First OWI Offense in Michigan: What Should I Expect?

First OWI Offense in Michigan and What to Expect

In Michigan, it is a crime for an individual to drive with a bodily alcohol content over .08 or while impaired by the use of a substance (including prescription or street drugs). Even if you’re not at a .08, driving “buzzed” can still land you in trouble if an officer determines you cannot safely operate a vehicle. You can get into big trouble if you get behind the wheel after using drugs, alcohol, or both at once.

Additionally, Michigan has a “High BAC law” that has enhanced penalties for anyone caught driving with a bodily alcohol content of .17 or higher. This law was enacted in 2010 as a punitive measure to discourage drivers from taking to the roads when they are plainly unable to drive safely (however, in the time period since it was enacted, data show the number of drunk driving accidents and fatalities has stayed relatively level).

An arrest for drunk driving won’t preclude you from ever getting a job, as some scare campaigns may claim, but you do need to keep yourself informed throughout the process. Working with an experienced OWI lawyer can help you minimize the consequences of an arrest.

What Are the Penalties of a First OWI Conviction?

Facing OWI charges isn’t the same as being found guilty of the crime; it’s just the precursor. If you are convicted, you could face penalties including:

  • Fines of $100 - $500
  • Jail Time of up to 93 days
  • Community Service of up to 360 hours
  • License Suspension for up to 180 days
  • Driver’s License Points (6)

What if My First OWI Is a High BAC (“Super Drunk”) Charge?

Michigan defines a bodily alcohol content at or above .17 (more than twice the legal limit) a “high BAC.” You may know the graduated penalties as the “super drunk” law—which, while not a legal term, does define its purpose quite well. Penalties are harsher for drivers at this level, presumably because they should be well aware of how intoxicated they are. They include:

  • Fines of $200 - $700
  • Jail Time of up to 180 days
  • Community Service of up to 360 hours
  • License Suspension for one year
  • Restricted License after 45 days
  • Driver’s License Points (6)
  • Alcohol Treatment program mandated by the court must be completed
  • Ignition Interlock (“Blow and Go”) Device installed in your car

Can I Avoid a Criminal Record After an OWI Arrest?

Though an OWI won’t give you a felony record, it will show up as a misdemeanor should anyone run a background check on you. Don’t give up hope if you haven’t been convicted. You may be able to dispute or negotiate the charges so you can have a second chance.

If you or someone you know has been charged with an OWI or any form of drunk driving offense, you have the right to representation. Our experienced criminal defense attorneys are here to help when you end up in a hard situation. Facing criminal charges can cause stress and anxiety. You don’t want to make a nervous mistake during an important hearing. Let an experienced attorney assist with your OWI defense.

Tanis Schultz attorneys are here to protect your rights and guide you through the criminal justice system. Call us at (616) 227-3737 for a free, confidential consultation.

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