CDL (Commercial Driver's License) and DUI
Many people hold a Michigan commercial driver’s license, or CDL. For some of these people, the ability to drive a commercial vehicle is a required part of their job. It’s how they make a living. Without a CDL, they’re without a job. No CDL means no income.
Under Michigan law, if a person is convicted of any kind of DUI crime (OWI, meaning operating while intoxicated, or OWVI, meaning operating while visibly impaired) his or her CDL will automatically be suspended for a minimum of 1 year. There are no exceptions to this and there is nothing that can be done to avoid it, short of avoiding the DUI conviction altogether. Any hope for avoiding a DUI conviction means hiring a Michigan DUI lawyer who will take a very close look at the evidence. If you have a CDL, then every single facet of the case against you must be put under a microscope. If there is any way to challenge any part of the evidence against you, it needs to be found, examined, and pursued. The rule of law leaves no wiggle room.
If a person with a CDL is convicted of any kind of DUI offense, his or her CDL will be suspended for at least 1 full year, and there is no way around this.
As we noted, this has nothing to do with operating a commercial vehicle after drinking. A person’s CDL will be yanked if they get any kind of DUI, including any DUI while operating their own personal vehicle.
This is often a cause for considerable stress when someone with a CDL learns this. We can debate the wisdom of such a law that wipes out a person’s livelihood because of a mistake in judgment made in their own personal vehicle, on their own time, but that won’t change the way things are. While I think it makes little sense to suspend a person’s CDL for a DUI completely unrelated to the operation of a commercial vehicle, my opinion means nothing, and as they saying goes, “it is what it is.”
The simple inflexibility of this is sometimes hard for people to grasp. Normally, someone will begin to repeat that the DUI didn’t occur in a work vehicle. I’ll explain that it doesn’t matter. Then, they’ll ask something like “How do they expect me to keep my job…?” It is a tough reality to accept that, if your CDL is necessary for your job, you’re going to lose it. There is no appeal in court for any kind of exception to this. There is no appeal at all. It is a hard and fast, non-negotiable rule. Apparently, our legislators in Lansing figured that knowing this would act as some kind of disincentive and help deter people from drinking and driving. In the real world, however, absolutely no one knows about this until after they get a DUI.
If you find yourself in this position, you simply cannot afford to just lay down and plead the case out, at least until every facet of it has been carefully and critically investigated. You need a lawyer that will critically evaluate the case for any issue that could be a weak link in the prosecutor's case.
Yet for all of this, even the most diligent investigation cannot undo what has been done. If the evidence in the case against you is solid, then it’s solid. No amount of “it’s not fair!” is going to change that. If there is any good news, it’s that very often, no matter how bleak things may seem at the moment, they work out. I’ve had drivers with lots of years of seniority at a company or a utility find a workaround. Sure, they may have had to take a pay cut, and move from the driver’s seat to the passenger seat, of even, in the case of someone working on the garbage truck, from driver to loader, but more often than not, they might wind up moving back in the line, but at least they don’t wind up in the unemployment line.
A DUI and a CDL is an ugly combination, and there are no comforting words of wisdom that a Michigan attorney can provide to wipe that ugliness away. Yet the best thing a person facing this problem can do is to do everything possible to get out of it, and I can help with that.