Semi-Truck Pulled Over by a Police OfficerCommercial driver licenses (CDLs) are required for anyone who operates a school bus, 18-wheeler, heavy construction equipment, or other commercial vehicle. If you are charged with DUI or OVI in Ohio, it's not only your commercial driver license that's at stake—you could lose your freedom and your ability to work in the industry.

If you have been arrested for drunk driving, you need a Cincinnati DUI lawyer who will fight for your rights through every stage of your case. Contact The Law Offices of Steven R. Adams today to find out how we can protect your future.

A Commercial Driver OVI Charge Is Not the Same as a Regular DUI

The first thing you need to know is that a commercial DUI is NOT like a normal drunk driving case. Commercial drivers are held to a higher standard—and face more severe consequences—when it comes to driving a vehicle under the influence.

Ohio laws regarding commercial driver DUI or OVI include:

  • Lower BAC limits. The legal limit for a commercial driver's blood alcohol level (BAC) is .04, much lower than the limit for drivers over 21 years of age of non-commercial vehicles which is .08.
  • Personal vehicles. Commercial drivers can lose their CDLs even if they personally own the commercial vehicle or if they were not working at the time of the offense.
  • Potential termination. If convicted, drivers can face CDL suspension or even permanent termination of their right to drive a commercial vehicle.

DUI Penalties for Commercial Drivers in Ohio

Under Ohio law, operating a commercial vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or a controlled substance is a first-degree misdemeanor. If you refuse to submit to BAC testing, you can face additional penalties under Ohio CDL law. If convicted, the potential penalties include:

  • Jail time and fines. A first-degree misdemeanor carries a penalty of up to 180 days in jail or probation and up to $1,075 in fines.
  • Loss of commercial driving privileges. A first-offense conviction results in a minimum of one year CDL disqualification. If your vehicle was transporting hazardous materials, CDL disqualification may be increased up to three years. A second offense will result in permanent CDL revocation for life.
  • Temporary CDL suspension. Ohio laws are particularly strict when it comes to suspending the immediate driving privileges of a commercial driver. If you are found with any alcohol in your system, you cannot legally operate your commercial vehicle for any reason for the next 24 hours. If you are arrested for DUI or OVI, your CDL will be automatically suspended for 90 days if you blow over the illegal limit and for 1 year if you refuse a chemical test—even if you were not driving the commercial vehicle at the time of the arrest. Unlike other DUI cases, no driving privileges will be granted for commercial vehicle operation during the administrative suspension period.

Many people do not realize that they have the right to appeal any administrative suspensions made by the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV), including commercial license suspensions. However, in order to appeal the decision, you must submit a request for an administrative hearing to the BMV within thirty 30 days after receiving a Notice of Disqualification.

Even if your license has been temporarily suspended, you must keep in mind that a criminal charge is not the same as a conviction. If you are not convicted, or if your charges are reduced to a lesser offense, you may not lose your CDL. The only way to avoid losing your job and your future career prospects is to hire an attorney who has years of experience building successful defenses in these types of cases. Our legal team can identify potential defenses in your case, refute the evidence against you, and mitigate the long-term consequences of OVI conviction.

Are you or someone you know facing DUI / OVI charges? 

If you are facing DUI charges, you need to speak with an experienced DUI attorney as soon as possible. The Law Offices of Steven R. Adams is recognized by Super Lawyers, Best Lawyers, The Best Lawyers in America, National Trial Lawyers Top 100, and is one of U.S. News' Best Law Firms.  Please contact us online or call our Cincinnati office directly at 513-929-9333 to schedule your free consultation. 


Steven R. Adams
Steven R. Adams was a criminal defense lawyer dedicated to DUI, OVI, and criminal defense in Cincinnati, Ohio.