Michigan CDL Traffic Violations: Commercial License Issues

The State of Michigan requires drivers of a commercial motor vehicle (CMV) to have a commercial drivers license (CDL). These specific CMVs include:

  • vehicles with a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of 26,001 pounds or more
  • a towing trailer or other vehicles with a GVWR of 10,001 or more that have a gross combination weight rating of 26,001
  • vehicles designed to transport 16 or more passengers (including the driver)
  • vehicles designed to transport hazardous material that require placards.

Drivers who do not need CDLs are farmers, active military service people, policemen or firefighters, and individuals operating recreational vehicles such as motor homes. Because CDL privileges are subject to restrictions, serious traffic violations may result in suspension of these privileges for a period of time. In some cases, the disqualification may be for life.

Moving Violations

Serious moving violations that may result in disqualification include the following:

  • speeding 15 MPH over the posted speed limit
  • following another vehicle too closely (tailgating)
  • changing or using lanes improperly or erratically
  • operating a CMV without a CDL in the driver's possession
  • reckless or careless driving

Convictions for violations in a non-commercial vehicle that result in license suspension or revocation will disqualify CDL privileges also. Using a CMV in the commission of a felony involving controlled substances results in the loss of CDL privileges for life.

CDL Specific Violations

In Michigan, a CDL holder is subject to disqualification for violating certain CDL specific requirements. For instance, CDL drivers have certain responsibilities when coming to a railroad crossing. Railroad crossing violations include:

  • failure to slow down at a railroad crossing and check for an approaching train
  • failure to stop when the tracks are not clear
  • failure to stop before driving onto the tracks
  • failure to have sufficient space to drive completely through the crossing without stopping
  • failure to negotiate a crossing because of insufficient undercarriage clearance
  • failure to obey a traffic control device or the directions of a crossing enforcement officer

Additionally, drivers may be disqualified from operating a CMV while the CMV is under an out-of-service order. CDL holders cannot have more than one license and must notify an employer within 30 days of any conviction (no matter the vehicle driven). The CDL holder must also notify a motor licensing agency within 30 days regarding any traffic convictions received out of state.

DUI Charges

Michigan prohibits CDL holders from operating a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol content of .04 percent or more. A CDL holder may also be disqualified for refusing to submit to chemical testing of blood, breath or urine.

Impact on Commercial Drivers License

Conviction for a serious traffic violation while driving a CMV results in a suspension of CDL privileges for 60 days if there are two violations within three years. The suspension is 120 days if there are three or more violations within three years.

A first conviction on a DUI (or leaving a scene of an accident) incurs a one-year suspension; the suspension is for three years if the CMV was transporting hazardous material at the time of the incident. In a second conviction arising from a separate incident, the suspension will be for 10 years. These penalties apply for refusing to submit to chemical testing.

Conviction for railroad crossing violations incurs a 60-day suspension for the first violation. A second violation within three years incurs a 120-day suspension. A third or subsequent separate violations within three years incurs a one-year suspension.

Options for Defense

If you are a CDL holder in Michigan, you may lose your driving privileges even for a minor traffic offense. Suspensions can run as long as 10 years. The best defense is to fight any traffic charges. To do this, you should consult with an experienced traffic attorney who can investigate the circumstances surrounding your traffic incident to find a way to effectively defend you and prevent the loss of your CDL privileges. Talk with an attorney as soon as possible to discuss your case.

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