CDL DUI Charges are Devastating!
In recent years the state legislation has made several changes to Washington's CDL laws in an effort to make them meet minimum requirements under federal law. What is critical to understand about these changes is that if you are stopped and arrested for a DUI even while driving you personal, non-commercial vehicle, your CDL is in jeopardy! See RCW 46.25.090.
DOL Administrative Actions Stemming from the DUI Arrest
With a DUI arrest and a breath test at or above 0.08 or a breath test refusal, the Department of Licensing will be moving administratively to suspend or revoke your underlying driver's license for at least 90 days. Without this license, you can have no CDL! If you lose this administrative hearing with DOL, you will be disqualified from holding a CDL for either 1 year (first time violation) or for your lifetime (2nd or subsequent violation)! Thus, retaining competent, experienced counsel is critical at this stage.
CDL Consequences of Criminal Convictions
In the criminal case, if you are convicted of DUI you will not only lose your license, but you will be disqualified from holding a CDL for either 1 year (1st time) or for life (2nd or subsequent).
If the DUI charge is reduced to reckless driving, you will be disqualified from holding a CDL for 60 days if there has been a prior "serious traffic violation" within the previous 3 years or for 120 days if there have been 2 or more "serious traffic violations" within the previous 3 years. (Serious traffic violations are defined in RCW 46.25.090(18) and WAC 308-100-130.)
If the DUI charge is reduced to negligent driving 1, there is no CDL disqualification. But this conviction will count as a "serious traffic violation" per WAC 308-100-130.
Deferred Prosecution Impact
If you qualify for and enter a Deferred Prosecution option, it may not save your CDL. A DP will stay any suspension of your underlying driver's license, but it will not stop the disqualification of your CDL. You must win the administrative hearing on the suspension of your underlying driver's license to not lose your CDL. But it remains unclear under the newest revisions to the law whether a DP will be treated by DOL as a conviction (thus, disqualifying you for a CDL as noted above) or if it "saves" your CDL.