Basically, California Vehicle Code section 23152(d) prohibits commercial license holders from driving with a blood alcohol level of .04% or higher.
The commercial license holder faces a 1-year suspension of the commercial license for a first offense, in addition to the other DUI penalties. The hazardous materials transport commercial license suspension is 3 years. For second or subsequent offenses, there is a LIFETIME BAN on each type of commercial license. Such license holders may be able to obtain basic drivers licenses within the shorter period applicable to other drivers license holders.
Criminal DUI Prosecution For Commercial Vehicles and Common Carriers
Section 49 U.S.C. §§2701 et seq.: Commercial Motor Vehicle Safety Act
CVC §§15200 et seq. and Stats. 1989, Chap. 1114, institute changes in California law which were required by Federal regulations adopted pursuant to the Federal Commercial Motor Vehicle Safety Act of 1986 (49 U.S.C. §§2701 et seq.). The Federal statutes, since repealed and replaced by 49 U.S.C. §31301, threatened a cutoff of Federal highway funds for failure to enact certain changes in state law.
The Federal statutes are implemented by administrative regulations adopted by the U.S. Department of Transportation. [49 C.F.R. Part 382 (§§382.101 et seq.)—Transportation Employee Drug and Alcohol Testing; and 49 C.F.R. Part 383 (§§383.1 et seq.)—Commercial Driver’s License Standards; Requirements and Penalties]
The California Highway Patrol has also enacted implementing administrative regulations. [Title 13, Cal. C. of Regs. §§1200 et seq.]
§23152(d): Commercial Driving 0.04% Per Se
CVC §§23152 and 23153, subdivision (d), both create a 0.04% per se drunk driving offense for commercial drivers as defined in CVC §15210. Subdivision (d) also contains a three-hour presumption relating chemical test results to BAC Subdivisions (e) and (f) provide for repeal of subdivision (d) at such time as Federal law may no longer require it. Additionally, commercially licensed drivers suffer additional penalties (see below)
23152. (d) It is unlawful for any person who has 0.04 percent or more, by weight, of alcohol in his or her blood to drive a commercial motor vehicle, as defined in Section 15210. In any prosecution under this subdivision, it is a rebuttable presumption that the person had 0.04 percent or more, by weight, of alcohol in his or her blood at the time of driving the vehicle if the person had 0.04 percent or more, by weight, of alcohol in his or her blood at the time of the performance of a chemical test within three hours after the driving.
§34501.15: Commercial Driving Over 0.01% BAC
CVC §34501.15 provides that commercial motor vehicle operators (defined in CVC §15210) are ordered out of service for 24 hours if they are found to have a BAC of 0.01% or more, and orders the C.H.P. to adopt administrative regulations in support. In response, the C.H.P. adopted Title 13, Cal. C. of Regs. §1213.1. Subdivisions (c), (d), (e) and (f) .
Violation of this administrative regulation is an infraction (CVC §34506.3). Thus, not only is it an infraction offense to operate a commercial vehicle with a BAC of 0.01% or more, it’s an infraction offense to operate for the next 24 hours, and an infraction offense for an officer to fail to issue an out-of-service order when required. CVC §15311 provides for a series of escalating suspension penalties as punishment for violating an out-of-service order.
Common Carrier Operation Under Influence
Pub. Util. C. §§7818, 7679 and 21407.5; Harb. & Nav. C. §655: California Common Carrier Offense
California law outlaws alcohol or drug influenced operation of common carriers by type of vehicle. [Pub. Util. C. §7818—Streetcar; Pub. Util. C. §7679—Train; Pub. Util. C. §21407.5—Airplane; Harb. & Nav. C. §§655 et seq.—Boat]
18 U.S.C. §§341 et seq.: Federal Common Carrier Offense
Federal law (18 U.S.C. §342) makes it a FELONY to operate a common carrier (defined in 18 U.S.C. §341) under the influence of alcohol or drugs. There is a presumption of intoxication at 0.10% or more BAC (18 U.S.C. §343). The crime carries a possible 15-year prison sentence.
Administrative Actions For Commercial Vehicles and Common Carriers
Additional Penalties for Commercial License Holders (or Applicants) Who Suffer §23152 or 23153 Conviction Regardless of Whether Commercial Vehicle Involved
CVC §15300 and 15302 impose heavy sanctions on commercial license holders who suffer a §23152 or 23153 conviction, or who refuse to submit to chemical testing, regardless of whether the offense was committed in a commercial vehicle. These additional penalties are as follows:
First offense §23152 or 23153 in any vehicle: One-year suspension (three years if hazardous materials transport) on commercial privilege (restriction eligibility retained for non-commercial driving). CVC §15300.
Second offense §23152 or 23153 in any vehicle: Life-time revocation on commercial privilege. CVC §15302.
First-time refusal after driving any vehicle: One-year suspension (three years if transporting hazardous materials) on commercial privilege. CVC §15300.
Second-time refusal after driving any vehicle: Life-time revocation on commercial privilege. CVC §15302.