Michigan Drunk Driving Laws

Posted by: Mike Naughton 8 months ago

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Each year, thousands of people are arrested for driving impaired or intoxicated. Additionally, hundreds of people are charged with driving-related crashes while intoxicated.

Contact us today if you or a loved one may be facing a drunk driving offense. Although this does not constitute legal advice, the following may be useful for you when considering appropriate next steps. 

We have successfully litigated in the Michigan Supreme Court, Michigan Court of Appeals and Michigan trial courts for clients charged with first, second, third and more drunk driving offenses.


 

Under Michigan law, it is illegal to drive if:

In Michigan, you can be charged with the following:
  • Operating While Visibly Impaired (OWVI): your  ability to operate a motor vehicle was visibly impaired because of consuming alcohol, controlled substance or other intoxicating substance.
  • Operating While Intoxicated (OWI) includes the following:
    • A blood alcohol content at or above 0.08;
    • Alcohol, controlled substance, or other intoxicating substance impacted your ability to safely operate a motor vehicle; or
    • A high BAC, above 0.17.
Penalties in Michigan:
  • Michigan courts typically decide drunk driving cases within 77 days after an arrest.
  • The Michigan Secretary of State imposes a mandatory 6-month driver license suspension for OWI cases. You may be eligible for a restricted license after serving 30 days of the suspension.
  • If you are convicted of a High BAC offense, you would face a mandatory 1-year driver license suspension. However, you may be eligible for a restricted license after serving 45 days of the license suspension. An ignition interlock device must be installed on any vehicle you intend to operate.
  • Courts may order your participation in and completion of rehabilitation programs. The court is required to order this if you have 1 or more prior convictions or are convicted of High BAC.
  • A third OWI conviction is a felony under Michigan law, which may subject you to prison time.
  • Similarly, convictions of OWI Causing Death or OWI Causing Injury are also felonies.
Preliminary Breath Test and Implied Consent:
  • You may be asked to take a Preliminary Breath Test (PBT) by a by a law enforcement officer who believes you may be driving while intoxicated or impaired. The basis of their belief is an important legal consideration.
  • If you refused to take the PBT, you may be charged with a civil infraction;
  • If you are under 21 years of age and refuse to take a PBT, 2 points may be added to your driving record.
  • Under Michigan's Implied Consent Law, you are required to take a chemical test to determine your BAC. 
  • For a first time refusal to take the test, your license will be suspended for 1 year.
  • If you refuse to take the test one or more times within the 7 preceding years, your license will be suspended for 2 years.
  • Additionally, if you refuse and your BAC is determined to be 0.08 or higher, your drivers license will be destroyed by law enforcement and a paper permit will be provided to you. You may drive while on the paper permit until your criminal matter is resolved.
 
A full list of sanctions and consequences that appear at the Michigan Secretary of State website are as follows:
 

First Offense:

Operating While Intoxicated (OWI) or Operating With Any Presence of a Schedule 1 Drug or Cocaine (OWPD)

  • $100 to $500 fine and one or more of the following:
    • Up to 93 days in jail.
    • Up to 360 hours of community service.
  • Driver's license suspension for 30 days, followed by license restrictions for 150 days.
  • Possible vehicle immobilization.
  • Possible ignition interlock.
  • Six points added to driving record.

High Blood Alcohol Content (BAC of .17 or higher). This is one of the operating while intoxicated crimes, but it has harsher consequences.

  • One or more of the following:
    • Up to 180 days in jail.
    • $200 to $700 fine.
    • Up to 360 hours of community service.
  • Driver's license suspension for 1 year. Eligible for restrictions after 45 days of suspension if an ignition interlock device is installed on all vehicles the offender owns or intends to operate.
  • Possible metal license plate confiscation if the offender operates a vehicle without a properly installed ignition interlock device.
  • Mandatory vehicle immobilization if the offense is subsequently convicted for operating a vehicle without a properly installed ignition interlock device.
  • 6 points added to the offender's driving record.

Operating While Visibly Impaired

  • Up to a $300 fine, and one or more of the following:
    • Up to 93 days in jail.
    • Up to 360 hours of community service.
  • Driver's license restrictions for 90 days (180 days if impaired by a controlled substance).
  • Possible vehicle immobilization.
  • 4 points added to the offender's driving record.

Second Offense within 7 Years (any combination):

Operating While Intoxicated

  • $200 to $1000 fine, and one or more of the following:
    • 5 days to 1 year in jail.
    • 30 to 90 days of community service
  • Driver's license revocation and denial for a minimum of 1 year (minimum of 5 years if there was a prior revocation within 7 years).
  • License plate confiscation.
  • Vehicle immobilization for 90 to 180 days, unless the vehicle is forfeited.
  • Possible vehicle forfeiture.
  • 6 points added to the offender's driving record.

Operating While Visibly Impaired

  • $200 to $1,000 fine, and one or more of the following:
    • 5 days to 1 year in jail.
    • 30 to 90 days of community service.
  • Driver's license revocation and denial for a minimum of 1 year (minimum of 5 years if there was a prior revocation within 7 years).
  • License plate confiscation.
  • Vehicle immobilization for 90 to 180 days unless the vehicle is forfeited.
  • Possible vehicle forfeiture.
  • 4 points added to the offender's driving record.

Third Offense Within Lifetime (any combination) is a Felony

Operating While Intoxicated

  • $500 to $5,000 fine, and either of the following:
    • 1 to 5 years imprisonment
    • Probation, with 30 days to 1 year in jail.
  • 60 to 180 days community service.
  • Driver's license revocation and denial if there are 2 convictions within 7 years or 3 convictions within 10 years. The minimum period of revocation and denial is 1 year (minimum of 5 years if there was a prior revocation within 7 years).
  • License plate confiscation.
  • Vehicle immobilization for 1 to 3 years, unless the vehicle is forfeited.
  • Possible vehicle forfeiture.
  • Vehicle registration denial.
  • 6 points added to the offender's driving record.

Operating While Visibly Impaired

  • $500 to $5,000 fine, and either of the following:
    • 1 to 5 years imprisonment
    • Probation, with 30 days to 1 year in jail.
  • 60 to 180 days community service.
  • Driver's license revocation and denial if there are 2 convictions within 7 years or 3 convictions within 10 years. The minimum period of revocation and denial is 1 year (minimum of 5 years if there was a prior revocation within 7 years).
  • License plate confiscation.
  • Vehicle immobilization for 1 to 3 years, unless the vehicle is forfeited.
  • Possible vehicle forfeiture.
  • Vehicle registration denial.
  • 4 points added to the offender's driving record.

 

Causing Death or Serious Injury if Operating While Intoxicated, Operating While Visibly Impaired, Operating with Any Presence of Drugs, or Operating While License Suspended, Revoked or Denied (First Offense) These crimes are felonies.

  • Death -- Up to 15 years imprisonment, or a fine of $2,500 to $10,000, or both.
  • Injury -- Up to 5 years imprisonment, or a fine of $1,000 to $5,000, or both.
  • Emergency Responder Death --  Up to 20 years imprisonment, or a fine of $2,500 to $10,000, or both.
  • Driver's license revocation and denial for a minimum of 1 year (minimum of 5 years if there was a prior revocation within 7 years).
  • License plate confiscation.
  • Vehicle immobilization for up to 180 days, unless the vehicle is forfeited.
  • Possible vehicle forfeiture.
  • 6 points added to the offender's driving record.

Causing Death or Serious Injury if Operating While Intoxicated, Operating While Visibly Impaired, Operating with Any Presence of Drugs, or Operating While License Suspended, Revoked or Denied (Second Offense within 7 years) These crimes are felonies.

  • Death -- Up to 15 years imprisonment, or a fine of $2,500 to $10,000, or both.
  • Injury -- Up to 5 years imprisonment, or a fine of $1,000 to $5,000, or both.
  • Emergency Responder Death --  Up to 20 years imprisonment, or a fine of $2,500 to $10,000, or both.
  • Driver's license revocation and denial for a minimum of 1 year (minimum of 5 years if there was a prior revocation within 7 years).
  • License plate confiscation.
  • Vehicle immobilization for up to 180 days, unless the vehicle is forfeited.
  • Possible vehicle forfeiture.
  • 6 points added to the offender's driving record.

Open Intoxicants in a Motor Vehicle

  • Up to a $100 fine.
  • First offense --  No action taken against driver's license.
  • Second offense --  Driver's license is suspended for 30 days, followed by restrictions for 60 days.
  • Third offense --  Driver's license is suspended for 60 days, followed by restrictions for 305 days.
  • Alcohol screening may be required.
  • points added to the offender's driving record.

Driver's License Sanctions for Drivers Under Age 21

Zero Tolerance (under age 21)

First Offense

  • Up to a $250 fine, or up to 360 hours of community service, or both.
  • Driver's license is restricted for 30 days.
  • 4 points are added to the offender's driving record.

Second Offense with 7 years

  • One or more of the following:
    • Up to a $500 fine.
    • Up to 60 days of community service.
    • Up to 93 days in jail.
  • Driver's license suspension for 90 days. If there is a prior drunk or drugged driving conviction, there is a driver license revocation and denial for a minimum of 1 year (minimum of 5 years if there was a prior revocation within 7 years).
  • 4 points are added to the offender's driving record.

Person Under 21 Purchase/Consume/Possess Alcohol

  • First offense -- $100 fine. No driver's license sanction.
  • Second offense -- $200 fine. Driver's license is suspended for 30 days and restricted for 60 days.
  • Third offense -- $500 fine. Driver's license is suspended for 60 days and restricted for 305 days.
  • Alcohol screening may be required.
  • Community service may be required.

Person Under 21 Transporting or Possessing Alcohol in a Motor Vehicle

  • Up to a $100 fine.
  • Driver's license sanctions:
    • First offense --  No driver's license sanction.
    • Second offense --  Driver's license suspension for 30 days, and restriction for 60 days.
    • Third offense --  Driver's license suspension for 60 days, and restriction for 305 days.
  • Alcohol screening may be required.
  • Community service may be required.
  • Vehicle may be impounded for up to 30 days.
  • 2 points are added to the offender's driving record.

Using Fraudulent ID to Purchase Alcohol

  • Up to a $100 fine, or up to 93 days in jail, or both.
  • Driver's license is suspended for 90 days.
  • Alcohol screening may be required.

Driving While License Suspended, Revoked, or Denied

First Offense

  • Up to a $500 fine, or up to 93 days in jail, or both.
  • Mandatory additional license sanction.
  • 2 points added to the offender's driving record.

Second Offense

  • Up to a $1,000 fine, or up to 1 year in jail, or both.
  • Mandatory additional license sanction.
  • Vehicle may be immobilized for up to 180 days.
  • 2 points added to the offender's driving record.

Third Offense

  • Up to a $1,000 fine, or up to 1 year in jail, or both.
  • Mandatory additional license sanction.
  • 2 points added to the offender's driving record.
  • If there are 2 prior convictions within 7 years, there are additional consequences:
    • License plate confiscation.
    • Vehicle immobilization for 90 to 180 days.

Fourth Offense

  • Up to a $1,000 fine, or up to 1 year in jail, or both.
  • Mandatory additional license sanction.
  • 2 points added to the offender's driving record.
  • If there are 3 prior convictions within 7 years, there are additional consequences:
    • License plate confiscation.
    • Vehicle immobilization for 90 to 180 days.

Fifth Offense

  • Up to a $1,000 fine, or up to 1 year in jail, or both.
  • Mandatory additional license sanction.
  • 2 points added to the offender's driving record.
  • If there are 4 prior convictions within 7 years, there are additional consequences:
    • License plate confiscation.
    • Vehicle immobilization for 1 to 3 years

 

 

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