Many Florida drivers hold both a standard non-commercial (Class E) driver's license and a Commercial Driver's License (CDL). If you operate a commercial vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.04% or higher, you will be in violation of the law and face a DUI charge. This is a stricter limit than the 0.08% BAC limit for drivers of non-commercial vehicles.

What Is a Commercial DUI? 

According to Florida Statute 322.62, it’s illegal for commercial drivers to have any alcohol in their system while operating a commercial vehicle. This means even a small amount is against the law. If you’re caught, you’ll get a traffic ticket and face fines. You’ll also be taken off the road for 24 hours. If your blood alcohol level is 0.04% or higher, you’ll face harsher penalties, including possible license suspension and jail time. Even if you’re charged under this specific law, you could still face separate DUI charges if your alcohol or drug use is severe enough to impair your driving.

What Is a Commercial Vehicle? 

According to Florida Statute 207.002, a commercial motor vehicle is any vehicle not owned or operated by a government entity that uses diesel fuel or motor fuel on public highways. The vehicle must meet one of the following criteria: a gross vehicle weight exceeding 26,000 pounds, three or more axles, or a combined weight exceeding 26,000 pounds when used in combination with other vehicles.

Additionally, Florida Statute 322.01 defines a “commercial motor vehicle” as any motor vehicle or motor vehicle combination used on streets or highways that meets one or more of the following criteria:

  • It has a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of 26,001 pounds or more. 
  • It is designed to transport more than 15 persons, including the driver. 
  • It is transporting hazardous materials and is required to be placarded in accordance with 49 C.F.R. part 172, subpart F.

A vehicle that occasionally transports personal property to and from a closed-course motorsport facility is not considered a commercial motor vehicle if the use is not for profit and corporate sponsorship is not involved.

What Are the Consequences of Getting a DUI While Operating a Commercial Vehicle? 

A DUI in a commercial vehicle in Florida carries severe repercussions, affecting both your driving privileges and your career.

License Suspension and Disqualification

1st Offense: If convicted, your commercial driver’s license (CDL) will be disqualified for at least one year. If you were transporting hazardous materials, the disqualification increases to three years.

2nd Offense: A second DUI leads to a lifetime CDL disqualification, although reinstatement may be possible after ten years under specific circumstances.

Fines and Penalties

Fines: Fines for a first offense range from $500 to $1,000, increasing to $1,000 – $2,000 with a BAC of 0.15% or higher or a minor in the vehicle. 

Jail Time: Potential jail sentences range from six months to five years, depending on the number of prior convictions and aggravating factors. 

Additional Penalties: Additional Penalties can include mandatory community service, probation, DUI school, substance abuse treatment, and vehicle impoundment.

Impact on Employment and Insurance

Career Impact: Due to strict industry standards, a DUI conviction can significantly hinder your ability to find or maintain employment as a commercial driver.

Insurance Premiums: Expect a substantial increase in insurance rates or even difficulty obtaining coverage altogether.

I Got a DUI While Operating a Commercial Vehicle What’s Next? 

In Florida, commercial drivers are held to a higher standard than non-commercial drivers when it comes to DUI enforcement. This includes stricter rules regarding sobriety tests.

Florida Statute Florida Statute 322.64 specifically addresses additional penalties on commercial drivers for DUI, including disqualification from operating a commercial motor vehicle.

According to the statute, if you are arrested for DUI while driving a commercial vehicle (or any vehicle if you hold a commercial license) or if you refuse an alcohol test, you will lose your commercial driving privileges. The police officer will give you a 10-day permit to drive your own car and a notice explaining the suspension and your options to fight it.

You have ten days to ask the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles to review the suspension. This can be done in two ways: an informal review, where they simply look at the evidence, or a formal hearing, where you and the officer can present your sides of the story.

** Find the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles Division of Driver Licenses’ Application for Formal/Informal Review of Driver License Suspension/Disqualification here. **

The suspension starts immediately, and you cannot delay it by asking for a review. However, if you need to drive for work, you might be able to get a special license that allows you to drive your own car, but not a commercial vehicle.

The review will focus on whether the officer had a good reason to arrest you and whether you were actually driving under the influence or refused the test. The suspension is a separate issue from any criminal charges you might face for the DUI, and a criminal conviction won’t change the suspension.

You can appeal the department’s decision in court if you disagree with it, but this won’t stop the suspension from taking effect. Also, keep in mind that this suspension is separate from any other action taken against your regular driver’s license.

Will My Regular License Be Suspended If I Get a Commercial DUI?

If you are convicted of a DUI while driving a commercial vehicle in Florida, the State will suspend both your commercial driver’s license (CDL) and your regular driver’s license.

Under Florida Statute 322.2615, your regular driver’s license will also be suspended. The suspension period will depend on whether it’s your first DUI offense or a subsequent one:

First Offense: 6-month suspension

Second Offense: 1-year suspension

You may also face other penalties like fines, mandatory DUI school, and installing an ignition interlock device (IID).

If you hold a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) and are convicted of a DUI, both your CDL and your regular driver’s license will be impacted, even if you were not driving a commercial vehicle at the time of the offense.

Impact on CDL and Regular License 

Florida Statutes Section 322.61: This statute outlines the disqualification of commercial drivers for certain offenses. It states that a CDL holder is disqualified from operating a commercial motor vehicle if convicted of a DUI, regardless of whether the offense occurred in a commercial or non-commercial vehicle.

First Offense: Results in a one-year disqualification of the CDL.

Second Offense: Results in a lifetime disqualification, with the possibility of reinstatement after ten years under certain conditions.

Can I Refuse Sobriety Tests as a Commercial Driver?

As a commercial driver in Florida, you have specific rights and obligations regarding sobriety tests, and it is essential to understand these to make informed decisions during traffic stops.

Field Sobriety Tests (FSTs)

In Florida, you are not legally required to submit to field sobriety tests (FSTs). These tests, such as the walk-and-turn, one-leg stand, and horizontal gaze nystagmus tests, are used by officers to establish probable cause for a DUI arrest but are not mandatory.

While you can refuse FSTs without immediate legal penalties, your refusal may increase the officer’s suspicion and lead to further testing or arrest.

Can I Refuse a Breath/Blood/Urine Test?

In Florida, you can refuse a breath, blood, or urine test when stopped for suspicion of DUI; however, there are significant legal consequences for doing so, as stipulated by the state’s implied consent law.


Implied Consent Law

Under Florida Statute § 316.1932, any person who accepts the privilege of operating a motor vehicle within the state is deemed to have given their consent to submit to an approved chemical or physical test, including breath, blood, or urine tests, to determine the presence of alcohol or controlled substances if lawfully arrested for DUI. However, the statute also explains the consequences of your potential refusal. You must decide whether you want to submit to the test or bear the consequences.


Consequences of Refusal


First Refusal:


If you refuse to submit to a breath, blood, or urine test, your driver’s license will be suspended for one year.


Second or Subsequent Refusal:


If you have previously refused to submit to such tests and refuse again, your driver’s license will be suspended for 18 months. Additionally, a second or subsequent refusal constitutes a first-degree misdemeanor, which can result in further legal penalties, including fines and potential jail time.


Consequences for Commercial Drivers

While you can refuse field sobriety tests in Florida, doing so might lead to an arrest based on other observations. However, refusing chemical tests after a lawful arrest results in immediate and severe administrative penalties. For commercial drivers, the stakes are higher, with stringent penalties affecting your CDL. Always consider seeking legal advice to understand your rights fully and the implications of your decisions during a DUI stop.

Florida Statute 322.64 states that if a commercial driver refuses to submit to a breath, blood, or urine test when lawfully requested by a law enforcement officer, they will be immediately disqualified from operating commercial motor vehicles.

The disqualification is for a period specified in federal regulations (49 C.F.R. s. 383.51). A first-time refusal typically results in a one-year disqualification, while subsequent refusals can lead to permanent disqualification. This is separate from any criminal penalties or suspension of their regular driver’s license.

The officer must inform the driver of this consequence at the time of the arrest. The driver will receive a notice of disqualification and a temporary 10-day permit to drive non-commercial vehicles if they are otherwise eligible.

The driver has the right to challenge the disqualification through a formal or informal review process within ten days of receiving the notice. However, the disqualification remains in effect during this process. If the driver requests a formal review, a hearing will be held to determine whether there was sufficient cause for the disqualification.

The law also outlines the procedures for law enforcement officers to submit evidence of the refusal to the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles. The officer’s failure to submit the evidence within the specified timeframe does not invalidate the disqualification.

Does the Police Officer Have to Inform Me of My Right to Refuse a Breath/Blood/Urine Test?

Florida Statute 316.1932 does not explicitly require police officers to inform drivers of their right to refuse a breath, blood, or urine test. However, it does mandate that the officer inform the driver of the consequences of refusal.

Specifically, the statute states that the person must be told:

  • For breath tests: Refusal will result in a 1-year license suspension for the first offense or an 18-month suspension if the driver has prior refusals or DUI convictions. Additionally, if the driver has a prior refusal or conviction, they may be charged with a first-degree misdemeanor.
  • For urine tests: The same consequences as a breath test refusal apply.
  • For blood tests: The law does not explicitly require the officer to inform the driver of the consequences of refusal in the same way as breath or urine tests. However, if the person is capable of refusing, they should be informed that refusal will lead to a license suspension (1 year for the first refusal, 18 months for subsequent refusals).

It’s important to note that this statute focuses on the officer’s obligation to inform the driver of the consequences of refusal rather than their right to refuse. Florida operates under an “implied consent” law, meaning that drivers who drive in the state have already consented to these tests. Therefore, while the right to refuse exists, it comes with the aforementioned consequences.

Can I Get a Commercial Driver License If I Have a DUI?

Having a DUI on your record in Florida does not automatically disqualify you from obtaining a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL). Here are the key points to consider:

Time Since DUI Conviction

If your DUI occurred more than three years ago and you have maintained compliance with all legal requirements since then, you may still be eligible for a CDL. However, you will likely need to provide additional details about your DUI conviction, and your eligibility will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis.

If your DUI is recent (within the last three years), you will most likely be disqualified from obtaining a CDL during that period.

Employer Considerations

While you can legally obtain a CDL with a DUI on your record, finding employment may be challenging. Many commercial companies are hesitant to hire drivers with a history of DUI due to liability concerns.

However, some employers may be willing to hire individuals with older DUI convictions, especially if several years have passed since the offense and the individual has demonstrated responsible behavior since then.

Can I Obtain a Hardship License if I Have Been Disqualified from Operating a Commercial Motor Vehicle?

If you have been disqualified from operating a commercial motor vehicle due to a DUI, you may still be eligible to apply for a hardship license for your non-commercial driving privileges. 

Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) Holders: 

If your CDL is disqualified, you cannot obtain a hardship license to operate commercial vehicles. However, you may apply for a hardship license to drive a non-commercial vehicle.

According to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV), CDL holders disqualified due to DUI or other serious offenses may seek a hardship license for non-commercial driving after meeting certain conditions, such as completing DUI programs and other requirements.

Application Process: 

Formal Review Hearing: You must request a formal review hearing with the FLHSMV within ten days of your disqualification to determine your eligibility for a hardship license.

DUI Program: Completion of a DUI program is often required before you can be considered for a hardship license.