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Commercial DWI

It takes only half the blood-alcohol level required for a normal DWI (driving while intoxicated) to result in a per se conviction for DWI while driving a commercial vehicle in New York. 

A commercial DWI conviction may result in the suspension of a commercial driver’s license (CDL) for at least a year, and possibly for life. Penalties under Section 1192 of the New York Vehicle and Traffic Law (VTL) statutes depend on the type of vehicle involved, the blood-alcohol level of the driver, and the age of the driver. 

In many cases, even a first offense will be a felony and can result in years in prison, even if no accident occurred or nobody was hurt.

DWI Lawyer for a CDL Driver in Manhattan

At Greco Neyland, PC, our dedicated attorneys will explain the ramifications of a commercial DWI charge and fight for you while seeking the best possible result for your commercial DWI case.

Greco Neyland, PC will challenge evidence, including the traffic stop itself as well as the results of DWI testing. Your charges could be reduced, dismissed or you could be acquitted. We will fight for you every step of the way, including assisting you with license suspension hearings. You need a skilled Manhattan commercial DWI lawyer with experience as a prosecutor on your side.

Call Greco Neyland, PC at (212) 951-1300 today to set up a free consultation. We represent clients throughout Manhattan, Brooklyn, and all five boroughs of New York City.


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Information Center for Commercial DWI in New York


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Commercial DWI in New York

Even if your blood-alcohol level, (also known as BAC, or blood-alcohol content) is under 0.08, you may still be charged with commercial DWI under N.Y. VTL § 1192.5 if your blood-alcohol level is 0.04 or above. You will be charged with commercial DWI as a level I offense if your blood-alcohol level is between 0.04 and 0.06. If you are under 21 years old, you will be charged with commercial DWI as a level I offense if your blood-alcohol level is between 0.02 and 0.06. 

This is a traffic infraction punishable by:

  • Up to 15 days in jail; and/or
  • A fine of $300 to $500.

You will be charged with commercial DWI as a level 2 offense if your blood-alcohol level is more than 0.06 but less than 0.08. This is a misdemeanor punishable by:

  • Up to 180 days in jail;  and/or
  • A fine of $500 to $1500.

If you have two prior DWI violations, this offense is upgraded to a class E felony, punishable by:

  • One to four years in prison; and/or
  • A fine of $1,000 to $5,000.

If you have three or more prior DWI violations, this offense is upgraded to a class D felony, punishable by:

  • One to seven years in prison; and/or
  • A fine of $2,000 to $10,000.

Like any DWI or DWAI (driving while ability impaired), a commercial DWI or DWAI conviction carries several additional conditions, including:

  • Ineligible for unconditional discharge;
  • Conditional discharge or probation must be accompanied by a fine; and/or
  • Possibility of mandatory victim impact class.

A commercial driver may be stopped and arrested for commercial DWI not only on public roadways, but also on private roads open to motor vehicle traffic, and parking lots.

A “parking lot” is defined as any area of private property, including driveways, which is accessible from a public roadway, which has a capacity to park at least four vehicles, and the property does not contain a one- or two-family residence. Thus, if you are drinking in your vehicle while you wait in the parking lot for the vehicle to be loaded, you can be arrested and charged with DWI even if you are on private property and not on a road.


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CDL Suspension in New York

Your CDL can be suspended in New York for any if the following reasons:

  • You had a blood-alcohol level of 0.04 or more while driving a commercial vehicle
  • Your regular driver’s license was suspended due to a DWI or DWAI while driving a personal or other noncommercial vehicle
  • You refused a breathalyzer or other blood-alcohol level test, regardless of whether you were driving a commercial vehicle or your personal vehicle

For all categories of commercial DWI, if it was your first offense, your CDL will be suspended under N.Y. VTL § 1192.10 for a period of one year, unless you were carrying hazardous materials, in which case the suspension will last for three years.

If you had a prior conviction, a second offense will result in permanent revocation of your CDL. Your CDL may be suspended permanently even if this was your first DWI conviction if you have a prior “major traffic offense” such as leaving the scene of an accident, even if you were driving a personal vehicle at the time of the incident.

N.Y. VTL § 1192.10 states that only your license to drive commercial vehicles is suspended for this length of time, and requires the state to issue you a regular driver’s license immediately when you are otherwise eligible for one. The reverse does not apply: if your regular driver’s license is suspended or revoked, your CDL is, too. 

If you receive a hardship license or a pre-conviction conditional license, this will only allow you to drive personal and other noncommercial vehicles; it does not allow you to operate commercial vehicles.

According to federal requirements, the time period of CDL suspension begins after conviction.  If your CDL was revoked for a time period while awaiting trial, this time does not count towards your CDL suspension period. For example, if you are arrested on July 1 and convicted on September 1, your CDL will be suspended until September of the following year, even though you have been unable to drive since your arrest in July.

In all cases, the special punishments for commercial DWI come in addition to, not instead of, the penalties associated with a DWI conviction. If convicted of commercial DWI, you face the same jail time, fines, and revocation of your driver’s license (not just your CDL) as you would if you got a DWI in your personal vehicle under the same circumstances.


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Enhanced Penalties for Certain Commercial Vehicles in New York

A commercial DWI or DWAI may be upgraded to a felony in some cases due to the type of vehicle involved. A felony may also depend on the age of the driver.

If you are impaired by alcohol (DWAI), regardless of your blood-alcohol level, a conviction under N.Y. VTL § 1192.1 while operating a motor vehicle with a gross vehicle weight rating of more than 18,000 pounds which contains flammable gas, radioactive materials or explosives may result in:

  • Jail time and/or
  • A fine of $500 to $1,500

A DWI while operating a motor vehicle with a gross vehicle weight rating of more than 18,000 pounds which contains flammable gas, radioactive materials or explosives is a Class E Felony, although it will not count as a prior or predicate felony in some circumstances.  Conviction will result in:

  • One to four years in prison and/or
  • A minimum fine of $1,000

If the driver of such a vehicle is under the age of 21, it becomes a class D felony, punishable by:

  • One to seven years in prison and/or
  • A fine of $2,000 to $10,000

A DWI with a school bus that is carrying at least one student passenger is a class E felony punishable by:

  • One to four years in prison and/or
  • A fine of $1,000 to $5,000

If the school bus driver is under 21, a DWI with a school bus that is carrying at least one student passenger is a class D felony punishable by:

  • One to seven years in prison and/or
  • A fine of $2,000 to $10,000

If a person under the age of 21 is driving a commercial vehicle with a blood-alcohol level of 0.02 or higher, but under 0.08, and is operating a commercial motor vehicle, or any motor vehicle registered or that could be registered under N.Y. VTL § 401.7 Schedule F, this is a class E felony and punishable by:

  • One to four years in prison and/or
  • A fine of $1,000 to $5,000

The commercial vehicles listed in N.Y. VTL § 401.7 Schedule F consist mainly of construction and industrial vehicles, including any:

  • Road roller
  • Tractor crane
  • Truck crane
  • Power shovel
  • Road building machine
  • Snow plow
  • Road sweeper
  • Sand spreader
  • Mobile car crusher (whether self-propelled or a combination used exclusively as one unit)
  • Earth mover, defined as a motor-driven vehicle in excess of eight feet in width equipped with pneumatic tires designed and constructed for moving or transporting earth and rock in connection with excavation and grading work
  • Truck with small wheels used in a factory, warehouse or railroad station

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Defenses to Commercial DWI Charges in New York City

Some defenses may be available to you if you are charged with commercial DWI in New York.  Some evidence is unfair to use against you in court. For example, the breathalyzer or blood test may have been administered improperly, or police may have obtained evidence illegally. In such a case, the prosecution should not be allowed to use that evidence against you in court.


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Resources Related to Commercial DWI in New York City

New York Vehicle and Traffic Law, Title VII, Article 31, Section 1192 — Read the state laws pertaining to operating a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs, including Subsection 5, which directly addresses drivers of commercial vehicles.

New York State Police Traffic Safety — The New York State Police patrol the state’s roads and highways. NYSP officers can also conduct DWI checkpoints and patrols, which can have a special focus on commercial vehicles in some instances.

Manhattan NYSP Troop HQ
1 Wards Meadow Loop
New York, NY 10035
Phone: (917) 492-7100

New York DMV Penalties for Alcohol or Drug-Related Violations — The Department of Motor Vehicles provides information on penalties for drunk and drugged driving, including violations with commercial vehicles.

Stop DWI Criminal Justice Task Force — At the website for the Bronx District Attorney’s Office you can learn more about the Criminal Court Bureau’s continued collaboration with NYPD and the New York City Department of Transportation (DOT). Find information on the state-funded Stop DWI program, which operates in Manhattan and the rest of New York City and targets commercial vehicles as well as others. The Stop DWI Criminal Justice Task Form includes representatives from each of the City District Attorney’s Offices, the New York City Police Collision Investigators and DWI NYPD enforcement officers to work together on citywide commercial DWI enforcement.


Find a Commercial DWI Attorney in Manhattan

If you have been arrested for commercial DWI, you should have an advocate on your side who will fight hard for the best possible result for you.

Contact a skilled New York City commercial DWI lawyer at Greco Neyland, PC. We will explore every possible avenue to defend your case, and do whatever is possible to prevent you from losing your CDL. Call (212) 951-1300 today to set up a free consultation.

This article was last updated on Friday, May 27, 2016.

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