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Commercial Drivers And Police Stops

Interviewer: What about with commercial drivers? First of all, why would they get pulled over?

Commercial Drivers Are Subject to Different Regulations—Even When They Are Not Driving for a Work-Related Matter When They Are Stopped

Attorney: We have two types of pullovers for commercial drivers. One, we have a commercial driver who is effectively off duty, he’s just driving his civilian driver, he’s not exercising his commercial driver’s privileges. He gets pulled over just like you and I would for anything, but he’s subjected to a higher standard because he is the holder of a commercial driver’s license. Even if he is not using his commercial driver’s license, if he refuses or if there is any alcohol in his blood he could lose his commercial driver’s license.

Let’s say he’s a trucker. He’s pulled off to the side of the road. He’s tired and there isn’t a truck stop nearby that he can pull into. Maybe he’s not feeling well. The officer comes by to see what’s going on. Even though he didn’t pull the driver over, now there’s an account of the police officer on the scene.

He now takes your license from the driver and that effectively is being what we refer to as being stopped. This is because once he has the license; the driver is really not free to leave the scene any longer.

Once you’re stopped, you may not be in custody, and you may not be under arrest. Those are the key words that the government likes to use, but from a reasonable person’s point of view, if a police officer has me there and he has my license, I might as well be in handcuffs.

I’m not going anywhere. I’ve got to answer everything he tells me to do.

Commercial Drivers Can Be Stopped by the Police for a Number of Reasons

Commercial drivers could be subject to being pulled over for many reasons. Some officers want to see if the trucker, which is specifically only allowed to be driving a certain number of hours per day, has exceeded the allotment in their log book.

They’re pulled over for inspection of log books. They get pulled over for safety inspections. There are probably a dozen or more reasons that the police can pull over a trucker who would be doing nothing wrong under the guise of “I want to see your papers,” or “I want to see the registration.” Highway police are notorious for inventing reasons to pull people over, and they love to pull over truckers.

How Do Cases for Commercial License Holders Usually Resolve?

Interviewer: Now, when you work with a client that’s like a trucker, or has a commercial driver’s license, how would their case be resolved?

Attorney: There are basically three scenarios. One you have the driver who is pulled over, whether or not they were on duty or off duty, and they refuse to take the tests. Those are very difficult cases because they need their license in order to make a living. With most of those cases, you would almost have to go to trial. This is because the government goes against the truckers and when you are alleged to have refused to take a test, you can lose your license.

Cases Are Harder for the State to Prove without the Results of the Chemical Testing

The only way to get it back is to try it and beat it. Of course, when they refuse the tests, the Department of Motor Vehicles gets involved. Then there are collateral consequences, but the criminal side, as far as we’re concerned, without tests we usually beat those cases. They are very, very beatable cases because again, a DWI is unlike any other case, it’s a crime of opinion based upon the officer’s opinion you had poor driving and you were intoxicated. Those are not easy to beat but they are much more easily beaten then the other cases.

The next one with the commercial driver’s license is of course the driver who takes a breath test. Let’s forget entirely about the field sobriety tests. Most truckers can’t do those field sobriety tests because they have back problems and knee problems, leg problems, and ankle problems from driving for so many hours.

Any Alcohol-Related Component of a Charge for a Commercial Driver Results in Loss of Their License

They take a test and there’s a positive result. Those cases are negotiated a lot easier, but again, for the use of a commercial driver’s license, if there’s any alcohol-related component, they are subject to a suspension of their driver’s license.

Those are the cases we tend to be very successful with as well.