Criminal Violations Involving a Commercial Driver’s License
People who drive commercial vehicles as part of a business operation have special, strict rules which apply to driving violations. If you have a CDL and have been cited or charged with a traffic violation, your career and livelihood may depend on how experienced and astute your defense attorney is.
CDLs are required for most commercial drivers.
CDLs may only be obtained by any person who can pass the CDL knowledge and skills test required by the Secretary of State. 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 Commercial Motor Vehicle (CMV) across state lines or transport hazardous materials, and 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 with them a medical examiner’s certificate, proving they are in acceptable physical and mental condition. Criminal violations involving a CDL can have a tragic impact on a person’s career, and a defense lawyer must do everything humanly possible to get charges dismissed or reduced.
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);
- Drives a CMV carrying hazardous materials.
Alcohol-Related Violations with a CDL
There are many alcohol-related violations involving a CDL; some are criminal, and some are not. A criminal conviction related to a CMV can result in jail, probation, and loss or suspension of the driver’s commercial driver’s license. Also, most criminal CDL violations cannot be expunged in Michigan.
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 4 hours of operating a CMV;
- Consumes alcohol while operating a CMV;
- Has a bodily alcohol content of .015 or more.
Suspensions and Revocations in Addition to a 24-Hour Out of Service Order:
- First Offense OWI or PBT Refusal: 1-year suspension of CDL;
- First Offense OWI While Transporting Hazardous Material: 3-year CDL suspension;
- Second or Third OWI: 10-year revocation of CDL.
It should be noted these punitive actions by the Secretary of State are mandatory. The driver cannot go to the Secretary of State or a court and appeal or seek restricted driving privileges for most criminal violations involving a CDL.
Serious Traffic Violations with a CDL
Traffic violation penalties are divided into 2 categories, Category I and Category II. Category II violations tend to be more serious and have more severe consequences. Because of the public safety implications of commercial driver’s license violations, criminal prosecutors tend to be unyielding. Judges seek to impose harsh penalties that will serve as a deterrent to other operators with a CDL.
Category I Violations:
- A violation resulting in death; Speeding 15 MPH or more over the limit;
- Following too closely;
- Careless Driving;
- Changing or using lanes erratically or improperly.
If convicted, your CDL will be suspended for 60 days for any two violations in separate incidents in three years or suspended for 120 days for any three or more violations in separate incidents in three years. Additionally, points may be added to your driving record.
Category II Violations:
- Operating Under the Influence of a Controlled Substance;
- Leaving the scene of a CMV accident;
- Committing a felony using a CMV;
- Fleeing and Eluding a Police Officer (felony).
A CDL will be suspended for 1 year for a first offense (3 years if transporting hazardous materials) and revoked for 10 years for any 2 violations within any time period. If convicted of reckless driving, negligent homicide, or misdemeanor fleeing and eluding a police officer, a CDL will be suspended for 1 year. Felonious controlled substance offenses involving a CMV will result in a 10-year revocation. Criminal violations involving a CDL typically carry heavy driver’s license sanctions.
The stakes are high for those charged with criminal violations involving a CDL.
With most traffic offenses and drinking and driving offenses, a person faces potential jail, thousands of dollars of expenses, counseling, community service, and probation. When it comes to CDL license violations, the stakes include the possibility of losing your career. Obviously, you need to retain the best and most experienced defense attorney you can find in these cases. Saving money in the short term by hiring a bargain attorney will potentially cost you far more in the long run.
The Law Firm That Will Protect Your CDL if You Face a Criminal Violation or Allegation
At LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C., we pride ourselves on our ingenuity and ability to save clients from dire consequences. We know how to fight alcohol-related charges and traffic offenses to render the best results for the client. We know how much your career means to you, and we will do everything possible to protect it. Give us a call. We will explain how we can help you.
Call us today at (248) 263-6800 for a free consultation or complete a Request for Assistance Form. We will contact you promptly and find a way to help you.