Michigan prosecutions for Driving Under the Influence “DUI” are “Operating While Intoxicated” or “OWI” prosecutions in Michigan. Prosecutions for First and Second Offenses may be brought under local City or Township Ordinance and prosecuted by local City or Township Attorneys or under State Law by the County Prosecuting Attorney. First and Second Offenses are prosecuted in the District Court for the location of the offense. A Third or subsequent drinking and driving offense, in a lifetime, can be charged as a Felony in Michigan that starts in the District Court for the location of the offense but may continue to the Circuit Court for the County of location of offense.
Generally, charges for OWI can be brought for operating a motor vehicle in a place open to the general public with either a blood alcohol level of .08 or greater, or if alcohol has materially and substantially affected a motorist’s ability to operate a vehicle in a normal manner. Most people don’t realize the harsh consequences that can result from an OWI conviction. In Michigan, these cases are not eligible for treatment under “first-offender” or deferred judgment programs, and convictions can remain on a person’s criminal and master driving record forever where they are available for public inspection by prospective employers and auto insurance companies. New legislation may allow for a first offense OWI conviction to be expunged from your record.
If convicted, a person can face jail for up to 93 days or up to 180 days for high blood alcohol “superdrunk” cases (blood alcohol levels at .17 and above). Second offenders face up to 1year in jail with mandatory jail or community service penalties. All OWI misdemeanor cases can result in being put on probation for up to two years. Driver license sanctions include mandatory suspensions and points assessed against a master driving record. An automobile interlock device can be required for months even for a first offense. Repeat offenses are even more severely punished, with the possibility of vehicle immobilization and/or forfeiture, and in some instances, mandatory jail sentences. Since 2007, a person facing a third or subsequent drinking and driving offense in a lifetime can be charged with a Felony which requires, upon conviction, incarceration in the county jail or the State Prison.
Contacting us at 734-887-6200 as soon as possible after your arrest ensures that you will be represented at your first court appearance(arraignment) when scheduling and bond conditions are decided. Bond conditions for people charged with drinking and driving can be very expensive and burdensome. Defendants will likely be ordered not to drink alcohol or use drugs including marijuana. Depending on the level of alcohol or drugs in your system at arrest, many judges and magistrates will require as a condition of bond daily breath testing or the use of a monitoring device every day the case is pending.
DUI / OWI / Drunk Driving in Michigan FAQs:
I was arrested in Washtenaw County for DUI. Can I be charged if my blood alcohol level is less than .08?
Yes. If alcohol has materially and substantially affected a motorist’s ability to operate a vehicle in a normal manner, or if a motorist’s ability to operate a vehicle is visibly impaired by alcohol, DUI/OWI charges can still be rendered even with a blood alcohol level than .08.
I was arrested for DUI in Wayne County. Can I be charged if I’m not under the influence of alcohol or a substance but have an illegal drug in my system?
Yes. In Michigan, if a motorist operates a vehicle with the mere presence of an unlawful substance in their system, including marijuana, a motorist can be charged with operating with the presence of a controlled substance “OWPD,” even if the substance is not affecting the motorist’s ability to drive.
I was pulled over and arrested for OUID under MCL 257.625in Lenawee County . Can I be charged even if I was taking prescription medication?
Yes. If the prescribed medication affects a motorist’s ability to operate a vehicle in a normal manner, --usually the result of taking the medication beyond prescribed amounts, that motorist can be charged with operating while intoxicated or impaired by a controlled substance.
What are the consequences for failing to take a breath or blood test? I was arrested by the Sheriff or Michigan State Police and refused the breath or blood test.
There are two types of breath tests utilized in Michigan. A roadside preliminary breath test, “PBT”, is used as a tool to determine probable cause for arrest. A motorist’s failure to submit to a properly requested PBT can result in the issuance of a civil infraction (traffic ticket), having only the consequence of fines and no further sanction to the motorist’s driver’s license. A motorist’s refusal to submit to the evidential, or “Data Master” test at a police station can result in an “Implied Consent” violation and mandatory sanctions to the motorist’s operator’s license, including a suspension of driving privileges for one year, without restrictions. Challenges for to a claimed Implied Consent violation must be made within 14 days of the date of claimed refusal.
The Police also have the right to request, with limited exception, a blood test instead of an evidential breath test. A refusal of this request can also result in the Implied Consent violation described above. Refusing either test will almost always result in police seeking and obtaining a search warrant for a mandatory blood test.
Can I be charged if I’m “sleeping it off” in my car? I fell asleep in my vehicle on the side of the road and I was arrested by the Michigan State Police.
It depends. In Michigan, a motorist is deemed to be “operating” if they are in a position of authority and control over a vehicle and that vehicle represents a danger of collision. But even if the vehicle is safely parked and presents no danger, a motorist can be charged with “operating” if the police have circumstantial evidence that the vehicle was driven such as a warm engine, admissions you make to the police, and tire tracks in freshly fallen snow.
What if I am less than 21? I was arrested while driving home from a party and was not .08 or intoxicated.
In Michigan, a motorist less than 21 can be charged with a “Zero Tolerance” OWI offense meaning that any amount of alcohol in the motorist’s system, even if not influencing that person’s ability to operate a vehicle, can result in charges. And a “Zero Tolerance” conviction can be used to charge a second offense, with a mandatory jail sentence, even if you are arrested for drinking and driving twenty or thirty years later.
What do the Best DUI Defense Attorneys do to defend a drunk driving case?
Ethically, lawyers cannot and should not make claims about themselves such as being “the best.” Instead, lawyers should stand on their experience, ratings, reputation, and results. The best practices for DUI/OWI defense include: intimate knowledge of the local courts and participants; a thorough confidential client interview; obtaining all case discovery including in-car and body-cam police video, audio dispatch recordings, verifying breath and blood testing protocols and reliability; verifying the lawfulness of police conduct from traffic stop through breath and blood test administration; and the ability to present a case in court in pretrial motion hearings and trial.
In over 35 years of criminal defense practice, Joseph A. Simon has successfully helped thousands of people charged with DUI/OWI offenses, aggressively and successfully challenging illegal traffic stops, unlawful arrests, breath or blood testing procedures, and obtaining victories at trial.
Contact our firm at 734-887-6200to see why so many people in Washtenaw, Wayne, Lenawee, Jackson, and Livingston Counties charged with DUI/OWI drunk driving charges have chosen Joseph A. Simon to be their defense attorney and protect their freedom and reputation.