Commercial Driver DUI
You may need your commercial driver’s license to keep your family afloat financially. Losing your commercial driver’s license can mean that you will struggle to pay rent or your mortgage, or even to buy groceries. Drunk or drugged driving can threaten the license upon which you rely for work. A commercial driver DUI is serious. If you were charged with drunk driving and you have a CDL, you should discuss your situation with the Michigan DUI lawyers at Michigan Defense Law. By providing legal representation, guidance, and possibly reducing the severity of the charges or penalties, a skilled DUI attorney may be able to alleviate the burden on the accused in an OWI case.
If you are a commercial driver in Michigan, the state strictly regulates what your blood alcohol content can be. You can be convicted of Operating While Visibly Impaired or Operating While Intoxicated if you were operating your vehicle with a blood alcohol content that is greater than .04%. The normal legal limit is .08%. A conviction for any sort of DUI, including operating while visibly impaired, will result in an automatic suspension of your commercial driver’s license for at least a year. No exceptions are made. This is not something a friendly judge can help you with. If the conviction goes on your record your CDL is suspended by the computer system as an administrative matter under the law. A crucial distinction many CDL holders do not realize is that your commercial driver’s license will be suspended even if you were driving your own vehicle, rather than the commercial vehicle for work, when you were arrested or convicted of a DUI.
A suspension of your commercial driver’s license means that your privilege is taken away for a period of time, but it is automatically returned to you upon completion of your suspension period. A revocation of your commercial driver’s license is more serious than having it suspended. To get your commercial driver’s license back once it has been revoked, you will need to start over again. You will need to apply again and go through the application process in the same way that you did when you first applied for a commercial driver’s license.
Michigan’s state laws impose stricter safety standards for commercial drivers than regular driver’s license holders, making it easier for CDL holders to break the law and potentially receive a DUI conviction. During a traffic stop in Michigan, drivers are subject to implied consent laws that permit authorities to conduct alcohol testing. Refusing the test may result in a 24-hour license suspension, which can significantly affect work schedules.
A DUI conviction for CDL holders carries severe consequences, including a maximum fine of $500, up to 93 days in jail, and a one-year CDL suspension. Subsequent DUI convictions for CDL holders may result in a fine of up to $1,000, a prison sentence, and loss of the CDL for up to 10 years. It is worth noting that these fines do not encompass the cost of regaining a CDL after a DUI conviction.
Furthermore, those convicted will receive six points on their driving record, which may complicate the license restoration process if there are additional points on record for previous driving offenses. Even if an individual is eligible to have their license reinstated after a one-year suspension, they may struggle to find a similar paying position to the one they lost when the DUI occurred. Employers frequently reject candidates for driving positions based on the number of points on their licenses.
Obviously, defending an OWI involving a commercial driver’s license is of the utmost importance to our clients. We fully appreciate the serious ramifications to the livelihood of our client. If you are facing this situation, it is very important that your criminal defense attorney be experienced in DUI defense and have a thorough understanding of all the areas that may present a defense. In some situations, if a strong defense can be mounted the prosecutors will consider plea bargains not usually given in OWI cases. If a case can be removed from the OWI category it is possible to save the CDL. But this doesn’t happen without the development of a strong, legitimate issue. Spotting these issues in what looks like an otherwise strong case requires skills and experience not possessed by most firms. At Michigan Defense Law we have decades of experience defending OWI cases and take pride in being able to spot issues that exist. Oftentimes, these issues are spotted on the police videos, and they are developed by filing motions to suppress evidence or dismiss the case, prior to a trial. The earlier that our firm gets involved, the more easily that we can build a defense. All the aspects of a commercial driver’s license DUI need to be examined closely.
Sometimes a strong defense can be built around a constitutional or procedural misstep. For instance, you should only be pulled over by a police officer if he has a reasonable suspicion that a civil infraction has occurred. A reasonable suspicion needs to be more than a hunch or instinct; it should be based on a specific reason that the officer can articulate. If you were stopped without reasonable suspicion, we will contest that issue. Winning that issue results in the dismissal of the case.
Similarly, an officer must have probable cause to arrest you for the DUI. If an officer did not have probable cause to arrest you, it may be appropriate to file a motion to suppress evidence obtained after the arrest. For instance, if you performed well on all field sobriety tests but were still arrested there may be an available challenge. Also, we examine whether there is any basis to get the results of a chemical test suppressed. Often, this can be key evidence in the prosecutor’s case, and if the prosecutor does not have it for trial, they may be more inclined to dismiss your case or agree to a plea deal. Where there is a strong challenge to the evidence a plea bargain to get your DUI reduced to a non-alcohol-related offense, such as reckless driving, can sometimes occur. It may be appropriate to try to negotiate a plea deal in which you plead guilty to an alternative charge in order to avoid the impact of the DUI. In other cases, however, your best option may be to go to trial. Whatever needs to be done, we have the experience and training to help you through this situation.
Your job is vital to you. In most cases, truck drivers and other commercial drivers do not have a substantial amount saved when their income stream is under threat. Accordingly, if you have been charged with a commercial driver DUI in Michigan, you should talk to our seasoned attorneys about your situation. Michigan Defense Law represents clients in Oakland, Wayne, Macomb, and Washtenaw Counties. Contact us at (248) 451-2200 or use our online form.