CDL Holder & DUI in Oklahoma

How Can a DUI or APC Affect a CDL Oklahoma?

dui cdl attorney oklahomaIf you have a commercial driver’s license (CDL) and you get a DUI or APC (Actual Physical Control) in Oklahoma, you’re facing very harsh penalties. Oklahoma’s laws on CDL holders and DUI/APC are in line with federal law and regulations.

Your CDL (Class A, B, or C license) will be disqualified if you get a conviction for, enter a no contest plea to, or enter a guilty plea to:

  1. Driving, operating, or being in actual physical control of a commercial motor vehicle while having a blood or breath alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.04 or more;
  2. Refusing to submit to a test for determination of alcohol concentration while operating a commercial motor vehicle,
  3. Refusing to submit to a test for determination of alcohol concentration while operating any vehicle if you’re the holder of a commercial driver license; or
  4. Driving or being in actual physical control of any motor vehicle (commercial and non-commercial) while under the influence of alcohol or any other intoxicating substance or the combined influence of alcohol and any other intoxicating substance.

Other non-DUI reasons a CDL can be disqualified

  1. Knowingly leaving the scene of a collision while operating any vehicle;
  2. Any felony during the commission of which any motor vehicle is used, except a felony involving the manufacture, distribution or dispensation of a controlled dangerous substance;
  3. Operating a commercial motor vehicle while the commercial driving privilege is revoked, suspended, canceled, denied, or disqualified;
  4. Manslaughter homicide, or negligent homicide occurring as a direct result of negligent operation of any vehicle;
  5. Fraud related to examination for or issuance of a commercial learner permit or a Class A, B or C driver license; or
  6. Failure to submit to skills or knowledge reexamination, or both, for the purpose of issuance of a commercial learner permit or a Class A, B or C driver license within 30 days of receipt of notification from DPS.

Note that DWI in Oklahoma–Driving While Impaired–is not a disqualifying offense. A DWI in Oklahoma has no effect on a CDL, other than the license revocation period for an actual DWI conviction. There are no points associated with a DWI conviction. Think of DWI in Oklahoma like a bad traffic ticket.

Penalty for Committing a Disqualifying Offense

A CDL will be disqualified for one year for the first conviction of any of the above offenses, with some exceptions. A CDL will be disqualified for three years for the first conviction of any of the above offenses when they are committed in connection with the operation of a motor vehicle which is required to be placarded for hazardous materials A second conviction of any of the above offenses results in a lifetime CDL disqualification. A CDL will be disqualified for life upon conviction for any felony related to the manufacture, distribution, or dispensation of a controlled dangerous substance while operating any vehicle.

These periods cannot be modified. Modification means that you are allowed to legally drive if there’s an interlock installed in your vehicle. If your CDL is disqualified, you can’t drive a CDL until the disqualification is reinstated. This typically involves taking all the required CDL tests again. A CDL disqualification is separate from a Class D driver license (non-commercial) suspension. If you CDL is disqualified, that doesn’t necessarily mean your regular driver’s license is suspended (also referred to as “revoked”). If you Class D license is suspended, then your CDL will also be disqualified for the period of suspension. Your Class D portion may be eligible for modification even though your CDL is disqualified.

If a conviction is for a non-resident CDL holder, DPS won’t disqualify the driver, but will instead report the conviction to the licensing jurisdiction in which the license of the nonresident to operate the commercial vehicle was issued. Anyone who is disqualified from driving a CDL per Oklahoma law may appeal that disqualification.

What Constitutes a “Conviction” for Purposes of CDL Disqualification?

Something to keep in mind with a commercial driver’s license is the definition of conviction. This is different than the definition used in other statutes.

A “conviction” for purposes of disqualification of a CDL is:

  1. A nonvacated adjudication of guilt;
  2. A determination that the driver has violated or failed to comply with this law in any court or by the Department of Public Safety following an administrative determination;
  3. A nonvacated forfeiture of bail or collateral deposited to secure the driver’s appearance in court;
  4. A plea of guilty or nolo contendere accepted by the court;
  5. The payment of any fine or court costs; or
  6. A violation of a condition of release without bail, regardless of whether or not the penalty is rebated, suspended or probated.

A conviction for purposes of disqualification of driving privileges for a CDL includes any plea of guilty or no contest. Pleading to a deferred sentence is considered a conviction for CDL purposes. Even getting your case dismissed “with costs” is considered a conviction for CDL purposes!

For a DUI charge to not have an impact on a CDL, there are only the following options:

  • The charge must be dismissed without costs
  • Take the case to trial and win
  • Have the charge amended prior to plea

The third one is tricky. Federal law prohibits “masking.” Masking is where the DUI charge gets masked by the defendant pleading to a lesser charge. To not be considered masking, the prosecutor must either dismiss the case and refile a new case with a different charge or amend the charge prior to the plea. The amending of the charge must be for a reason other than to prevent a DUI from showing up on the CDL holder’s driving history.

Serious Traffic Offenses

The following are considered “serious traffic offenses”:

  1. Speeding fifteen (15) miles per hour or more over the limit;
  2. Reckless driving;
  3. Any traffic offense committed that results in or in conjunction with a motor vehicle collision resulting in a fatality;
  4. Erratic or unsafe lane changes;
  5. Following too closely;
  6. Failure to obtain a commercial driver license;
  7. Failure to have in possession of the person a commercial driver license;
  8. Failure to have:
    1. the proper class of commercial driver license for the class of vehicle being operated,
    2. the proper endorsement or endorsements for the type of vehicle being operated, including but not limited to, passengers or type of cargo being transported, or
    3. both proper class and proper endorsement, as provided in subparagraphs a and b of this paragraph;
  9.  Operating a commercial motor vehicle while using a cellular telephone or electronic communication device to write, send, or read a text-based communication; or
  10. Operating a commercial motor vehicle while using a hand-held cellphone.

Penalty For a CDL Holder Committing a Serious Traffic Offense in Oklahoma

A CDL will be disqualified for 60 days after a second conviction for any of the above serious traffic offenses arising out of separate transactions or occurrences within a three-year period. A CDL will be disqualified for 120 days after a third conviction for a serious traffic offense arising out of separate transactions or occurrences within a three-year period. The 120-day period will run in addition to and won’t run concurrently with any other period disqualification imposed.

Sources: 47 OS §§ 6-205.2 & 6-211 and Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, National Driver Register, Oklahoma DPS Masking Memo, & OK Addendum to Masking Memo

Current as of March 8, 2020. Laws are subject to change at any time! Go to the sources cited above for the most up-to-date law.

CDL holder & charged with DUI in Oklahoma? Call Oklahoma CDL DUI lawyer Frank Urbanic in OKC for a free case consultation.

Don’t panic! Call Urbanic.® 405-633-3420