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Federal Criminal Code Chapter 17A – Common Carrier Operation Under the Influence of Alcohol or Drugs

On Behalf of | Feb 8, 2021 | Federal Crimes

If you have ever taken a bus, a taxicab, a cruise ship, a commercial plane, a passenger train, or even bought something online, you have used the services of common carriers. Simply put, a common carrier is an entity that transports individuals or materials from one place to another in exchange for a fee. A few examples of a common carrier include:

  • Freight companies (ex: FedEx, DHL, UPS, etc.);
  • Taxicab companies (ex: Yellow Cab, Uber, Lyft, etc.);
  • Bus companies;
  • Public trains;
  • Public airlines (ex: American Airlines, Emirates, Cathay Pacific Airways, etc.);
  • Cruise ships; and
  • Moving companies.

Common carriers usually shoulder the accountability for whatever happens to the people or goods that they are transporting; this explains why we normally trust them to transport us or our belongings safely. 

In other words, the responsibilities of common carrier operators are heavy. They must not be reckless; otherwise, they could be facing serious legal consequences. For instance, driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol while directing or operating a common carrier is a violation of Federal Criminal Code Chapter 17A. 

Now, simply stating ‘drunkness’ as a reason for prosecution is too vague — which is why the law imposes specific standards to help law enforcers identify whether or not a common carrier is guilty of violating Federal Criminal Code Chapter 17A. Technically, you will be presumed under the influence of drug or alcohol if:

  • Your Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) is 0.10 or more; and/or
  • The amount of drug substance in your body would be sufficient to impair the five senses, mental processes, and physical movement of an average individual.

Take note that there are different types of drugs; three grams of cocaine could already be a lethal dose, but the same cannot always be said for other drugs such as tylenol. Therefore, the case is often more complicated when it comes to drug influence. 

Related Offenses

There are a few related violations to Federal Criminal Code Chapter 17A, such as:

  • Reckless driving;
  • Vehicular manslaughter; and
  • Liquor traffic.


If you operate or direct a common carrier while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, you may face the following penalties:

  • Up to $10,000 in fines; and/or
  • Imprisonment for not more than 5 years.

Keep in mind, however, that additional penalties may be imposed should you be found guilty of other charges.

We Handle Federal Charges

If you or a loved one is currently facing a charge under Federal Criminal Code Chapter 17A, we’d like to extend our help to you. Our criminal defense attorneys bring more than four decades of professional experience as well as the commitment to give you the best results possible. We will stop at nothing to protect your rights and freedom. Give us a call for a consultation on your case.