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DUI in Michigan

OWI in Michigan

In the state of Michigan, drivers who are arrested for drunk driving are charged with OWI "operating while intoxicated", OWVI "operating a vehicle while visibly impaired" or DUI "driving under the influence". All of these terms basically mean the same thing: you have been arrested for drunk driving and you need to talk to a Michigan lawyer.

A Michigan DUI/OWI lawyer understands OWI laws in Michigan and can determine what you should do next. DUI penalties can be very serious and can include:

  • A license suspension
  • High court costs and penalties
  • Mandatory attendance in a drug and alcohol rehabilitation program
  • Increased insurance rates
  • Mandatory installation of an Ignition Interlock Device

Many Michigan DUI attorneys offer a free initial consultation to review DUI cases. Do not try to fight this alone. Michigan DUI lawyers can help.

Legal definition of OWI and DUI in Michigan
Michigan OWI or DUI law considers it illegal for drivers to operate a motor vehicle if they are under the influence of drugs or alcohol, and they have consumed enough that their ability to operate the vehicle either physically or mentally is impaired. Evidence can be gathered by police officers either before or after a driver is stopped. A field sobriety test is one common method officers use to test a driver's impairment.

It is also illegal for a Michigan drivers to operate a vehicle if they have consumed drugs, alcohol or a combination of the two and their blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is 0.08% or higher. Michigan DUI laws frequently refer to this as a "per se DUI". Evidence of impairment is not necessary if the driver is over the legal BAC limit.

Drivers under the age of 21 are considered OWI when their BAC is 0.02% or higher. Commercial drivers can also be charged with OWI if they are operating a motorized vehicle and their BAC is 0.04% or higher.

Penalties for OWI/DUI in Michigan

First Offense

  • Required to pay $100 to $500 in fines
  • Required jail term of up to 93 days
  • Potential community service up to 350 hours
  • Mandatory 30 day driver's license suspension with 150 days driving restrictions following the suspension
  • Potential installation of an Ignition Interlock Device or a vehicle immobilization
  • $1,000 payment each year for 2 years (this is called the "driver responsibility fee")

Second OffenseM

  • Required to pay $200 to $1000 in fines
  • Required jail term of 5 days to 1 year in prison
  • Mandatory community service for 30 to 90 days
  • 1 year driver's license suspension and license plate confiscation
  • 90 to 180 days vehicle immobilization
  • $1,000 payment each year for 2 years (this is called the "driver responsibility fee")
  • Potential installation of an ignition interlock device

Third Offense Felony offense

  • Required to pay $500 to $5000 in fines
  • Required jail term of 1 to 5 years
  • Potential community service for 60 to 180 days
  • Up to 5 year driver's license suspension and license plate confiscation
  • 1 to 3 year vehicle immobilization of forfeiture
  • $1,000 payment each year for 2 years (this is called the "driver responsibility fee")
  • Potential installation of an ignition interlock device

Finding a DUI Attorney in Michigan
Drivers frequently ask the question, "Do I need to hire a DUI or OWI attorney?" It is possible to plead guilty to a DUI charge without hiring a DUI lawyer, but lawyers understand DUI laws and are able to build a defense to fight a driver's drunken driving charge. DUI is not like other moving driving violations. Even first time offenders face serious penalties if convicted. Seeking legal counsel is even more important if a driver has injured or killed another driver or if they have multiple DUI convictions.

Chemical testing for DUI
Michigan police officers are allowed, under Michigan's DUI laws, to request a chemical test (blood, urine or breath) from a driver suspected of DUI. This test is called a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) test.

There are two common methods used in Michigan. The first is the Portable Breath Test or PBT. This machine can be used at the scene of the arrest. The results of this type of test are less reliable than other devices and are not used in court. The readings from this test do, however, help the officer determine if there is probable cause to arrest a driver for DUI. Drivers who refuse to submit to this test can be charged $100 fine.

The second type of device used to test for DUI is an Evidentiary Breath Test. Tests for this machine are done at the police station. The results from this test may be admissible in court. If a driver refuses to take this BAC test they could face suspension of their Michigan driver's license.