As a commercial driver in New Jersey, you must demonstrate a higher duty of care to other drivers on the road than drivers of non-commercial vehicles. Because of this, if an officer arrests you for driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, you may be subject to heftier fines and stricter penalties. This is for good reason, as your cargo may involve dangerous materials, small children or adult passengers. Additionally, if you get behind the wheel while drugged or drunk, you not only pose a serious threat to yourself and the general public, but you also become a serious liability to your employer.
According to FindLaw, drivers that must demonstrate a heightened duty of care include for-hire motor carriers, private motor carriers and drivers for the federal, state or local government. Employers who must demonstrate a heightened duty include those who own or lease commercial vehicles, those who assign drivers to operate commercial vehicles, civic organizations and churches.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has strict alcohol-related regulations for commercial drivers. Federal law states that drivers of passenger vehicles are safe to drive so long as their blood alcohol concentration level is at .08 or lower. However, per the FMCSA, commercial drivers must maintain a BAC of .04 or lower. Moreover, drivers of commercial vehicles cannot operate their rigs within four hours of consuming alcohol.
If a police officer stops and arrests you for driving under the influence, you may be subject to the same criminal law procedures as non-commercial drivers charged with a DUI. The state is likely to suspend your license for a longer time period than had you been stopped as the driver of a pedestrian vehicle.
If law enforcement stops and arrests you for driving under the influence, you must notify your employer. This is the case regardless of which vehicle you were driving at the time of the stop—your commercial vehicle or your personal vehicle. If your DUI results in a revoked or suspended license, your employer will have no choice but to suspend your employment for the duration of your license suspension.
The information in this article is not intended to serve as legal advice. It is for educational purposes only.