Military? CDL? Pilot? Don’t Let a Washington DUI Wreck Your Career

Being arrested is stressful. Being arrested for DUI is scary. After all, now you’re facing potential jail time, fines, license suspension and other possible penalties like mandatory installation of an ignition interlock device or mandatory drug/alcohol treatment programs. It’s not good for any career but being charged with DUI in certain professions can be downright terrifying. If you’re in the military you may be facing further sanctions. If you’re a CDL driver or a pilot this could have serious repercussions to your career.

Let’s start with the military possibility. Because of your military career and especially if you were stopped on base you may be facing these charges in federal court. The penalties are the same but the procedures are different. You need a DUI defense attorney that is familiar with these differences.

You may be wondering, “What other penalties, due to my military status, may I be facing?” You may be facing base driving privileges being withdrawn. You may be facing not being allowed to leave the base. You may be facing communication privileges being restricted – including phone and computer. You may be facing an increase in base duty – most people don’t enjoy KP. You may be facing mandatory drug or alcohol treatment even before the case is finished. You may be facing demotion.

What about the possibility that you’re a professional driver with a CDL? That CDL provides you your employment. That CDL helps you support yourself. That CDL helps you support your family. Now, this DUI charge is threatening all of that.

You’re probably wondering just what the penalties are to your CDL. Or, maybe you’re hoping that there won’t be any because at the time you were charged you were driving your personal vehicle. No matter which vehicle you were driving this could potentially threaten your CDL. There is one difference. If you were driving your commercial vehicle and your breath test result was .04 BAC or if there was any amount of marijuana you will then be charged with DUI. In a personal vehicle, the limits are .08 BAC and 5ng of THC through the test. If you refused the test, the potential suspension is the same. No matter what vehicle you were driving, if this is your first offense, you face a possible 1 year CDL suspension. So, yes, this can get serious. You don’t want to lose your livelihood.

You have one chance to respond to the DOL license suspension. When you were stopped the officer would have given you a hearing request form. If you were driving your personal vehicle the CDL hearing will be separate and that notice will be sent to you in the mail. In both cases you only have 20 days to respond so you will want to discuss this with your defense attorney to make sure you’re taking the appropriate steps. Plus he can then counsel you on your best defense strategy as you go through the hearing. It will all be on telephone and you are allowed to be represented by counsel.

What about a pilot’s license you hold? You may already know the consequences this may cause you just as a WA driver charged with DUI. You’re probably already dealing with the DOL suspending your driver’s license. But what you want to know is how this will affect your pilot’s license. Well the first thing to do is to take care of that DOL suspension. As you probably know – if you’re not allowed to drive, you’re not allowed to fly either. Realize that at the DOL hearing you are allowed to be represented by counsel. Consult with your defense attorney so that the administrative suspension of your driver’s license can be lifted as soon as possible.

Next, and just as seriously, you’re going to want to deal with the FAA requirements – they’re very strict and you will want to follow them to the letter. Complying with their requirements can very well mean the difference being allowed to continue to fly or not. Within 60 days of the arrest you are required to notify the FAA – the proper paperwork can be found on the FAA website. Also they are going to want separate notifications of any administrative action and of a conviction if that happens. They’re also required to get any information about a substance abuse problem to be able to issue you a medical certificate. The most advisable thing to do is to get a drug/alcohol evaluation so that you will have documentation that either shows that you don’t have a problem or that at least you are following all recommended treatment.

A DUI is stressful enough. Don’t let it ruin your career. This is serious. You need to realize that. Your Tacoma DUI defense attorney at Smith & White, PLLC will realize that too. We will examine every facet of your case. We will examine whether there was probable cause to stop you. We will examine how the test was taken. We will hear your side and make sure it’s heard. We will get you your best result possible. Please call the law office of Smith & White, PLLC – the first consultation is free.

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