Drivers of commercial and public transportation vehicles are held to a higher standard when it comes to on-the-road conduct.
They are expected to obey all traffic safety laws, including those regarding sober driving. In this regard, in most states there is a lower threshold for what is considered legally intoxicating for a commercial driver.
While most drivers (save for those under 21 years-old) are considered legally drunk behind the wheel when registering a blood-alcohol level of 0.08 percent, a commercial DUI in Alabama can be issued when a driver registers a blood-alcohol level of 0.04 percent.
For those who drive school buses and day care transportation vehicles, it’s even lower – 0.02 percent. (Same goes for under-21 drivers.)
That’s pursuant to Alabama Code 32-9A-2 and 32-5A-191.
For these drivers, a conviction means more than a hefty fine and possible jail time. A conviction of this nature could signal the end of their career, especially if the alleged infraction occurred while they were on the job.
In Colorado, a recent case of occupational DUI has made headlines, with a 57-year-old school bus driver accused of driving a bus full of 37 students and four adults while intoxicated. He reportedly side-swiped another vehicle while he was transporting members of the freshman football team home from a game.
The incident occurred in the parking lot of the school, and resulted in minor property damages and no injuries.
In addition to being charged with a single count of DUI, he’s also facing charges of child abuse, posing threat or injury to a child, and reckless endangerment.
He’s worked with the district since July of last year. Prior to that, he reportedly worked as a nurse. He was fired from that post in April 2012 after his employer reportedly discovered he’d been illegally providing some patients with certain narcotics. He voluntarily surrendered his nursing license and admitted to battling a substance abuse addiction.
However, the school district said none of that came up in a background check.
Additionally, all of his random drug tests were returned clean.
In Alabama, drivers convicted of a DUI while operating a commercial vehicle can expect to be barred from driving a commercial vehicle for at least one year. If that individual was transporting hazardous materials at the time of the arrest, the penalty is upped to a three-year disqualification.
A two-time commercial DUI offender in Alabama faces a possible lifetime commercial vehicle license suspension, though that may be reduced to 10 years under certain circumstances.
Also, any driver who is convicted of driving intoxicated with a child under the age of 14 in the vehicle at the time of the offense is going to face double the criminal punishment of whatever he or she might have received had the child not been in the car. There is also the possibility, as in this case, of child endangerment charges.
Individuals in these cases will require a strong legal defense.
Bus Driver Accused Of DUI Admitted To Past Substance Abuse Problem, Sept. 23, 2013, Staff Writer, CBS Denver
More Blog Entries:
Birmingham DUI Convictions May Hinge on Reasonable Suspicion, Aug. 31, 2013, Birmingham DUI Lawyer Blog