OWI Impact on CDL

If you rely upon a CDL for work it is critical that you speak with an attorney familiar with OWI law and practice as soon as possible after your arrest.  The Wisconsin Legislature made changes in the law in 2010 which mandate a year long disqualification of a CDL upon an administrative suspension for operating with a prohibited alcohol concentration.  Thus, failure to demand an administrative hearing within ten days of receiving notice of the DOT notice of administrative suspension or failing to appeal an adverse decision at an administrative suspension hearing will have the same impact on your CDL that an actual conviction for impaired driving would have. 

Those with commercial driver's licenses (CDL) are impacted much more severely by not only OWI offenses, but traffic offenses in general.  Several traffic violations can lead to CDL disqualifications for various periods of time.  Of special concern to anyone who makes their living with a CDL is that a single conviction for OWI or refusal to take an alcohol test will result in a one year disqualification of a CDL (three years if OWI while operating a commercial motor vehicle containing hazardous materials) with no possibility of obtaining what is commonly known as an occupational license for the purposes of operating a commercial vehicle during that time period.  Subsequent OWI convictions lead to a lifetime disqualification.

The impact of an OWI offense on a person's CDL is the same regardless of whether the license holder was driving a commercial motor vehicle at the time of arrest or driving a private vehicle.  However, there are special CDL penalties applied to a person operating a commercial vehicle while engaging in a drug or alcohol offense. 


 House Law Office - J. Steven House - 608.443.7522 - jshouse@jshouselaw.com - 222 S. Hamilton Street, Suite 12, Madison, WI 53703