Can I Get a CDL with a DUI in Arizona?


With six interstates in Arizona, commercial driving is a large part of the state’s transportation economy. This attracts many commercial drivers to the state, and for those with past DUIs, it’s important to know Arizona’s stance on DUI.

Getting a CDL with a Past DUI

Even with a previous DUI, you can still get your commercial driver license (CDL) in Arizona. If you were convicted for driving under the influence – in Arizona or any state – you must have completed the original license suspension before applying for your CDL.

If you apply for a CDL and your license is still suspended, revoked or otherwise restricted, you’re CDL application will be rejected.

Typically, DUI offenses include a license suspension. Once this suspension is up, you can apply for your commercial license. It’s important to note that when applying for your CDL in Arizona, it’s best to be forthright with your answers.

A DUI conviction in another state will be shared with Arizona’s Motor Vehicle Division, and if you didn’t include that information on your application, it will be rejected.

The Takeaway: A past DUI won’t stop you from getting a CDL if your license suspension is complete. Not including your DUI offense in your application, however, will result in rejection, no matter how long ago your DUI conviction.

Getting a DUI with Your CDL

Safety expectations are much higher for commercial drivers than normal ones, and what qualifies as a DUI for the driver of a commercial vehicle is half of what it is for other vehicles.

To put it another way, the normal blood alcohol content (BAC) level to be considered intoxicated is .08. For drivers in commercial vehicles, however, it’s .04 BAC.

If a commercial driver is driving a personal vehicle, the .08 BAC level still applies. In either scenario, a DUI for a CDL-holder results in a one-year suspension of the CDL. The only difference is the alcohol concentration threshold needed to be considered intoxication.

In addition to a one-year CDL suspension, the driver will have his or her normal license suspended for 30 to 90 days, and must also complete other requirements, like mandatory alcohol counseling.

A second DUI conviction will result in a lifetime CDL suspension.

The Takeaway: The intoxication level for those in commercial vehicles is much more restrictive, and no matter what vehicle a commercial driver is in, a DUI conviction results in a one-year CDL suspension. A second DUI results in a lifetime CDL ban.

Additional Restrictions on CDLs

If you have one DUI and receive a CDL, your second DUI (the first as a commercial driver) will still result in a lifetime suspension – it doesn’t matter whether or not you had a CDL at the time of your first DUI.

The DUI laws regarding CDLs are the same for all classes in Arizona. So even though CDLs are broken into three classes based on weight – Class A, Class B and Class C – the DUI laws and penalties apply to each of them equally.

CDL Penalties in Arizona

A DUI received in a commercial vehicle is a class 1 misdemeanor. These DUIs also carry heavier fines than normal charge. Although these consequences are significant in themselves, one of the most serious deterrents against commercial DUIs is the way employers handle DUIs.

Because of insurance rates and policies, most commercial driving employers have little leeway for traffic violations and serious offenses like DUIs. For that reason, even one DUI can completely change the direction of a driving career.

An employer is likely to fire a driver after they’ve received a DUI conviction, and after the year suspension, the driver may have difficulty finding a new employer willing to hire a driver with a recent DUI. This can be even more costly for drivers who had purchased their own equipment in order to better manage their expenses and potential income.

Defending Against Commercial DUIs

A DUI charge isn’t an open-and-shut case. With the right defense, you can explore all angles of your case and get the best representation available. At JacksonWhite Law, we do just that.

Our defense team will work to get your sentence reduced or your charges dropped, if there’s errors in the prosecutor’s case.  No matter what the situation, having the right team in your corner can make all the difference in minimizing the impact of your DUI.


Call the JacksonWhite Criminal Law team at (480) 467-4370 to discuss your case today.

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