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What Are The Penalties For Operating A Commerical Vehicle With An Unlawful Bodily Alcohol Content (UBAL) In Michigan? – MCL 257.625m

Operating a commerical vehicle with an unlawful bodily alcohol content ubal in michigan   mcl 257625

Commercial motor vehicle drivers are held to a higher standard than regular drivers because of the greater injuries or deaths that can result from collisions with their large vehicles. Obtaining and keeping a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) requires more knowledge and effort than the standard operator’s license. As a result, the law has no tolerance for commercial motor vehicle drivers that drink and drive.

A person is guilty of operating a commercial motor vehicle with an unlawful bodily alcohol level, contrary to MCL 257.625m, if the prosecutor can prove each of the following elements beyond a reasonable doubt:

  • First, that the person was operating a commercial motor vehicle, meaning they had actual physical control of the vehicle. If the police arrive and the commercial motor vehicle is not running, it is possible for the prosecutor to establish circumstantial evidence of operating such as the hood and tires being warm from recent operation.
  • Second, the person had a bodily alcohol level (BAC) at or above 0.04 but less than 0.08 when operating the commercial motor vehicle. After an arrest, law enforcement will almost always request that the suspect submit to either an evidential breath test with the DataMaster DMT or a blood draw. For the DataMaster DMT test to be admissible in court, the police must follow specific regulation such as proper calibration, regular testing and observation of the suspect for 15 minutes prior to obtaining a sample. For a hospital blood draw to be admissible in court, the sample must generally be either from hospital personnel drawn for medical treatment purposes or by consent of the suspect. If the trier of fact (the judge or jury) finds you had a BAC at or above 0.04, your intoxication is assumed despite your actual driving performance.

The legal limit in Michigan for operating while intoxicated is normally a bodily alcohol level (BAC) of 0.08 or higher, but notice that the commercial motor vehicle driver reaches an unlawful level at a BAC of 0.04. It takes very few alcoholic drinks to exceed the legal limit (and quite possibly only one drink depending on the person and the type of alcohol).

The penalties for operating a commercial motor vehicle with an unlawful bodily alcohol level are as follows:

  • For a first offense, the penalty is a misdemeanor conviction punishable by:
  1. A fine up to $300.00, or up to 93 days In jail, or both.
  2. Commercial Driver’s License is suspended for 1 year (3 years if vehicle was hauling hazardous materials) with no hardship appeal available.
  3. Driver’s License is restricted up to 90 days with no hardship appeal available.
  • For a second offense occurring within the last seven years, the penalty is a misdemeanor conviction punishable by:
  1. A fine up to $1,000.00, or up to 1 year in jail, or both.
  2. Vehicle group designator revoked for 10 years with no hardship appeal.
  3. Commercial Driver’s License is revoked for at least one year with no hardship appeal.
  4. Driver’s License revoked for at least one year with no hardship appeal.
  • For a third or subsequent offense within the last ten years, the penalty is a felony conviction punishable by:
  1. A fine between $500.00 and $5,000.00.
  2. Prison sentence between 1 to 5 years OR probation with a jail sentence between 30 days and one year (48 hours must be served consecutively) and community service between 60 days and 180 days.
  3. Vehicle group designator revoked for 10 years to life with no hardship appeal.
  4. Commercial Driver’s License is revoked for at least one year with no hardship appeal.
  5. Driver’s License revoked for at least one year with no hardship appeal.

Additionally, MCL 257.319d(1) further provides that a person, whether licensed or not, shall not operate a commercial motor vehicle in the State of Michigan with a blood alcohol content of 0.015 or higher.  If, pursuant to MCL 257.319(2), a police officer has reasonable cause to believe that a person was operating a commercial motor vehicle with a blood alcohol content of 0.015 or higher, then that police officer can immediately order that person to submit to a preliminary breath test or a chemical test.

  • If the result of the preliminary breath test or the chemical test is a BAC level of 0.015 or higher, then the police officer shall order the person out-of-service immediately for 24 hours, beginning upon issuance of the order.
  • If the person REFUSES to submit to a preliminary breath test or a chemical test, then the police officer shall order the person out-of-service immediately for 24 hours, beginning upon issuance of the order.

The police officer who issues the out-of-service order has the subsequent duty to provide “for the safe and expeditious disposition of a product carried by a commercial motor vehicle that is hazardous or would result in damage to the vehicle, human health, or the environment.” MCL 257.319d(4).

A person subject to the out-of-service order that violates it by operating commercial motor vehicle during the prohibited 24-hour period is guilty of a misdemeanor punishable as follows:

  1. Fine up to $100.00 or a jail sentence up to 90 days, or both.
  2. License suspension of 180 days for a first offense (no hardship appeal).
  3. License suspension of two years for a second offense (no hardship appeal) if it occurred within 10 years of the first offense and you were transporting non-hazardous materials.
  4. License suspension of three years for a second offense (no hardship appeal) if it occurred within 10 years of the first offense and you were transporting hazardous materials.
  5. License suspension of three years for a third offense (no hardship appeal) if it occurred within 10 years of the first offense, regardless of whether you were transporting hazardous or non-hazardous materials.

Operating a commercial motor vehicle with a BAC between 0.04 and 0.08 does not result in points on a Michigan operator’s licenses. However, if the driver had a blood alcohol level of 0.08 or higher, the prosecutor mau charge him or her with the regular operating while intoxicated offense which can result in higher fines, possible jail time, community service, license suspension and 6 points on your driver’s license. It should be noted that MCL 257.312f(5)(b) prohibits the Michigan Secretary of State from issuing a commercial learner’s permit to a driver who was convicted of an offense resulting in 6 points on your driver’s license occurring while operating a commercial motor vehicle in the last 24 months. This consequence can severely restrict future employment opportunities.

A conviction for operating with an unlawful alcohol content can be detrimental to a continued career in driving commercial motor vehicles. If you are accused of any drunk driving offense, do not hesitate to contact the attorneys at Kershaw, Vititoe & Jedinak PLC for the best resolution of your criminal matter.

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