New Jersey DWI Update: Professional Truck Drivers Risk Everything When Driving Drunk or Drug-impaired

As Garden State DWI defense lawyers, my colleagues and I handle dozens of drunken driving cases every month. While most motorists can be severely inconvenienced by a suspension of their driver’s license if found guilty of driving while intoxicated, the odds are most of them will not lose their jobs or be threatened with a loss of income due to their offense. Professional drivers, those who operate commercial vehicles, have a much greater chance of harming their careers if a court finds them guilty of DWI or drug DUI.

For this reason alone, it is incumbent on any commercial driver who is arrested and charged with drinking and driving to seek a qualified DWI-DUI attorney for his or her defense. The potential fines are not the only concern when it comes to truckers, cabbies, chauffeurs and school bus drivers who are accused of operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. The loss of a commercial driver’s license (or CDL) can spell the end of a career, which could have life-changing effects.

Take the story of an out-of-state truck driver who was pulled over by Vermont police late on a Thursday afternoon. The 32-year old trucker was reportedly hauling a load of flammable material when officers observed the man’s vehicle cross over the centerline four separate times. According to news reports, the officers noticed that the box truck was traveling well below the posted 50mph speed limit, which also drew the patrolmen’s attention.

Following the last of several instances of drifting across the centerline, police initiated a routine traffic stop, which soon developed into a drug DUI arrest. Based on police reports, the driver claimed that he was driving the delivery route for the first time and was apparently not fully comfortable with the handling characteristics of the vehicle. He told the officers that the truck had just been released from a repair facility where the steering system had been worked on.

During the roadside interview with the police officers, the driver admitted having “doubled-up” on his normal dosage of Methylphenidate within three hours of the traffic stop. Officers were shown the
prescription bottle for the drug otherwise known as Ritalin, which reportedly included a warning that the substance might cause an impairment of the user’s ability to operate machinery; it also warned of one specific side-effect, dizziness.

The man was taken into custody and charged with driving under the influence of drugs. Upon being heard by a judge, the truck driver denied the DUI charge and was reportedly released by the court on several conditions, one of which was a promise to refraining from taking drugs or drinking alcohol. It is a scary proposition for a professional truck driver to be charged with DWI or DUI. Operators who hold a CDL and are convicted of a first time drug DUI can face a three-year suspension of their commercial license.