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Home Blog Drunk Driving CDL (Commercial Driver’s License) and DUI

As Michigan DUI lawyers, we know that some people who win up facing an OWI charge hold a commercial driver’s license, or CDL. For 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 offense, 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 qualified 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 hie or her own personal vehicle.

When anyone with a CDL get charge with a DUI and learns this, it causes a lot of stress. We can debate the wisdom of a law that can really screw up 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 we may think it makes little sense to suspend a person’s CDL for a DUI completely unrelated to the operation of a commercial vehicle, what matters is the law, and that it is clear in this regard.

The fact that there is no workaround to the mandatory suspension of a person’s CDL for any DUI conviction can be hard to fully appreciate. It’s normal for anyone in this position to repeat that the DUI didn’t occur in a work vehicle, and then 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 not going to have it for a year. 

To be clear: There is no appeal in court for any kind of exception to this.

Unfortunately, the mandatory suspension of a CDL following an DUI conviction is a hard and fast, non-negotiable rule. Apparently, the legislators in Lansing figured that this would act as some kind of disincentive and help deter people from drinking and driving. 

In the real world, however, nobody really knows about this until after they get a DUI.

If you find yourself in this position, you simply cannot afford to just lay down until every facet of it has been carefully and critically investigated. 

You need a lawyer that will critically evaluate every bit of evidence for any issue that could be a weak link in the prosecutor’s case.

Yet for all of that, even the most diligent investigation cannot undo what has been done or change the state of the facts. 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. 

There is good news, however. Very often, no matter how bleak things may seem at the moment, they work out. 

In our roles as Michigan DUI lawyers, we’ve had drivers with lots of years of seniority at their place of employment, who, despite the suspension of their CDL, have been able to find a workaround and be transferred to a different position.

This may have required them to move from the driver’s seat to the passenger seat, but more often than not, these assignments were temporary.

A DUI and a CDL is a difficult combination, and unfortunately, there are no comforting words of wisdom that can just make it all better. The only thing a person facing this problem can do is to do is to ensure that his or her attorney employs the best possible legal strategy.

My team and I will do just that. No lawyer can do more, and we will never do less.