Drunk driving is a serious charge in Michigan with life-altering consequences. If you are facing DUI or OWI charges, you need an experienced lawyer to fight on your behalf. DUI defense attorney, David J. Kramer has a proven record of defending clients and getting the best possible results. Reach out today for help.
Drunk Driving or DUI / OWI in Michigan
There were 32,610 drivers arrested in Michigan for driving while intoxicated, under the influence of alcohol and drugs, in the year 2016. This charge is one of the most common charges in the State of Michigan for the excellent reason that it’s not always easy to tell when your blood alcohol level is at the legal limit.
It’s also tough to say when your judgment is being impaired because of your alcohol consumption because this can often happen before you get the feeling of being “buzzed.”
What Makes Michigan’s DUI Laws Different?
The safest way to make sure you never face a DUI charge in Michigan is never to assume it is safe to drive if you have had any alcoholic beverage to drink.
However, it’s prevalent for people to have a lapse in judgment. Many people assume they aren’t impaired enough to get pulled over. They believe that if they have only had a couple of drinks, their blood alcohol level is below legal limits.
The national legal limit is .08% of blood alcohol content for drivers over 21. Commercial drivers must have a BAC of .04% or lower. However, there is a zero-tolerance policy for drivers under 21.
You are not legally allowed to have any alcoholic content whatsoever if you are driving and under the age of 21. Every person’s body metabolizes alcohol differently, so there is no one-size-fits-all alcohol calculator. For this reason, you could test positive and face arrest much more easily than you would have thought possible. It happens all the time.
DUI / OWI – Operating While Intoxicated
In the State of Michigan, the DUI, or driving under the influence, laws are called OWI: Operating While Intoxicated. There are no separate laws for driving under the influence of alcohol and driving while under the influence of drugs.
If law enforcement can ascertain probable cause that you are over the legal blood alcohol limit, they can arrest you for an OWI. It is not legal to have any amount of a Schedule 1 drug in your system while driving. Schedule 1 drugs are drugs like cocaine, barbiturates or heroin.
OWVI – Driving While Visually Impaired
Another driver impairment law in Michigan is called the OWVI – Driving While Visually Impaired. Under this statute, law enforcement officers do not need to have probable cause other than a visual assessment that you are driving under some degree of impairment to charge you with this crime.
OWI – Reckless Driving
There are two other DUI related charges sometimes used in Michigan. The first is a lesser offense than OWI – Reckless Driving, sometimes called “Wet Reckless Driving” – to which first offenders can sometimes plead guilty for a less severe penalty. On the other end, if your blood alcohol level is at .17% or above, you may be facing more severe penalties under Michigan’s “Super Drunk” law.
How Can You Get Arrested For An OWI In Michigan?
The circumstances under which a driver may be arrested for an OWI can vary widely. You may have been involved in an accident which does not appear to have been caused by intoxication.
Law enforcement officers may determine there is probable cause to arrest you after a calm discussion of the events of the accident, depending on what you tell them. Law enforcement officers may make a traffic stop if they suspect you by the way you are driving – if you are observed crossing the middle line more than once or are driving too slowly.
Alternatively, an officer may obtain probable cause during a routine traffic stop for other reasons.
Usually, law enforcement officers will obtain probable cause in one or more of several ways. Remember, all of these things would happen before police make an arrest, and therefore you do not legally have to be informed of your Miranda rights (the right to remain silent).
- Sensory Observations: police use observations like the ones mentioned above, as well as your appearance (i.e., bloodshot eyes), smells sights or unusual behavior to determine probable cause for an OWI arrest.
- Field Sobriety Tests: law enforcement officers may also use a variety of field sobriety tests such as asking you to say the alphabet, stand on one leg or walk and turn to determine probable cause.
- Chemical Testing: PAS, or Preliminary Alcohol Screening devices are typically less accurate than the Evidential Breath Test devices used post-arrest at police stations, and their results can’t be used against you in court. However, they are used to determine whether to make an arrest.
Field Sobriety Tests
Technically, compliance with Field Sobriety Tests and PAS at the roadside is discretionary, and you can refuse to comply. However, under Michigan law, drivers give what is called “implied consent” by merely driving on Michigan roadways.
As a driver, your consent to chemical testing at a police station is implied, and if you refuse, your license will be suspended. For a first time offense, you could have your license suspended for one year. For a second offense, it could be suspended for two years, and a third offense could result in license suspension for five years if you refuse chemical testing.
Penalties for OWI Charges in Michigan
Operating While Intoxicated penalties become more severe the more times you are convicted. The Penalties for an OWI charge in Michigan vary widely according to the circumstances of your arrest, whether police believe your actions caused serious bodily harm or death. Generally, however, the penalties for OWI are as follows
For a first-time offense:
- Up to 93 days in jail
- Up to $500 in fines
- Possible IID (Interlock Ignition Device) required
- Up to 6 months of license suspension
- Your conviction stays relevant to any future OWI convictions for seven years
For a second-time offense:
- Up to 1 year in jail
- A minimum of 1-year license suspension
- Up to 90 days of community service
- Up to $1,000 in fines
- IID required
For a third offense:
- Up to 5 years in prison
- Up to $1,000 in fines
- A minimum of 1-year license suspension
- IID required
- A 3rd OWI within seven years is classified as a felony
Legal Representation for Your OWI Charge
An OWI charge can carry severe consequences beyond the sentence you face if you are convicted. Criminal charges on your record can keep you from obtaining employment or membership in organizations requiring a background check. They may prevent you from gaining a lease or entrance into academic programs. It’s best not to take an OWI charge lightly, and to call an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible.
Call DUI Defense Attorney David J. Kramer Today
Whether you are facing DUI charges, an OWI offense or other related charges, defense attorney David J. Kramer will meet with you to understand all the circumstances surrounding your arrest. He will work hard to have your case thrown out, seek an acquittal at trial, and arrange the best possible plea deal for you as a back-up.
Here is an excerpt of what one of David J. Kramer’s clients had to say, “I contacted David regarding an OWI with a very high BAC. I was extremely panicked especially about my license at the time. David quickly re-assured me on several of my concerns and explained the likely outcomes. Despite a few surprise complications, David was still able to secure an outcome that resulted in no loss of license.”
The results of chemical testing are rarely successfully refuted in court. However, law enforcement uses criteria to determine probable cause that can be refuted. DUI defense attorney David J. Kramer will use every circumstance of your arrest in your favor in court.
Start fighting for your future.