Michael C. Hennenberg

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What an OVI stop means for your commercial license

As a professional driver, your license is your livelihood. You spend almost every workday behind the wheel. You need that license to support your family and make your career into everything you worked so hard for it to become. There is no other option. There is no Plan B.

You also know, of course, that driving under the influence is illegal. That's true for all drivers in Ohio. But what does that OVI stop mean for you specifically, as a commercial driver? Here are a few things that you need to know:

  • If a test shows that you have any amount of alcohol in your system, it is mandatory for you to go out of service for the next 24 hours. This is true every time you get stopped. Remember, that means that even a single drink with dinner -- something many people enjoy without thinking twice about it -- could be enough to sideline you for a day. With tight schedules and payments based on miles driven, this can become very, very costly.
  • If your breath test comes in at 0.04%, you lose your license for a year. That's just for your first offense. If it happens again, your career is over. You lose your license for life. Ohio takes this very seriously. Please note that 0.04% is just half of the legal limit of drivers who are not professionals. Commercial drivers are held to a higher standard.
  • The same as the above is true if you have a blood test that comes in at 0.048% or a urine test that comes in at 0.056%. The breath test is the most common way that police test drivers and they can do it at the scene, but it is not the only way. They can order other tests as needed.

Perhaps the most important thing to know is that you can lose your license for driving under the influence in any motor vehicle, not just your commercial vehicle. You lose it for a year for a first offense and life for a second offense after an OVI conviction, for instance, or after a breath test refusal.

Do not make the mistake of thinking you can drive under the influence just because you are in your personal car and you are off the clock. You cannot. Any conviction can impact your career, and you must keep that in mind every single time that you drink.

Your defense options

As you can see, Ohio has some strict drunk driving laws for commercial drivers, and you have a lot at stake. Make very sure that you are aware of your legal defense options.

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Michael C. Hennenberg
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Mayfield Heights
Cleveland, OH 44124

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