SD Supreme Court issues DUI opinion affecting CDL drivers

What looked like a straightforward traffic ticket ultimately destroyed a truck driver’s livelihood.On March 16, 2016, the South Dakota Supreme Court issued an opinion that should send an important message to CDL drivers everywhere.

Mr. Kaufman, a man with a Nebraska commercial drivers license (CDL), was arrested for DUI. He pleaded guilty and was sentenced. No one in court advised him that a DUI conviction would impact his Nebraska CDL. He lost his CDL for life. Although the SD Supreme Court likely empathized with how one mistake could destroy a man’s entire career, it simply lacked the jurisdiction (i.e. the power) to do anything to help him after the fact. Courts can not act without the legal power to do so. In this case, it was too late; the damage was done. There was nothing he could do about it anymore.

South Dakota has similar rules regarding CDLs. If you are convicted of a driving while under the influence charge, your CDL could be at risk. The legal limit in South Dakota is 0.08% blood alcohol content (BAC). If you have a CDL, it might be a good idea to visit with an attorney about your rights so that you know what to do before you are accused of DUI. Every citizen, guilty or innocent, has certain rights. Those rights should be fully understood and enjoyed by every truck driver. Livelihoods depend on it.

Be Proactive about your CDL

Do your homework. Know your rights. A lawyer can advise you what to do to minimize the risks associated with having a CDL before you’ve been pulled over. If your living depends on driving, it is extremely important to discuss any significant driving citations with an attorney.  If you’ve already been cited, then you should weigh your options carefully. Helsper, McCarty and Rasmussen represents individuals, particularly those with CDLs, regarding DUI defense.

Source: State v. Kaufman, 2016 SD 24 (pdf)