N.J.S.A. 39:3-10.13 prohibits the operation of a commercial vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration (“BAC”) of 0.04% or more. The statute provides as follows:
Notwithstanding any other provision of law to the contrary, a person shall not operate a commercial motor vehicle in this State with an alcohol concentration of 0.04% or more, or while under the influence of a controlled substance.
Under this statute, it is illegal to operate a commercial vehicle in New Jersey with a BAC of 0.04% or more. It is also a violation to operate a commercial vehicle while under the influence of a controlled substance. Clearly, the Legislature’s intent in enacting this law was to discourage even modest consumption of alcohol by people who operate commercial vehicles within the state. To be sure, under NJ’s general DUI statute, N.J.S.A. 39:4-50, a per se DUI conviction requires a BAC of at least 0.08%. The threshold BAC for the operator of a commercial vehicle is significantly lower, at 0.04%.
While there is a fair amount of interplay between the statutes prohibiting operation of a commercial vehicle while intoxicated and the general DUI statute, it bears noting that under certain circumstances, operators of commercial vehicles can be convicted for violating both of these statutes. This is because the general DUI statute not only prohibits operation of a motor vehicle with a BAC of 0.08% or more, but also bans the operation of a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol – regardless of BAC. Thus, an operator of a commercial vehicle could hypothetically have a BAC over 0.04%, but below 0.08%, yet still exhibit a sufficient lack of mental and physical capacities that would qualify them for conviction under both the statute prohibiting operation of a commercial vehicle while intoxicated and the general DUI statute.