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Driving under the influence (DUI) charges are always serious — but that goes doubly so if you happen to be a commercial driver. Your commercial driver’s license (CDL) and entire career could be over with a conviction.

Drivers with their CDL are held to higher safety standards than drivers with a regular license simply because commercial vehicles can cause devastating accidents so much more easily. If you’re driving your rig, you’re automatically considered “under the influence” when your blood alcohol content (BAC) is .04% — or half of what it takes to be officially inebriated if you have a regular license. Refuse to submit to a BAC test, and it’s the same as pleading guilty to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).

Even if you are driving your own vehicle at the time of your arrest, your CDL license will be affected by a conviction. You also need to keep in mind — in case you are traveling out-of-state this Christmas season and are thinking about having a cup or two of holiday cheer — that your own state will eventually be notified if you are convicted.

Naturally, the smart choice is always to avoid drinking or using any kind of drug that could potentially cause an impairment, including cold medications and allergy pills, if you plan to be behind the wheel. If you make a mistake, however, remember that you need to act quickly in order to mount an effective defense. If you’re a CDL driver who has been charged with any kind of a DUI, talk to an attorney who has experience in these kinds of cases right away.