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Michigan Criminal Law Blog

Will an OWI Force Me to Give Up My CDL?

Do you drive for a living? What happens if you get an OWI?

Being caught driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol can be devastating. It can result in high fines, mandatory attendance in substance abuse and/or drivers’ education programs, loss of driving privileges, and in some cases, time in jail. And while these consequences upset life for anyone, they can be life-altering for people who drive for a living.

Anyone charged with operating their vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs should speak to an attorney, but working with an attorney is essential if your arrest and the charges against you could have a bearing on your career. Losing your CDL license because you drove while intoxicated can have life-long negative effects.

Commercial Drivers Have Added Responsibility

Commercial drivers rely on their ability to drive to earn their living. They must undergo special training and are expected to be held to a higher standard while on the road.

In addition to obeying the rules of the road in general, commercial drivers often have additional responsibilities because their vehicles are larger and they might be towing heavy materials while driving at high speeds.

Being charged with OWI, while operating a personal vehicle or your commercial vehicle, can have an impact on your career. Many states even have mandatory penalties for CDL drivers caught operating their commercial vehicles while under the influence. And many instances, those penalties result in the loss of driving privileges, temporarily or permanently, and put the driver out of work in addition to facing potential jail time.

Luckily, for many, it’s possible to have a CDL reinstated if it’s suspended following an OWI. You might be required to undergo additional testing and meet other obligations before your license will be re-instated. You might have the option of returning to your career, but only if you do everything you are instructed to do and only if you avoid future OWI charges.

For more information about Michigan’s laws regarding CDL license suspension, check out

Commercial Vehicles Create a Higher Risk on the Roads

It’s understandable why the legal system holds CDL drivers to higher standards than drivers who are “on their own time” and operating standard passenger vehicles. After all, the risk is greater for those involved in accidents with commercial vehicles. As a commercial driver, it’s your responsibility to adhere to certain standards and take your responsibilities seriously.

Unfortunately, there are instances in which commercial drivers are treated unfairly by the legal system. If a mistake or misunderstanding has led to OWI charges and you are concerned your commercial license is at stake, we can help.

We’ve worked with drivers who are charged with OWI and helped them protect their driving privileges. This is especially important if you rely on driving to earn a living. The last thing you need during this crucial time is to be concerned that you could be out of job.

For more information or to speak to someone about how an OWI could affect your CDL license, contact Andrew W. Kowalkowski, PLLC at 248.974.9594.

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