An OWI while operating a commercial vehicle has severe consequences.

The driver of commercial motor vehicles (CMVs), such as trucks and vans, must have a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL). An OWI in a commercial vehicle has serious consequences.

Michigan Criminal Defense Attorneys - Group

Most Commercial Drivers Must Have a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL).

Everyone does or should understand the danger of driving intoxicated. However, the danger is more significant if a truck driver operates while impaired. The law recognizes the increased risk with a truck or other commercial motor vehicle. Therefore, it provides strict penalties and license sanctions for CDL Operating While Intoxicated (OWI) in a commercial motor vehicle (CMV).

Persons who can pass the CDL knowledge and skills test the Secretary of State requires can obtain a CDL. There is no requirement to take a class or training program; if you pass the test, you may get a CDL. A person must be 21 years old to drive a CMV across state lines or transport hazardous materials. They must be 18 years old if the driver stays within state lines and does not transport hazardous materials. Additionally, all people seeking a CDL must obtain and keep a medical examiner’s certificate, proving they are in acceptable physical and mental condition. Getting a CDL with an Operating While Intoxicated on your record can be challenging, to say the least.

Who must possess a CDL?

CDLs are required for anyone who:

  • Operates a vehicle with a gross weight of 26,001 pounds or more;
  • Tows a trailer or other vehicle with a gross weight of 10,001 pounds or more;
  • Drives a vehicle transporting 16 people or more (including the driver);
  • Operates a CMV carrying hazardous materials.

A 24-hour “out-of-service order” (no operating a CMV for at least 24 hours) will be issued if a CDL driver:

  • Refuses a preliminary breath test (PBT);
  • Consumes alcohol within four (4) hours of operating a CMV;
  • Consumes alcohol while operating a CMV;
  • Has a bodily alcohol content of 0.04 or higher (as opposed to 0.08 for an operator’s license)

All non-CDL rules and punishments still apply to any intoxicated or impaired driving. As with an operator or chauffeur driver’s license, CDL drivers are deemed to have consented to take a PBT if a police officer requests it. Of course, it is also illegal for anyone, including CDL holders, to drive while impaired by drugs. CDL Operating While Intoxicated (OWI) charges can result from operating under the influence of drugs, alcohol, or a combination of drugs and alcohol.

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Noteworthy Ramifications to a CDL of Driving While Intoxicated (OWI or DUI)

The penalties for CDL drivers are severe. If convicted of refusing a PBT or a first-offense OWI, Michigan will suspend your CDL for a year. If you were driving a truck carrying hazardous materials when stopped, there is a 3-year suspension for a PBT refusal or OWI conviction. If you get a second or third drinking and driving offense, Michigan will revoke your CDL for 10 years.

These suspensions and revocations are mandatory. No appeal or restricted license is available as with operator’s licenses; a professional CDL driver’s livelihood will be “grounded” for at least a year. As stated above, possibly three (3) years or 10 years.

Even if you were not driving a CMV and were driving your personal automobile while intoxicated, the CDL penalties still apply because the law presumes you can’t be trusted when driving a CMV.

These penalties would be harsh for any driver, CDL or not. But with a CDL, a person’s job and livelihood are on the line. Such penalties could result in a loss of a business or the CMVs due to a lack of income from transporting things. For some, it can cause a loss of business and bankruptcy.

Because CDL Operating While Intoxicated penalties are potentially disastrous for a commercial truck driver, every possible defense must be explored. The stakes are high, and a defense lawyer must be experienced, aggressive, and willing to do whatever it takes to get their client every possible advantage in the case.

Criminal Penalties for Operating While Intoxicated with a CDL

Drunken driving penalties have become very severe in the past few years in Michigan.

  • First Offense OWI with a CDL: The maximum jail sentence is 93 days with up to two (2) years of probation.
  • Second Offense CDL Operating While Intoxicated: The maximum possible sentence is one year for a second offense within seven (7) years. There is a mandatory minimum of five (5) days, with up to two (2) years of probation.
  • Third Offense in a Lifetime, with a CDL: The maximum possible sentence is five (5) years in prison and up to five (5) years on probation.

Defenses to Operating a CDL While Intoxicated

As with any OWI case, obtaining the best defense attorney you can find for CDL Operating While Intoxicated charges is imperative. An attorney’s experience with OWI cases is critically important. Still, you must ensure the attorney is familiar with defending CDL drinking and driving cases because they have different proofs and penalties that reach into a person’s ability to earn a living. Many of the defenses to CDL intoxicated driving cases overlap with common operator license defenses and can include:

  • Faulty field sobriety tests;
  • Faulty PBT and Intoxilyzer 9000 results;
  • Failure to follow PBT and Intoxilyzer 9000 administrative procedures;
  • Lack of probable cause for police to make a stop;
  • Inability to establish alcohol level at the time of driving;
  • No actual “operating”;
  • Inadmissibility and suppression of alleged statements or confessions.
Michigan Criminal Defense Attorney

CDL Operating While Intoxicated Defense Lawyers

No matter how hopeless a case may seem to a client, we always find a way to make it better if we cannot find a way to make it go away. Even if it is impossible to have a CDL Operating While Intoxicated dismissed and thrown out of court, we will find a way to lessen the potential penalties and impacts on a client’s life because we leave no stone unturned in fighting for our clients.

If it was not apparent from the start, it should be clear that a novice attorney or one who “dabbles” in criminal law or is a bargain-priced lawyer can cost you your career and life as you know it. Don’t trust your fate to the lowest bidder. It is as simple as that. You do not want to have your future in the hands of someone who does not have a track record of successfully defending clients facing CDL Operating While Intoxicated charges.

The devoted, experienced, and passionate OWI defense attorneys at LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C. have successfully represented thousands of clients on felony and misdemeanor charges, including defending and protecting clients’ CDL licenses throughout Michigan. We are well-known for providing the highest caliber defense and aggressive representation while showing empathy and personal concern for each client. Call us for a free consultation to discuss your case. We will find a way to help you!

Call us today at (248) 263-6800 for a free consultation or complete an online Request for Assistance Form. We will contact you promptly and find a way to help you.

We will find a way to help you and, most importantly,
we are not afraid to win!

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