Truck and bus drivers in Nevada are subject to stricter DUI laws than non-commercial drivers: The legal blood alcohol limit is only .04. And a DUI conviction can cause their commercial driver's licenses (CDLs) to be suspended for a year or even life. Scroll down for the definition, defenses, and penalties for Commercial DUI in Nevada.
Definition (NRS 484C.120)
The legal definition of commercial driver DUI in Nevada makes it a crime for someone with a BAC of 0.04 or above "to drive or be in actual physical control of a commercial motor vehicle on a highway or on premises to which the public has access."
Lower BAC limit
it is automatically illegal for a regular driver to operate a motor vehicle with a BAC of 0.08, which is twice the 0.04 limit for commercial motorists. So bus drivers, truck drivers and the like are held to a stricter standard and can be more easily arrested for drunk driving in Nevada.
Even if their BAC is lower than 0.04, commercial drivers can still be arrested for Las Vegas DUI as long as they seem to be under the influence or alcohol or drugs. And in cases where commercial drivers do not appear to be under the influence but they do have some alcohol in their system less than the 0.04 limit, the officer will issue them a 24-hour order to stay off the road.
How Does Nevada Law Define "Commercial Vehicle"?
Commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) in Las Vegas comprise most trucks, buses and shuttles. Specifically, a CMV is any motor vehicle used in commerce to transport passengers or property if the motor vehicle:
- has a gross combination weight rating of 26,001 or more lbs. (includes a towed unit with a gross vehicle weight rating of over 10,000 lbs.),
- has a gross vehicle weight rating of 26,001 or more lbs.,
- is designed to transport 16 or more passengers including the driver, OR
- is used in the transportation of hazardous materials
Getting convicted of commercial license DUI in Las Vegas can be devastating for many people's employment prospects because penalties often include a lengthy drivers license suspension. But there are always legal defenses your attorney can employ to try to weaken the state's evidence and persuade the prosecutors to dismiss the charges:
- Police mistakes. If the police administered the field sobriety tests incorrectly, used defective breath testing equipment or committed other misconduct, that would cast doubt on their entire investigation. It could therefore cause the state or the court to dismiss the charges.
- Improper traffic stop. If the police pulled you over or detained you without probable cause, we can run a "suppression motion" seeking to get all the evidence excluded. If successful, this usually means your case gets dismissed.
- Not a commercial vehicle. Perhaps there is a valid argument that the vehicle you were operating was not "commercial" in nature. If the prosecutor cannot prove that it was a CMV, then you cannot be convicted for violating Las Vegas commercial driving under the influence laws.
- No causation in an accident case. In DUI causing death or injury in Nevada cases, your charges should be dismissed if the prosecutor cannot prove that the bodily harm or fatality was the result of your alleged drunk driving. Perhaps the incident was the other party's fault or just a tragic accident where no one was at fault.
Penalties (NRS 484C.350; NRS 483.461)
The standard sentence for a Nevada commercial DUI conviction is mostly identical to that of regular drivers. The main difference is that commercial drivers stand to lose their commercial driver's licenses.
Commercial License Suspension (49 CFR 383.51)
A first-time Nevada DUI conviction will cause a driver's CDL to be suspended for one (1) year. But if the driver was transporting hazardous materials at the time, the suspension is increased to three (3) years. And a second DUI conviction results in permanent, lifelong CDL revocation!
Note that if a CDL-holder gets arrested for DUI in a personal vehicle for having a BAC of .08 or above or for being physically impaired by alcohol or drugs, both his regular driver's license and CDL will get suspended. (A first offense carries a 90 days suspension for a non-commercial driver's license, and a second offense carries a one-year suspension.)
And if a CDL-holder gets a DUI for driving a commercial vehicle with a BAC of at least .04 but less than .08, both his regular driver's license and CDL get suspended as well. (A first offense carries a 90 days suspension for a non-commercial driver's license, and a second offense carries a one-year suspension.)
Meanwhile, a CDL-holder may legally drive a non-commercial car with a BAC of less than .08 as long as he/she is not impaired.
Misdemeanor Commercial DUI penalties
A first offense commercial DUI in Nevada is a misdemeanor. The punishment includes:
- 2 days to 6 months in jail or 48 hours to 96 hours of community service
- $400 to $1,000 in fines
- victim impact panel
- Nevada DUI School
- possible substance abuse treatment program
- 90-day suspension of non-commercial drivers licenses
Penalties for a second conviction of Commercial DUI in Nevada (within seven years of the first one) include:
- 10 days to 6 months in jail
- $750 to $1,000 in fines
- victim impact panel
- DUI School
- possible substance abuse treatment program
- 1-year suspension of non-commercial drivers licenses
Penalties may be as much as doubled if the incident took place in a work zone. And a third Las Vegas DUI conviction within a seven-year period is charged as a category B felony and carries the following sentence:
- 1 to 6 years state prison, and
- $2,000 to $5,000 in fines,
- 3 years suspension of non-commercial driver's license
Learn more about felony DUI in Nevada following prior convictions.
Felony Commercial DUI with injury or death
When an alleged Las Vegas DUI incident causes serious bodily harm or a fatality to someone else, the state can bring charges for a category B felony carrying possible penalties of:
- 2 to 20 years state prison,
- $2,000 to $5,000 in fines, and
- possible suspension or revocation of non-commercial drivers license
If the driver was transporting a child under fifteen at the time, the judge will take it into account when deciding the final sentence. People convicted of felony commercial DUI in Las Vegas are usually housed in minimum-security facilities and segregated from violent offenders. The incarceration can often be served intermittently.
Your criminal defense attorneys' first line of defense will be to try to get your commercial DUI charge dismissed completely. But in situations where the prosecutors are unwilling to throw out the case, they may be amenable to lowering the charges to Reckless Driving in Nevada. Reckless driving in Nevada carries only a two month CDL suspension for a first offense, and it has much less of a social stigma as well.
For more on how to reduce a DUI to reckless driving in Nevada, see our article on how to reduce a DUI to reckless driving in Nevada.
Facing Las Vegas Commercial DUI charges? Call us . . .
If you have a commercial drivers license and you have been charged with Nevada DUI or any driving under the influence charge, call our Las Vegas DUI defense attorneys at 702-DEFENSE (702-333-3673) for a free meeting. We will take every measure to keep you out of jail and to safeguard your driver's license so you can keep working at your job.
To learn about California commercial DUI law, go to our article on California commercial DUI law.