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DUI & Commercial Drivers (CDL)

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DUI and CDL - Disqualification

If you’ve been arrested for DUI or any related offense, and you hold a commercial driver’s license (CDL), you’re probably feeling a mix of panic and confusion. The penalties are pretty harsh, and your livelihood is on the line. A DUI can significantly impact your career, but understanding what you’re up against is the first step to overcoming it.

CDL Disqualification

Hey there! I’m Linda Callahan, a DUI attorney with years of experience helping commercial drivers navigate the challenges of CDL disqualification.


Let’s face it: being a commercial driver is a huge responsibility, and having a DUI or related offense can throw a wrench in your career. But don’t worry; I’m here to guide you through the ins and outs of CDL disqualification, how you can fight it, and how to get back on the road as quickly as possible.


CDL disqualification occurs when a commercial driver’s license is suspended or revoked due to specific offenses, such as DUI, failing a drug test, or refusing to take a test.

For a first DUI offense with an alcohol test result of .04% or more, the disqualification period is one year. If the driver carries hazardous materials, the period extends to three years.

Yes, CDL disqualification can happen for DUI or related offenses committed in a personal (non-commercial) vehicle.

Yes, CDL disqualification can be challenged through an administrative hearing.  You only have 7 days from the arrest to request a hearing, so act quickly and call us today!

The requalification process typically involves completing the required disqualification period and rehabilitation programs, paying reinstatement fees, submitting proof of financial responsibility, and passing all required CDL tests.

Legal representation is crucial because it provides the expertise and guidance to navigate the complex legal process, challenge disqualification decisions, and achieve the best possible outcome.

DUI and Commercial Drivers (CDL) Penalties

The penalties are clear and strict. For a first offense with an alcohol test result of .04% or more, you’re looking at a 1-year disqualification. If you were carrying hazardous materials, that bumps up to 3 years. And for subsequent offenses, while driving a commercial vehicle with the same alcohol level, it’s a lifetime disqualification.

Personal Vehicle DUI Impact on CDL:

Even a DUI in your personal vehicle can have a significant impact on your CDL. Understanding the potential consequences and taking the necessary steps to protect your livelihood is crucial.

If you refuse a blood alcohol or breath test, or if you get arrested for DUI, Physical Control, or Driver Under 21 Consuming Alcohol, here’s what you’re facing:

  • First-time refusal or DUI: 1-year disqualification.
  • Subsequent refusal or DUI: Lifetime disqualification.
Out-of-State CDL Holders

If you have a CDL from another state, Washington’s Department of Licensing (DOL) will report your disqualification to your home state. That state might suspend, revoke, or disqualify your CDL privileges based on their laws. This reporting system ensures you can’t skip state lines to dodge the consequences.

Requesting a Hearing with the Department of Licensing

Steps to Request a Hearing:

  1. Act Quickly: You’ve got 7 days to request the hearing. Missing this deadline means automatic suspension.
  2. Submit a Written Request: Write to the DOL with your details, CDL number, and a brief explanation of why you’re challenging the suspension.
  3. We can help: If you hire our firm within 5 days of the arrest, we can handle your hearing request. Request for DUI Hearing
  4. Prepare Your Case: Gather evidence like witness statements, test results, and any documentation of procedural errors during your arrest.
  5. Seek Legal Assistance: Trust me, having a trained DUI attorney can make a difference in preparing and presenting your case.
Importance of Requesting a Hearing

Delay Suspension: Requesting a hearing can delay your CDL suspension, giving you time to work while you prepare your defense.

Challenge Evidence: We can contest the evidence against you, such as the accuracy of the breathalyzer or blood test or whether the traffic stop was legal.

Present Your Defense: This is your opportunity to explain any mitigating circumstances.

Requalification Procedures

If you do end up with a disqualification, all is not lost. There are steps you can take to get your CDL back. Here’s what you typically need to do:

  1. Complete the disqualification period:  You will be required not to drive a commercial vehicle during this period.
  2. Complete Any Required Rehabilitation Programs: Depending on your offense, you might need to complete a state-approved rehab program or substance abuse counseling.
  3. Pay Reinstatement Fees: Yes, there are fees involved.
  4. Submit Proof of Financial Responsibility: This often means getting SR-22 insurance.
  5. Pass All Required Tests: You’ll need to retake and pass the CDL tests, both written and skills tests.
CDL Employer Drug and Alcohol Testing

Employers have to comply with federal laws for drug and alcohol testing. Here’s what you need to know:

  • Minimum Disqualification Period: A positive test will get you at least a one-year disqualification.
  • Multiple Offenses: Three positive five-year results lead to a lifetime disqualification.
  • Refusal to Test: Refusing a test also results in disqualification.

DUI Case Results

**Updated 11/15/21**

DUI's Dismissed
DUI's > Neg 1
DUI's > Reckless Driving
DOL Hearings Won
Experienced Lewis County DUI Attorney

Nicholas R. Andrews, Senior Attorney of Counsel

IMG_3822- Katelyn Lazarek 2 - Optimized

Katelyn Lazarek, Attorney of Counsel

Seek Legal Assistance

The issues involved in a CDL disqualification are complex. It’s vital to discuss your case with a qualified DUI lawyer. An experienced attorney can help you protect your commercial driver’s license and livelihood.

At Callahan Law, P.S., Inc., we’re ready to explain your options during a free case evaluation.

Experience and Expertise

What Experience Does Callahan Law Offer?

At Callahan Law, we bring much experience and expertise in DUI defense, especially for commercial drivers. Here’s why you should consider us:

  • Leaders in DUI Defense: We have a proven track record of successful case outcomes.
  • Advanced Training in Breath and Blood Testing: Our attorneys know the technical aspects inside and out, which is crucial for challenging DUI evidence.
  • Authors of The DUI Practice Manual for WA State: Yep, we write the book on DUI in Washington State used by other attorneys in Washington.
Why Choose Callahan Law?

Choosing the right attorney can make all the difference. Here’s why you should choose us:

  • Compassionate and Non-Judgmental: Everyone makes mistakes. We treat our clients with compassion and without judgment.
  • Here to Help You Through This: Our goal is to help you navigate the legal process and achieve the best possible outcome.
  • Custom Defense for Each Client: We develop a personalized defense strategy tailored to your unique circumstances.
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Our Team of Attorneys and Paralegals have over 30 years of combined experience.  We know the law and understand how to apply it to your case.


Focused on You

We create a custom defense for every client.  Not all cases are the same and we know that.  Your concerns and goals are our top priority.



As a long time author and speaker Ms. Callahan is respected across the county for her trial skills and investigative knowledge.  He reputation proceeds herself when appearing in court.

We Author the DUI Manual Defense Attorneys rely on everyday for DUI Defense Strategies.

WashingtonDUIPracticeManual 2

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“Tough DUI Laws Require Tough DUI Lawyers”

Linda M. Callahan

Snohomish County DUI Attorney

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