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Is your CDL at risk due to criminal charges in Tennessee?

If you make a living operating a hazmat vehicle or some other type of commercial truck in Tennessee, you're likely aware that you're bound to stringent safety standards. Any type of traffic violation or criminal charges while driving can place your commercial driver's license at risk. Many people depend on their CDLs to make ends meet and provide for their families, so incurring a license suspension or losing a job can be devastating.

Truck drivers often spend long hours on the road. When fatigue sets in, many seek ways to stay alert behind the wheel. Some listen to upbeat music or podcasts while others crack open their windows for a little fresh air. There have also been many reports regarding commercial drivers who consume controlled substances to help them stay awake. This is generally a very bad idea since it not only may adversely affect driving skills, it can also lead to criminal charges and CDL suspension.

Possible penalties for infractions as a CDL motorist

Did you know that if police pull you over while you are driving your family car and charge you with driving under the influence, your CDL license is at risk even though you weren't behind the wheel of a commercial vehicle at the time? Here are a few other situations that can negatively affect your CDL:

  • Accidents resulting in fatality: Any time a motor vehicle collision occurs where a commercially licensed driver is deemed negligent, the driver's CDL is at risk.
  • Impairment: Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is a criminal offense, not a traffic violation. Not only do you stand to lose your CDL and your job, you could face time in jail and substantial fines if convicted.
  • No license: Carrying your regular driver's license does no good if police pull you over while you are operating a commercial vehicle. You must have your CDL with you any time you get behind the wheel of a commercial truck.
  • Refusing a chemical test: The Tennessee Implied Consent Statute (Tennessee Code Annotated § 55-10-406) states that when you received your driver's license, you automatically consented to submit to any chemical test a law enforcement officer requests if he or she has reasonable suspicion of drunk driving.

Violation of that code carries automatic penalties that include license suspension. Of course, just because police have charged you with a crime or traffic violation doesn't necessarily mean the court will hand down a conviction. After all, police officers are capable of making mistakes just like the rest of us. The best way to protect your CDL and your job is obviously to avoid any type of behavior that places you at risk for an accident or traffic stop.

It's undoubtedly much nicer to call your family from your Tennessee hotel room to tell them you love them rather than calling to inform them that police have arrested you and charged you with a crime. Still, you'd hardly be the first person ever (or the last) to face such circumstances as a commercial truck driver. Knowing where to turn for help can alleviate much stress should you run into trouble that places your CDL at risk. An experienced criminal defense attorney is one resource who can offer immediate assistance in such situations.

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Mr. McKellar was voted by his peers as a “Top Attorney” by Knoxville’s CityView Magazine in its 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, and 2017 editions. In 2014, 2015, and 2016, Mr. McKellar was selected as a member of the “Top 100 Trial Lawyers” by the National Trial Lawyers.

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