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Driving Under the Influence (DUI)

Whether you call it OWI, DWI, or DUI, it’s a crime in Michigan to drive while impaired by the use of alcohol or drugs. Under Michigan Vehicle Code §257.625, you may be charged with DUI if you are suspected of operating a motor vehicle when your blood alcohol concentration exceeds Michigan’s .08 legal limit, or simply when you operate a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs even if your BAC is under the legal limit.

Michigan takes charges of driving under the influence seriously, and the penalties for a conviction can be harsh. Further, Michigan doesn’t allow OWI convictions to be expunged from your record. Depending on the circumstances of your charge, a conviction for OWI can result in serious and lasting consequences, including:

  • A jail or prison sentence
  • Fines of up to thousands of dollars
  • Suspension or revocation of your driver’s license
  • Immobilization or impoundment of your vehicle
  • Use of an ignition interlock device on your vehicle
  • Points on your driver’s license
  • Increased car insurance rates
  • Effects on your employment

However, as serious as a Michigan OWI charge is, it doesn’t have to ruin your life. Depending on your circumstances and with the help of an experienced Detroit DUI lawyer, you may have a chance at getting your charge dismissed or your penalties reduced.

Penalties for a Michigan DUI Conviction

The penalties for an OWI conviction vary based on a number of factors, including your BAC and whether you have previous convictions. Penalties become more severe as you accrue new convictions, and when your BAC is exceptionally high.

Penalties also can be affected by what a judge thinks is “reasonable” based on the facts, evidence, and circumstances of a case. The Michigan Supreme Court recently decided a case that said judges, and not the Legislature, have the power to decide criminal sentences. That means that judges aren’t restricted by the sentences written into statutes by the Legislature. A good Detroit DUI attorney can tell you what that might mean for the outcome of your case.

The penalties for OWI found in Section 257.625 of the Michigan Vehicle Code include:

First DUI Offense

The first time you get an OWI conviction in Michigan for being impaired or for having a BAC over .08, it’s a misdemeanor offense. You may be sentenced to:

  • Up to 93 days in jail
  • A fine of up to $500
  • Community service for up to 360 hours
  • Suspension of your driver’s license for 30 days, and then restriction of your license for 150 days
  • Six points added to your driver’s license

Second DUI Offense

Your second OWI conviction for being impaired or having a BAC over .08 is a more serious misdemeanor. The possible penalties for conviction include:

  • Up to 1 year in jail, with a mandatory minimum of 5 days
  • A fine of up to $1,000
  • Community service for 30 to 90 days
  • A minimum 1 year driver’s license revocation, or a minimum of 5 years if your license has been revoked within the preceding 7 years
  • License plate confiscation
  • Your vehicle may be immobilized or forfeited
  • Six points on your driver’s license

Third or Subsequent DUI Offense

It’s a felony in Michigan when you get a third or subsequent OWI conviction within your lifetime, or have two or more convictions for certain other types of offenses. The penalties for a felony third or subsequent OWI conviction may include:

  • A prison sentence of 1 to 5 years
  • Probation plus a jail sentence of 30 days to 1 year
  • A fine of up to $5,000
  • Community service for up to 180 days
  • Revocation of your driver’s license
  • Denial of your vehicle registration and confiscation of your license plate
  • Six points on your driver’s license

High BAC or “Super Drunk” DUI

Michigan treats OWI more seriously when you are charged for having a BAC of .17 or higher. You may be charged with “Unlawful Blood Alcohol Level,” also commonly known as “super drunk OWI.” If you’re convicted, the offense is a misdemeanor, and the possible penalties for a first conviction may include:

  • Up to 180 days in jail
  • A fine of up to $700
  • Community service for up to 360 hours
  • Driver’s license suspension for up to 1 year, with a restricted license possible after 45 days if you get an ignition interlock device installed on any car you own or drive
  • Six points on your driving record

If you are pulled over and charged for driving without an ignition interlock device, your license plate may be confiscated and Michigan law requires that your vehicle be immobilized.

Defending Your Michigan DUI Charge

To convict you of OWI, a prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you:

  • Operated a motor vehicle
  • Under the influence of alcohol or drugs
  • Your ability to drive was impaired because of the consumption of alcohol or drugs

Often, the prosecutor’s case is built on observations by police or other witnesses to suggest that your driving was impaired, and on the results of breath or blood tests to determine whether your BAC was over the legal limit. A skilled Michigan OWI defense lawyer will look at the evidence used by the prosecutor with an eye for detail and a thorough knowledge of law and procedure in OWI cases. Maybe the police officer’s observations were faulty, or the test that determined your BAC was improperly administered. With the help of a good lawyer, you may have options for fighting your OWI charge and getting it dismissed, or your penalties reduced.

Some common defense strategies in OWI cases include:

  • Challenging the results of your breath or blood test
  • Challenging how breath or blood tests were administered
  • Challenging the legitimacy of a search warrant, or the lack of a search warrant in obtaining a sample from you
  • Challenging the legitimacy of the stop that resulted in your OWI charge
  • Challenging whether police had probable cause to arrest you, or whether they properly administered your Miranda rights upon arrest

Charged with a Michigan DUI? Contact us today.

Your initial consultation will always be free and confidential. Call today or fill out the form below and we will help you.

Attorney Maurice Davis