If you have been arrested for OWI in Michigan the police may treat you like you are guilty, but you do have options. Consider, however, that it is illegal to operate a motorized vehicle in the state of Michigan with a BAC or blood alcohol concentration of 0.08% or higher, and if you are under the age of 21 it is illegal in the state of Michigan to operate a motor vehicle with any trace of alcohol in your body. In Michigan, a DUI charge is often referred to as OWI or Operating While Intoxicated, but this charge is similar to driving under the influence or DUI in other states.
Steps after first OWI arrest
1. Request an Administrative Hearing after drunk driving arrest
Many drivers, who are arrested for OWI, will try to fight the charges on their own. This could be a mistake. The first step after a drunk driving arrest if your license has been suspended through an Administrative License Suspension is to see if you can challenge the suspension. This challenge must be done within 14 days from the date of the OWI arrest by contacting the Secretary of State and requesting an Administrative License Hearing. The hearing will review your BAC level at the time of the drunk driving arrest, evaluate the field sobriety test results, and determine whether or not you submitted to a chemical test or refused the chemical test. The arresting officer can also present evidence about your OWI arrest and you may subpoena witnesses to testify.
The Administrative License Suspension process is separate from any criminal penalties you may face if you are convicted of a Michigan OWI.
2. Talk to a OWI lawyer in Michigan
Michigan OWI lawyers can review evidence the state has against you and give you advice. They will know whether or not you will be able to plead to a lesser charge.
3. Understand the penalties you may face if convicted of Michigan OWI
Gone are the days when drunk drivers received a simple slap on the wrist. If you are convicted of a Michigan OWI you will be required to pay of $100 minimum and up to a maximum of $500 in fines. Additional annual penalties called a driver responsibility fee of $1,000 per year for two consecutive years must also be to the Secretary of State. You may also face potential jail time up to 93 days, a 180 day license suspension, and up to 360 hours of community service.
4. Decide whether to plead guilty or not guilty after drunk driving arrest
Making this decision should only be done after consulting with a Michigan OWI lawyer. If you plead guilty a judge will sentence you. If you plead not guilty and your case goes to trial, which is rare, a six-member jury will hear statements from the prosecutor and your lawyer. At the conclusion of the case a jury will deliberate and reach a verdict.
Can I expunge my Michigan OWI?
Unfortunately, Michigan's expungement statute (law), does not allow an OWI conviction to be expunged. A drunk driving conviction in Michigan stays on your criminal record as a Misdemeanor crime for the rest of your life.