Out-of-State Drivers & DUI
Michigan is a beautiful state with many attractions. The state is bordered by two of the Great Lakes, making it rich with opportunities for outdoor recreation. Michigan also is home to professional sports teams and top-level college sports teams that draw in visitors for games. With these kinds of events and attractions available, Michigan roads and highways often are traveled by drivers from Ohio, Illinois, Indiana, or any number of other states.
Whenever you drive in another state, you have the risk of getting pulled over by law enforcement. Some officers may pay more attention to perceived infractions by people with out-of-state license plates, and since you can be charged with a DUI in Michigan when a police officer or even another driver witnesses something they think means you’re under the influence, you could find yourself facing a criminal charge.
In Michigan, you can be charged with DUI, or OWI as its more commonly known here, for driving while impaired or driving when your blood alcohol concentration exceeds the state’s .08 legal limit. You also can be charged with operating a motor vehicle while visibly impaired when another driver reports observing you driving in a way that seems impaired, such as weaving in and out of lanes, driving too fast or too slow, or driving on the shoulder or otherwise off the roadway.
Consequences of a Michigan DUI Conviction
An OWI is a serious criminal charge in Michigan. The offense can be a misdemeanor or a felony depending on the circumstances, including factors such as whether someone was injured or killed as a result of your alleged drunk driving. Even a first offense can result in a jail sentence — which can be especially problematic when you live in another state.
If you’re convicted of an OWI charge in Michigan as an out-of-state driver, the potential consequences you may experience include:
- Depending on the nature of the OWI charge, you could face days, months, or even years in jail depending on what a judge thinks is a reasonable sentence
- You could be ordered to pay fines of hundreds or thousands of dollars
- Your vehicle could be immobilized or declared forfeit
- Your driver’s license may be suspended
- Your conviction may be reported to your home state and affect your driving record
- You’ll likely have to pay higher premiums for car insurance if your insurance company deems you a greater risk to insure
- You’ll have a permanent criminal record
- Your ability to travel outside of the United States may be affected, or if you are not a U.S. citizen a conviction may affect your immigration status or result in your application for a visa, green card, or citizenship to be denied
Defending Your Michigan DUI Charge
As an out-of-state driver, it’s especially important to seek the advice of an experienced Michigan DUI attorney when you’re charged for an OWI here. By hiring an attorney, he or she can typically appear in court on your behalf and reduce — or perhaps eliminate — the need for you to return to Michigan to defend yourself.
There may be evidence or circumstances that a skilled Michigan DUI attorney can use to fight your charge. If the facts or the law are in your favor, a lawyer who knows the laws, courts, and process in Michigan may be able to get your case dismissed, or your charge reduced so that you avoid having to serve jail time in Michigan. Some common defense strategies in Michigan OWI cases can include:
- Arguing that breath or blood BAC test results were inaccurate
- Arguing that the methods for testing your breath or blood were flawed or investigators didn’t follow proper procedure
- Arguing that a search warrant used to get a blood sample from you was invalid, or that a blood draw without a warrant violated your rights
- Arguing that police had no legitimate reason to stop or arrest you
If you’re a driver from another state who was charged with DUI in Michigan, you shouldn’t hesitate to call an experienced Michigan DUI attorney to discuss your case.