Commercial vehicle operators are a vital part of our national economy, performing the critical tasks associated with the transportation of goods, fuel and other important commodities across the country. Despite their usefulness, commercial vehicle operation comes with significant risk, as accidents involving these trucks and semi-tractor trailers can be catastrophic due to their sheer size and weight. Accordingly, the operation of these vehicles is heavily regulated, including the use of alcohol by commercial drivers. This is particularly true in Michigan, which has some of the harshest drunk driving laws in the country for Commercial Drivers License (CDL) holders.

Unlike most states, when a CDL holder gets a DUI in a private vehicle, they are charged with a commercial DUI even though they were not operating a commercial vehicle at the time. This means that their drivers license will be revoked for a minimum of a year, with no exceptions. It is for this reason that choosing the right drunk driving attorney is so critical. Unlike most other individuals, when a CDL holder loses their license as a result of a DUI, they are no longer able to work and lose their source of income.

Penalties for Commercial Drivers DUI

A flat nose commercial semi truck driving at night with its lights on, symbolizing truckers driving their vehicles after a late night at the bar

As mentioned previously, commercial drivers are held to a considerably higher standard than regular drivers and operators of non-commercial vehicles. The state is abnormally harsh with CDL infractions, and will not hesitate to suspend an individual’s Commercial Drivers License for a wide range of different violations. Formally known as an Out-Of-Service Order, this CDL suspension can be caused by the following alcohol related infractions:

  • Operating a commercial vehicle within four hours of consuming alcohol
  • Simultaneously operating a commercial vehicle and consuming alcohol
  • Registering a BAC of 0.015% or higher while operating a commercial vehicle
  • Declining a PBT (preliminary breath test)

A CDL suspension or revocation can also have a direct effect on an individual’s private drivers license eligibility depending on the severity of the offense. This compounds the individuals situation by making it an additional struggle to find alternative employment after they lose their position as a commercial driver. Because of the severity of this situation, it is absolutely vital that any CDL holders facing drunk driving charges seek out the best possible OWI defense firm in order to protect themselves from losing their livelihoods and even possibly their main mode of personal transportation.

What Happens When CDL holder Receives DUI in Private Vehicle

Unlike most states, Michigan treats DUIs committed by CDL holders operating their private vehicles in the same manner as if they were operating commercial vehicles. This comes as a surprise to most individuals as the majority of states handle charges differently depending on whether or not the CDL holder was actually operating a commercial vehicle at the time of their drunk driving arrest. Unfortunately, this fact usually only becomes revealed after a commercial driver receives an OWI charge in Michigan.

Commercial Driver DUI Defense

Commercial DUI is one of the most difficult types of drunk driving charges to defend against, although it is possible to have a successful outcome. Just as in any other type of drunk driving case, a DUI defense attorney will thoroughly examine the prosecutor’s evidence in order to find any potential holes or weak links in their case. While this is not always possible in every case, it is ultimately the possible defense against drunk driving charges for CDL holders since the state does not offer reduced or alternative sentencing for commercial drivers.

Speak with a Skilled Michigan DUI Defense Attorney

It should be abundantly clear for CDL holders that avoiding drunk driving charges should be of the utmost importance. Not only will those convicted of CDL DUI lose their license but they stand a very real chance of losing their livelihoods. Accordingly, it is vital that individuals facing these charges seek out the best possible legal counsel in order to put the odds in their favor.

A competent drunk driving lawyer will be able to analyze the specific circumstances surrounding the case and will discover various ways in which it can be argued against or even dismissed based on technicalities or lack of evidence. The expert attorneys at Kelly and Kelly P.C. have decades of combined experience successfully defending clients who are facing drunk driving and commercial DUI charges. If you are a commercial driver who finds themselves facing drunk driving charges in Michigan, please contact our office today to make the first right step for your future.