Michigan DUI Law

Michigan counties - map view

Michigan counties - map view


Michigan DUI video transcription

In Michigan, although you become adult at the age of 18, the liquor control laws define an adult as someone 21 years of age or older. So, Michigan enacted the Zero Tolerance law for people under the age of 21. Minors may not operate a motor vehicle with any bodily alcohol content. If you’ve been arrested in Michigan it’s important to contact an attorney right away to protect your rights.

Michigan DUI law Michigan DUI WARNING! If you refused to take a breath, blood or urine test after being arrested for OWI, OMVI or another alcohol related charge in Michigan, your license may be at risk of being suspended if you do not take appropriate action to demand an administrative hearing within 14 days after your arrest. Learn more about saving your driver's license following an arrest for OWI, OMVI or other related drunk driving charges in Michigan.

Drunk driving defense is a specialized area. Let one of the qualified DUI LAWS attorneys find a solution to your legal problem if you, or someone you care about, has been arrested for DUI or OWI. Contact a Michigan DUI LAWS lawyer near you for a free consultation by calling 1.800.DUI.LAWS.

Michigan drunk driving laws are sometimes referred to as OMVI or Michigan OWI laws. There are really three distinct drunk driving offenses in Michigan:

  1. Operating under the influence of intoxicating liquor;
  2. Driving with an unlawful bodily alcohol level/content; and
  3. Operating while impaired. Of these three, OWI is the least serious offense.

These are criminal offenses; therefore, to successfully prosecute drunk driving case against you, the prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the drunk driver was:

  1. operating a motor vehicle,
  2. while under the influence of alcohol, controlled substances or both, and
  3. alcohol materially or substantially affected operating the motor vehicle.

Another way a prosecutor will try to gain a drunk driving conviction is by violation of the "per se" law. This law relates only to body chemistry, and has nothing to do with alcohol impairment. In order to gain a conviction under this theory, the prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt, that

  1. a driver's blood or breath alcohol content (BAC) was greater than .08%,
  2. while he or she was operating his motor vehicle.

Michigan OWI requires a prosecutor to prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the driver was

  1. operating a vehicle,
  2. while alcohol visibly weakened or reduced his ability to operate his motor vehicle.

These criminal offenses can apply to adults or minors. In Michigan, although we become adults at age 18, the liquor control laws define an adult as someone 21 years of age or older. So, Michigan enacted the "Zero Tolerance" law for people under the age of 21. Minors may not operate a motor vehicle with any bodily alcohol content.

A conviction or plea of guilty of OUIL or driving with an excessive BAC, means a maximum sentence of up to $500.00 in fines plus the costs of prosecution, up to 93 days in jail and up to 45 days of community service. A second DUI, OUIL or UBAC in Michigan increases the fines plus costs up to $1,000.00, and imprisonment up to 1 year in jail.

A conviction or guilty plea to OWI will result in a maximum sentence up to $300.00 in fines plus costs, up to 93 days in jail and up to 45 days of community service.

A third time conviction for drunk driving will result in a felony punishable by 1 to 5 years imprisonment and a fine of up to $5,000.00.

On top of the above, a convicted person's license will be suspended or revoked for varying lengths of time depending on the circumstances. For a conviction of OUIL or UBAL/UBAC, a license will be suspended for not less than 6 months and not more than 2 years, without restriction for the first 30 days. If the drunk driver has a prior conviction, the license may be revoked. However, for a conviction of OWI, the license may be suspended for not less than 93 days or more than one year, but a restricted license is available immediately. A restricted license will allow the convicted person to drive to, from and during work, to alcohol treatment, school, community service or probation. He or she must carry proof of destination and hours to show law enforcement.

One of the toughest sanctions next to time in jail is when the sentencing judge confiscates the vehicle the drunk driver operated. The vehicle does not have to belong to the operator - it can be anyone else's vehicle. It doesn't matter if the vehicle is necessary for the other members of the drunk driver's family.

Possible punishments for a Michigan drunk driving conviction include:

Expungement of many criminal convictions is possible under Michigan law. However, the statute governing expungement in Michigan specifically precludes a person from even seeking to have a conviction for a traffic offense (including drunk driving) set-aside. The statute also precludes a Judge from setting aside such a conviction.

Expungement of Michigan criminal convictions can be a very complicated process, so it is critical to speak with an experienced lawyer to expunge a criminal conviction.

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