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Drinking, Driving and your CDL
While criminal and civil penalties for drunk driving, including the loss of driving privileges, are harsh in Michigan for ordinary motorists, they are devastating for a person who holds a CDL. The driver who holds a CDL is held to a higher standard. In Michigan the unlawful blood alcohol level for an ordinary licensed driver is .08. However, for a CDL holder who is operating a Commercial Motor Vehicle at the time, the unlawful blood alcohol level is .04!
A conviction for drinking and driving for a CDL holder, even while driving a non-CMV, is far more serious than for an ordinary driver. An ordinary driver who is convicted of Operating While Intoxicated (OWI, the current term for drunk driving in Michigan) as a first offender has their licence “suspended” for six months. This means 30days with absolutely no driving and 150 days of driving with restrictions. If the ordinary driver is convicted of Operating While Visibly Impaired (OWVI) as a first offense, then there is generally just a 90 day restricted licence. OWVI is generally the result of a plea bargain so that drivers can maintain some of their driving privileges (preventing a revocation) and that courts and prosecutors can process drinking and driving cases quickly.
A CDL holder who is convicted of OWI first offense in a non CMV finds their CDL suspended - no restrictions - for the full 6 months. A CDL holder who is convicted of OWVI first offense in a non-CMV finds their CDL suspended - no restrictions - for 90 days. The penalties are even more severe if the drinking and driving occurs while operating a CMV. According to Michigan Complied Laws 257.319b a CDL holder who is convicted of drinking and driving a CMV gets an immediate suspension - no restrictions - for a full year! After the one year period is up the former CDL holder must reapply for their CDL, retaking both the driving and written tests.
If you are a CDL holder, regardless of whether the violation occurs while you are operating a CMV or a personal vehicle, the penalties are severe. Do not try to proceed in this area without an experienced criminal defense attorney who understands the serious legal ramifications not just of a drunk driving conviction, but for someone with a CDL as well. Your freedom and livelihood depend on it.