On December 20, 2017, a school bus driver named Angel Colon was driving a school bus transporting approximately 20 kids to a private school. A Lakewood, NJ police officer responded to a road rage report incident involving the school bus and another car. According to the police, as the officer spoke to the school bus driver, he smelled alcohol on his breath and noticed he had bloodshot eyes and slurred speech. The school bus driver was charged with DWI and endangering the welfare of children.
In New Jersey, a school bus driver is considered a commercial driver and needs a commercial driver’s license to legally drive a school bus. Under the Federal Motor Carrier Act and the New Jersey Commercial Driver’s License Act, it is against the law for a person to operate a commercial vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration (“BAC”) of 0.04 percent or higher. It is important to note that this 0.04 BAC standard is lower than the “BAC of 0.08 percent or higher” DWI standard that applies to drivers age 21 or over with normal, non-commercial driver’s licenses.
If you are convicted of a commercial DWI in New Jersey, you will receive all the same penalties applicable to a person convicted of a “normal” DWI in New Jersey plus:
- If this was your first offense, your commercial motor vehicle driving privilege will be suspended for 1 to 3 years (See S. 39:3-10.2a).
- If this was your second or subsequent offense, your commercial motor vehicle driving privilege will be suspended for life (see S. 39:3-10.2c).
Important points to note:
- The 0.04 BAC standard for commercial DWI only applies if the driver is operating a commercial vehicle. For example, if Mr. Colon (the school bus driver in the recent commercial DWI incident described in the first paragraph of this blog) was operating a normal, passenger vehicle at the time he was stopped, Mr. Colon would have been held to the 0.08 BAC standard for normal DWI, not the lower 0.04 BAC standard for commercial DWI.
- Had Mr. Colon been operating a normal, passenger vehicle at the time of his DWI arrest, while the 0.08 BAC standard for normal DWI would have applied, he still would be subject to the aggravated penalty of having his commercial driver’s license suspended for 1 to 3 years.
If your commercial driver’s license has been suspended or revoked, you cannot work as a commercial driver until your commercial driver’s license has been reinstated. As such, if you have a commercial driver’s license and your employment is based on such licensure, getting your commercial driver’s license suspended or revoked due to a commercial DWI in New Jersey can have massive implications on your livelihood. Accordingly, a commercial DWI charge is too significant to fight on your own. Strongly consider hiring an experienced DWI attorney to defend your rights and zealously advocate on your behalf to help protect the status of your commercial driver’s license and your job. At the Law Office of Eric M. Mark, a seasoned, knowledgeable DWI lawyer/criminal traffic defense lawyer with experience defending commercial DWIs on New Jersey roads can help defend your commercial DWI charge and achieve the best possible case outcome.
To schedule your free consultation with a DWI attorney in Newark, NJ or Jersey City NJ, contact us online at the Law Office of Eric M. Mark or call (973) 453-2009.