If you have a commercial license and are charged with driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, it could mean the end of your career.
In Michigan, there are strict laws for anyone found to be Operating While Impaired (OWI). The statutes are especially harsh when it comes to commercial drivers who are drunk or on drugs while driving. In addition to Michigan law, there is also the possibility of suspension of their commercial license for DUI under Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSRs).
Because your career could end if you are convicted, it is important that you do everything you can to try to fight charges that have been brought against you if you've been accused of driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. A criminal defense attorney can help you to identify options to defend against charges.
A DUI Can End Your Career if You're a Commercial Driver
Commercial drivers on duty are subject to much stricter rules for alcohol impairment, compared with other motorists. For example, according to Michigan Vehicle Code Section 257.625, a commercial driver is not violating the law as long as their blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is no higher than .04. This is lower than the .08 limit which is applicable for most drivers. A first offense can also result in a misdemeanor conviction with a maximum of 93 days imprisonment, while a second offense within one year of the first could result in up to a year imprisonment. With two prior offenses, the third conviction could result in felony charges and a mandatory minimum jail term.
Commercial drivers not only face penalties under state law, but also under the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSRs).
Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations Section 383.51 mandates a suspension of a commercial drivers license for a one full year for a first-time conviction for drunk driving on-the-job. If a commercial driver does not agree to take a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) test and there is reasonable cause to believe that the driver is under the influence, this can also result in an automatic one-year suspension of a CDL. For commercial drivers who are transporting hazardous material while under the influence, the license suspension for the first drunk driving offense is longer - a full three years. If a second conviction occurs for driving drunk, the commercial driver could have his commercial license revoked for life.
Although penalties are more severe for drivers who are under the influence while actually operating their commercial vehicle, they should not assume their livelihood is safe if they are arrested for OWI off-the-clock. If you are arrested, charged, and convicted of operating while intoxicated even in your personal vehicle, this conviction can result in a suspension of your commercial license. You will not be able to work without your license, and many trucking firms won't hire you once you get it back. Some companies refuse to hire drivers with prior convictions because it's viewed as a liability. You need to fight any charges for impaired driving if you want to try to continue driving for a living. Make sure to contact a criminal defense attorney for assistance.