Illinois DUI Laws Hold Commercial Drivers to a Higher Standard

Illinois laws follow federal guidelines to hold men and women who own a commercial driver's license (CDL) to a higher standard in terms of driving habits.

Illinois Lawmakers and law enforcement officials want to send a clear message that if driving recklessly or consuming too much alcohol and driving are dangerous, it is even more dangerous for those who drive commercial vehicles. To emphasize this, state lawmakers set the legal level for blood alcohol content (BAC) for CDL holders at .04 percent - half the amount that applies to non-CDL holders - while they are operating a commercial vehicle.

Major Violations

A CDL holder who is convicted of driving under the influence (DUI) of drugs or alcohol, or who refuses to submit to a breath test faces a one-year disqualification from driving a commercial vehicle. This is true whether the CDL holder is driving for work or for personal reasons. (If the CDL holder is driving his or her own vehicle, the Illinois BAC limit for all drivers of .08 percent applies.)

A second DUI or DUI-related conviction, whether on the job or not, results in a lifetime revocation of a CDL license. An offender may be able to get his or her CDL reinstated after 10 years by completing a state-approved alcohol education program.

Under Illinois law, you risk having a CDL temporarily or permanently taken away for committing "major offenses" that do not involve alcohol - even if you are operating a non-commercial vehicle. These include:

  • Leaving the scene of an accident
  • Using a commercial motor vehicle to commit a felony
  • Causing a death due to negligent operation of a commercial vehicle
  • Operating a commercial vehicle without a valid CDL

Serious Violations

Illinois categorizes the following as "serious traffic violations." Get two of these in three years and your CDL may be disqualified for 60 days. Three such violations in three years may result in disqualification for 120 days:

  • Excessive speeding or reckless driving
  • Improper lane changes
  • Following vehicles too closely
  • Causing a fatal accident by violating any motor vehicle traffic control law
  • Operating a CMV without a CDL, without a CDL on your person, or without the proper CDL endorsements

The Bottom Line

Clearly, even a single traffic violation can disrupt a CDL holder's career. It is critical to enlist the help of a lawyer who has proven capable of helping those who drive for a living defend against a DUI or other traffic violation and hold on to their CDL and their job. I have more than 15 years of legal experience and thorough knowledge of how to defend against a DUI arrest or other Illinois traffic violations. Don't let an arrest ruin your career.

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