Joe is sitting at home on Saturday afternoon; he just returned from making a beer run. His game plan is to stay home and watch a football game. The game is deep into the first half, and Joe gets a call from his boss. Joe is a truck driver and his boss told him that another driver’s wife is pregnant and went into labor. Joe prides himself on being a team player, and he is a good guy, so he agrees to make the run.

.04 Is a Texas Commercial License DWI

Within a block of the terminal, he stops at for a red-light.  He hears tires squeal and feels a slight thump. A car ran into the back of Joe’s truck. The bumper on Joe’s truck is scratched, and the car had a broken headlight and minor damage to the front end. However, when the police officer arrives, he detects the faint odor of alcohol on Joe’s breath. Joe blows over .04, which is the legal limit for commercial drivers. Joe is stunned; he only had three beers. However, according to Cleveland Clinic’s blood-alcohol calculator, a 185-pound person who drinks three beers which have an alcohol content of 5% in 1.5 hours will have a blood-alcohol level in excess of .05.

Joe now faces criminal charges and the loss of his livelihood because he was trying to be a team player and help a friend out. A person with a blood alcohol content of .04 is guilty of driving under the influence while operating a commercial vehicle.  It gets worse. A person convicted of a DUI while driving a commercial vehicle loses their commercial license for at least one year. The law further provides that a person convicted of a second DWI while operating a commercial vehicle can lose their commercial license for life.

No Probable Cause Needed

A commercial driver is subject to a breathalyzer and other tests if a law enforcement officer has probable cause to believe the driver has a measurable amount of alcohol in his system. This differs from a driver of a private vehicle where the police must have probable cause that the driver is guilty of a DUI before they can be taken into custody.

Texas Commercial License DWI Defenses

Although the threshold for charging a commercial driver with a DWI is low, defenses do exist. The first defense starts at the roadside. Joe explained to the police officer he only had three beers, but he did not expect to be driving that day and that he was filling in for another driver. The police officer might have nodded his head sympathetically before placing Joe under arrest for a DWI. Instead, Joe should not have helped the police make their case. Provide the officer your driver’s license and registration. The law does not require you to answer questions such as how much alcohol you have consumed.

If the officer has probable cause to believe that you have consumed a measurable amount of alcohol, she will ask you to submit to a chemical analysis of your breath, blood, or urine. If you refuse, your license will be suspended for a year for refusing the test. If convicted of a DWI, your commercial driver’s license will be suspended for at least a year.

Breathalyzers must be maintained and calibrated according to procedure. The person conducting the test must have proper credentials. Blood and urine samples must be collected and tested according to protocol. Mistakes do happen.