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OWI Special Circumstances

By Daniel T. Geherin

OWI Special Circumstances

In Michigan, sometimes an arrest for a first-time OWI can have enhanced/aggravated consequences, even if the blood alcohol level is low and even if there was no accident or injury.  For example, if the driver has children in her vehicle at the time of the arrest, she might be charged with OWI/Child Endangerment. Likewise, there are also enhanced penalties for people who have a commercial driver’s license and are convicted of OWI.

What Is Child Endangerment?

If a person operates a vehicle which is occupied by a child or children (defined by statute as 16 years old and younger) while intoxicated or impaired by alcohol and/or drugs, he may be charged with OWI/Child Endangerment, an aggravated misdemeanor offense.  A conviction for this offense carries with it greater risk of incarceration (up to 180 days) and more severe license sanctions.  And, in rare instances, a conviction for this offense might result in a Child Protective Services referral with potential dire consequences---up to and including termination of parental rights. 

What Is A CDL?

Commercial Driver’s Licenses (CDL) are specialized privileges granted to drivers who seek to operate a commercial vehicle, most typically for employment.  For instances, many truck drivers, bus drivers, rideshare companies, and heavy-haul operators must have a CDL before operating.  Seeking a CDL requires a clean driving record, evidence of testing and compliance, and other factors.  Getting one is not easy, and once a person loses his CDL, retrieving it back can be close to impossible. 

What Are The Consequences On A CDL For OWI?

OWI and CDL simply do not mix.  If a person is arrested for OWI while driving a commercial vehicle, he faces aggravated penalties and license sanctions.  Further, the BAC cut-off for operating a commercial vehicle is .04, meaning a person conceivably could be convicted of a misdemeanor offense after drinking two beers!  In addition, CDL holders who are driving a commercial vehicle face immediate suspension and long-term revocation if they refuse a preliminary breath test (PBT) or are driving hazardous materials at the time of arrest. 

Lastly, even if a person is not driving a commercial vehicle at the time of OWI arrest, his/her separate CDL privileges will be subject to a one-year suspension if convicted, and could face a revocation and denial of that CDL privilege upon a second offense.   And, this is in addition to the effect on the driver’s “standard” license sanctions. 

Accordingly, CDL holders who are arrested or charged with OWI---whether operating a commercial vehicle or not—should definitely consult with an experienced and successful OWI/License Specialist immediately.  Protecting that CDL privilege (and often with it, the ability to keep working) should be priority number one, and retaining an attorney with a track record of success on these types of cases might make all the difference in the world.   

For more information on OWI Special Circumstances In Michigan, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (734) 263-2780 today.