September 20, 2019

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Michigan OWI Charges

Michigan OWI Law Firms

There are several typed of charges for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs in Michigan, generally referred to as operating while intoxicated (OWI). Michigan has very harsh penalties for OWI. There is also an automatic driver’s license suspension for refusing to take a breath test, whether you are convicted of OWI or not. However, there are many potential defenses to an OWI charge which you should explore with a Michigan OWI attorney.

Types of Michigan OWI Charges

Operating while intoxicated (OWI) includes three charges:

  • BAC of .08 to .16
  • High BAC – .17 or higher
  • Alcohol or drugs substantially affected your ability to drive safely (no specific BAC)

If your BAC is below the legal limit of .08, you can still be charged with operating while visibly impaired (OWVI), meaning that even though your BAC was acceptable, your ability to drive appear to be impaired. It is common for prosecutors to offer defendants facing OWI charges the chance to plead guilty to OWVI. If you are offered a plea deal, talk to an attorney before accepting. OWVI is still a very serious charge.

You can be charged with operating with any presence of a schedule 1 drug or cocaine (OWPD) for having a trace amount of cocaine or a schedule 1 drug, including marijuana, in your body, even if you are not an do not appear to be impaired at all.

Michigan has a “zero tolerance” policy for underage drivers. If you are under 21 years old the legal limit is .02, and it is illegal for you to drive with any presence of alcohol in your body, unless you consumed the alcohol at a generally recognized religious ceremony.

If you refuse a breath test your license can be automatically suspended for one year for a first refusal and or two years if it is your second refusal in seven years.

Michigan OWI First Offense Penalties

In addition to the penalties listed below, if you are convicted of OWI you can be charged $1,000 per year for two years under Michigan’s Driver Responsibility Act.

Penalties for first conviction of OWI with BAC under .17 include:

  • Jail time – up to 93 days
  • Fine – up to $500
  • Community service – up to 360 hours
  • Six points on your driver’s license
  • Driver’s license suspension – up to six months, with the possibility of a restricted license after 30 days

Penalties for first conviction with High BAC (.17 or greater):

  • Jail time – up to six months
  • Fine – up to $700
  • Community service – up to 360 hours
  • Alcohol treatment program
  • Six points on your driver’s license
  • Driver’s license suspension – up to one, with the possibility of a restricted license after 45 days with an ignition interlock device