Firefighters, DMV and DUI
Effective January 1, 2011, the California DMV discontinued issuing Commercial Driver Licenses to firefighters. Instead, firefighters must apply for a firefighter endorsement. Applicants applying for a firefighter endoresement must apply in person at a local DMV field office after meeting all requirements including certification of employment as a firefighter, certification of completion of fire equipment operation training and signature of the department fire chief. A written test, a drive test and submission of a completed medical examination report may also be required.
Because firefighters will now have a noncommercial Class C driver license with a firefighter endorsement, rather than a Class A or B commercial license, this has ramifications should a firefighter be arrested for a DUI in California. Under the previous law, firefighters faced a one year suspension of their commercial license if convicted of a DUI. This often led to loss of employment. Under the new law, because firefighters will have a Class C license, a DUI conviction would lead to a six month suspension but with the option of reinstatement on a restricted license to enable work related driving.
Conditions of reinstatement would include enrollment in a three month alcohol program and filing of an SR22. In Los Angeles County, installation of an Ignition Interlock Device per the DMV pilot program would present an additional hurdle for firefighters. This presents the possibility that firefighters would be able to continue in employment and continue driving firefighting equipment following a DUI conviction.
If you are a firefighter charged with a DUI in Southern California, please contact Los Angeles and Orange County DUI lawyers Gold & Witham for further information.