It is no secret that an arrest for driving while impaired in North Carolina can have serious consequences for the driver accused of drunk driving. When the holder of a commercial driver’s license is arrested for DWI, the issue can have significant impact on the driver’s livelihood. However, the North Carolina Court of Appeals recently ruled that a one-year revocation of a CDL following a DWI arrest is sufficiently punitive to bar a later prosecution in criminal court on DWI charges.
On the Fourth of July in 2010, a truck driver was arrested for DWI while driving a non-commercial vehicle in Duplin County, North Carolina. Following that arrest, a Duplin County Magistrate seized the trucker’s CDL and revoked the commercial license for 30 days under North Carolina law.
The driver reportedly did not challenge that revocation order within the 10 day time frame to contest the revocation. Slightly more than two weeks later, the man received notice from the state that his CDL was disqualified for one year under North Carolina law.
Generally, courts have construed such license revocations as civil in nature. By August, the man had paid the civil revocation fees and retrieved his CDL, but he was prohibited from lawfully driving a commercial vehicle until the end of the CDL disqualification, which was one year after the DWI arrest on July 4, 2011. The man was transferred to a different job during the summer of 2010, but eventually lost that job in a staffing cut.
The man later challenged his DWI charges in criminal court, including a DWI defense argument that the CDL revocation of one year bars a later prosecution for DWI in criminal Court. In the next post, this blog will continue discussing how the courts have handled the Double Jeopardy argument.
- Jacksonville Daily News, “Court: Prosecuting truck drivers who lose CDL for DWI is double jeopardy,” Lindell Kay, Feb. 24, 2013
- North Carolina Court of Appeals, “State v. McKenzie, No. COA12-436, Jan. 15, 2013