CDL Drivers: Beware of Drinking on the Job!

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CDL Drivers: Beware of Drinking on the Job!

Drinking and driving is never a good idea. Whether your vehicle is a tiny little Volkswagon or a huge SUV, the dangers to yourself and others are clear. For those with commercial driver’s licenses, the dangers to others can be even greater since the vehicles involved are often many tons heavier, and capable of more severe damage. In Michigan, lawmakers have taken the risks of drinking and driving very seriously, and for CDL drivers who drink and drive, be warned: if you are caught, the legal penalties are pretty stiff.

Michigan Law 

Under Michigan Law, a DUI conviction of driving at .08% or higher results in a one-year suspension of the CDL. This applies to all drivers of big rigs and drivers of utility trucks, delivery trucks, and any other commonly used trucks that companies across the state use in day-to-day business.

To be clear, DUI (driving under the influence) is not the only concern to state troopers, nor is it the only charge that can bring the legal consequences barreling down on you. OWI (operating while intoxicated) refers to operating a vehicle under the influence of any controlled substance, but the biggest red flag is the meaning of the word “operating.” Under Michigan law, you can be considered an operator even if you are not in the act of driving.  You must simply have control of a vehicle, including being parked in a grocery store parking lot or even sleeping in a parked vehicle.

Federal Standards

According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMSCA), anyone driving with a commercial driver’s license (CDL) who is driving a commercial motor vehicle (CMV) will face sanctions if their level of blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is .04% or higher, which the FMCSA considers driving under the influence. That is less than half of most state thresholds, including the threshold here in Michigan, which is .08%. This rule applies to drivers of vehicles weighing over 10,000 pounds or used to transport 15+ people at a time, as well as drivers transporting placarded hazardous materials. CDL drivers who violate the .04% level may no longer qualify and be eligible to hold a CDL or a regular driver’s license, according to FMCSA rules. That is because being caught driving under the influence according to either State law or FMCSA rules is considered a major violation, as is refusing to comply with a request to submit to a lawful request to take a breathalyzer or blood test. The federal consequences include:

  • First Violation
    • One year of disqualification for any CMV or non-CMV driver;
    • Three years of disqualification for anyone involved in the transportation of hazardous materials;
  • Second Violation
    • Disqualification for life, with eligibility for reinstatement in limited circumstances after 10 years.

If Your CDL License is at Risk

Have you been charged with DUI or OUI in the state of Michigan? If so, your very livelihood is at risk. At Lucido & Manzella, P.C.,  our experienced attorneys will turn over every stone to investigate your case and fight for the best possible outcomes for you. To discuss your situation, schedule a free, confidential consultation in our Macomb County office today.

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