Drunk Driving and Commercial Vehicles

Michigan Drunk Driving / CDL Defense Attorneys

Operating a commercial motor vehicle (CMV) requires special skills and knowledge. Before the introduction of the commercial driver license (CDL) program, any person with a regular operator’s license could also legally operate a tractor-trailer in Michigan, even if they did not possess the necessary qualifications.


In 1986, the Commercial Motor Vehicle Safety Act was enacted, with the express intent to insure that only qualified and experienced drivers operated CMVs, and that unqualified or unsafe drivers would be not allowed to do so. Since April 1, 1992, operators of certain CMVs have been required under federal law to have a CDL.


A drunk driving conviction here in Michigan is a serious matter for anyone with a regular operator’s license, as it carries sanctions that include fines and costs, probation, community service, court-ordered treatment, license suspension and even, in some circumstances, jail or prison. Multiple convictions typically increase the penalties, and also result in revocation of the driver’s operator license.


Unfortunately, an Operating While Intoxicated (OWI) conviction can have even harsher consequences if it involves the operation of a vehicle by a person having a CDL. Operating any vehicle, even a private car, while intoxicated or visibly impaired by alcohol; while intoxicated by drugs; while intoxicated by a combination of alcohol and drugs; or with the presence of certain drugs in the driver’s body (even without intoxication), can cost you your CDL for years, and sometimes even for your lifetime, effectively ending your commercial driving career.


If you have a Michigan CDL, you have a lot to lose if you are convicted of drunk driving. This is why you need the best DUI defense you can afford. Additionally, there are other offenses that do not involve intoxication that can interfere with your CDL. With your livelihood as a professional driverr at stake, you want, and need, assistance from the highly experinece, trusted attorneys. Luckily, the experienced drunk driving / CDL attorneys at The Kronzek Firm are here to help! Act now to get a free consultation.


What will happen if I am caught drunk driving in a commercial vehicle or any other vehicle?

Drivers of commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) face more stringent restrictions than regular drivers. Drivers of non-CMVs cannot have a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08 or higher. Under federal law, however, the driver of a CMV cannot have a BAC of .04 or higher. This is a much lower amount of alcohol in the operator’s system than the amount of alcohol allowed in system of a driver of a regular vehicle.


Even though drunk driving seems straightforward, there are many different intoxicated or impaired convictions. The attorneys at The Kronzek Firm are well-versed in all drunk driving laws and will be able to help you no matter what the charges against you may be. Some of the criminal offenses The Kronzek Firm can defend a CMV operator include:


  • Operating with an unlawful bodily alcohol level (UBAL) of .08 grams or more per 100 milliliters of blood, per 210 liters of breath, or per 67 milliliters of urine (or, beginning October 1, 2018, .10 grams or more per 100 milliliters of blood, per 210 liters of breath, or per 67 milliliters of urine);
  • Operating While Intoxicated (OWI) by alcohol;
  • Operating under the influence of drugs (OUID);
  • Operating with the Presence of Drugs (OWPD), generally Schedule
  • Operating while visibly impaired (OWVI) by alcohol;
  • Operating a CDL with a BAC of .04 grams per 100 milliliters of blood, per 210 liters of breath, or per 67 milliliters of urine, or greater;
  • UBAL, OWI, OWVI or OUID causing serious injury or death.


For a first conviction for being under the influence of alcohol, whether operating a CMV or a non-CMV, a CDL holder must be disqualified from operating a CMV for 1 year; a second conviction requires disqualification for life.


For a first conviction for being under the influence of a controlled substance, whether operating a CMV or a non-CMV, a CDL holder must be disqualified from operating a CMV for 1 year; a second conviction requires disqualification for life.


For a first refusal to take an alcohol test under the implied consent laws, whether operating a CMV or a non-CMV, a CDL holder must be disqualified from operating a CMV for 1 year; a second refusal requires disqualification for life.


Other offenses that do not involve intoxication and for which a first conviction results in a 1 year CDL loss, and a second conviction results in CDL disqualification for life, include:

  • Leaving the Scene of an Accident;
  • Using the vehicle to commit a felony (excluding a felony involving controlled substances);
  • Driving a CMV when CDL is revoked or suspended for prior CMV violations;
  • Causing a fatality through the negligent operation of a CMV.


Reinstatement after lifetime disqualification can potentially occur after 10 years if the driver has voluntarily entered, and successfully completed, a state-approved rehabilitation program. However, any driver reinstated in this manner who is subsequently convicted of any of the above offenses will not be reinstated. 


Commercial drivers can also be punished with an “out of service” order. There are many different circumstances that will be cause for issuance of an out of service order:

  • Refusal to take a preliminary breath test (PBT); also, because any holder of a CDL has given implied consent to such testing, and failure to submit to alcohol testing while operating a CMV will result in a CDL loss for a minimum 1 year the first time;
  • Consuming alcohol within 4 hours of driving a CMV;
  • Furthermore, having a BAC of .017 grams or more per 100 milliliters of blood/per 210 liters of breath, or per 67 milliliters of urine; and
  • Consuming alcohol while driving a CMV.

Still there are other consequences you could face as a result of drunk driving. For instance, refusing to undergo a chemical test of an applicable alcohol offense will likely result in a year-long suspension if this is your first offense. If it is found that you were also transporting hazardous materials, then the suspension could be increased to 3 years. Worse yet, a second or third violation will result in revoking your Michigan CDL for a minimum of 10 years in certain circumstances, but in most instances for life.


Will my CDL be revoked if I’m caught drunk driving in my personal vehicle?

Drunk driving is a serious offense, no matter what, when, why or how it has occurred. If you’re convicted of drunk driving and have your personal driver’s license revoked or suspended, then your CDL will be revoked or suspended as well. Typically, commercial driving privileges are revoked or suspended from 90 days up to 5 years. The actual amount of time will depend on current and previous convictions on the individual’s driving record.


You should keep in mind that a commercial driver’s license is a privilege, not a right; it is not something that is owed to you. Also note that points and other applicable fines, mandatory penalties, and other enhancements may be added to an individual’s driving record by the Michigan Secretary of State.


Your CDL Defense Attorneys

A drunk driving conviction can permanently alter your career. To be able to continue your life in your chosen career, you will need the best CDL defense that you can afford. The Kronzek Firm attorneys are ready to provide this for you with our comprehensive approach to criminal defense.


We will help you from start to finish – even before the misdemeanor or felony criminal charges are filed. We will do all we can to work tirelessly to preserve your freedom. We can challenge the accuracy of any chemical test on your behalf and we will help to protect you from long term complications resulting from a conviction.


Police and prosecutors make every effort to convict defendants they believe are guilty. We will work even harder to craft the best defense we can for your case. You deserve great legal protection from proven lawyers. Call us today to set an appointment at 1-(866)-7-NoJail!  

1 866-766-5245  We are available by appointment and are on-call 24/7. In addition, we also assist clients statewide with Driver’s License Restoration and DAAD/DLAD administrative hearings through the Michigan Secretary of State.


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