DUI attorney can work to protect the CDL holder’s driving privileges and minimize the impact of the DUI charges on their career.

Challenging the Legality of the Traffic Stop

One of the most effective defenses in a DUI case is challenging the legality of the traffic stop. If the initial stop was not based on reasonable suspicion or probable cause, any evidence gathered during the stop may be inadmissible in court. This can significantly weaken the prosecution’s case.

For CDL holders, this defense is particularly crucial because an unlawful stop can lead to the dismissal of both the administrative and criminal charges. An experienced DUI attorney will scrutinize the circumstances of the traffic stop to identify any violations of your rights.

Questioning the Accuracy of Chemical Tests

Breathalyzers and other chemical tests are not infallible. Factors such as improper calibration, maintenance issues, and operator error can lead to inaccurate results. An experienced DUI attorney can scrutinize these aspects to challenge the validity of the test results.

For CDL holders, questioning the accuracy of chemical tests is critical because even a slight discrepancy can mean the difference between maintaining and losing your commercial driving privileges.

Scrutinizing the Officer’s Observations and Procedures

The observations and procedures followed by the arresting officer are critical components of a DUI case. Any deviations from standard protocols or inconsistencies in the officer’s report can be used to cast doubt on the prosecution’s case.

For example, if the officer failed to provide both the regular and special implied consent warnings, the evidence obtained may be inadmissible in court. This is particularly important for CDL holders, as the special implied consent warning informs them that refusal to submit to a breath or urine test will result in the suspension of their commercial driving privileges.

What is the special implied consent warning for CDL holders? The special implied consent warning informs CDL holders that refusal to submit to a breath or urine test will result in the suspension of their commercial driving privileges for one year for a first refusal, or permanent disqualification for a second refusal.

Presenting Medical and Environmental Factors

Medical conditions and environmental factors can sometimes mimic the signs of intoxication. Conditions such as diabetes, neurological disorders, or even fatigue can affect a driver’s performance and BAC test results. Similarly, environmental factors like poor lighting or uneven surfaces can impact field sobriety tests.

By presenting evidence of these factors, a skilled DUI attorney can create reasonable doubt about the accuracy of the officer’s observations and the validity of the test results. This can be particularly effective in defending CDL holders, as any doubt can help protect their driving privileges and career.

Negotiating Plea Bargains and Alternative Sentences

In some cases, negotiating a plea bargain or alternative sentence may be the best strategy for a CDL holder facing DUI charges. This can involve reducing the charges to a lesser offense, such as reckless driving, or negotiating for alternative sentencing options like community service or probation.

While a plea bargain may still result in some penalties, it can help minimize the impact on your commercial driving privileges and career. An experienced DUI attorney can negotiate on your behalf to achieve the best possible outcome.

Understanding the Impact on Employment and Licensing

A DUI conviction can have a significant impact on a CDL holder’s employment and professional licenses. Many employers have strict policies regarding DUI offenses, and a conviction can lead to immediate termination. Furthermore, finding new employment as a CDL holder with a DUI conviction can be challenging, as many companies are reluctant to hire drivers with a history of DUI offenses.

To mitigate the impact on employment, it is crucial to work with a skilled DUI attorney who can explore all possible defenses and work towards minimizing the penalties. Additionally, understanding the specific impact of a DUI on professional licenses can help you make informed decisions about your defense strategy.

Requesting a Formal Review Hearing

To contest the administrative disqualification of a CDL, it is essential to request a formal review hearing within ten days of the arrest. During this hearing, the defense can challenge the validity of the traffic stop, the accuracy of the BAC test, and any procedural errors made by the arresting officer.

In the criminal case, the defense can argue that the officer’s observations were inconsistent with the evidence or that the field sobriety tests were improperly administered. Additionally, medical conditions or other factors that could have affected the BAC test results can be presented as part of the defense.

By employing these legal strategies, a skilled DUI attorney can work to protect the CDL holder’s driving privileges and minimize the impact of the DUI charges on their career.

For more information on defending against DUI charges, visit our guide on DUI defenses.

Understanding these strategies and working with an experienced DUI attorney can make a significant difference in the outcome of your case. If you are a CDL holder facing DUI charges, don’t hesitate to seek legal assistance to protect your rights and your career.


Infographic depicting the words Florida DUI Defense for Truck Drivers and CDL Holders


What happens if a CDL holder gets a DUI in Florida?

If a CDL holder gets a DUI in Florida, they face severe penalties. These include administrative disqualification of their commercial driving privileges, which can last for one year for a first offense and permanent disqualification for subsequent offenses. Additionally, CDL holders are subject to stricter BAC limits and must adhere to both regular and special implied consent warnings.

Can a CDL holder drive a personal vehicle after a DUI arrest?

Yes, a CDL holder can drive a personal vehicle after a DUI arrest, but their commercial driving privileges will be disqualified. The notice of disqualification will serve as a temporary driver’s license for personal vehicles, expiring at midnight on the 10th day following the notice date. However, they must contest the disqualification within ten days to preserve their right to drive commercially.

How can a CDL holder contest a DUI disqualification in Florida?

A CDL holder can contest a DUI disqualification in Florida by requesting a formal review hearing within ten days of the arrest. During this hearing, they can challenge the validity of the traffic stop, the accuracy of the BAC test, and any procedural errors made by the arresting officer. An experienced DUI attorney can help prepare for this hearing and present a strong defense.

What is the special implied consent warning for CDL holders?

The special implied consent warning for CDL holders informs them that refusal to submit to a breath or urine test will result in the suspension of their commercial driving privileges for one year for a first refusal, or permanent disqualification for a second refusal. This warning must be provided in addition to the regular implied consent warning.







Florida DUI Defense for Truck Drivers and CDL Holders

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Florida DUI Defense for Truck Drivers and CDL Holders

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Experienced Florida DUI Attorney

Legally reviewed by Joe Easton and the content team, this article reflects the firm’s 60 years of combined criminal defense expertise. Joe Easton, with his extensive experience and strategic prowess in DUI and criminal defense, offers more than just legal representation; he brings a commitment to turning legal challenges into triumphs. His approach, combining tenacity in the courtroom with personalized client care, ensures your DUI case is not just defended but championed with dedication and expertise.

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