Driver’s License Sanctions for First Offense Drunk Driving Convictions in Michigan

If you have never been arrested for drunk driving before in Michigan, or anywhere else in the country, then there are three possible drunk driving charges in Michigan.  The driver’s license sanction for each offense is described below.

High BAC/Super Drunk OWI

According to Michigan’s Criminal Code, section 257.625(c) a driver is considered “super drunk,” meaning they have a high BAC (bodily alcohol content) if that person has an alcohol content of 0.17 grams or more in their blood, breath, or urine.

The driver license sanction for this is a one year suspension.  During the first 45 days of this period no driving of any kind is permitted.  During the following 320 days, restricted privileges are allowed, but only in a car equipped with a BAIID (Breath Alcohol Ignition Interlock Device).

First Offense OWI – Operating While Intoxicated

A person convicted of a first offense non-high BAC OWI (drunk driving) in Michigan will face a driver license suspension of 180 days.  During the first 30 days of this period no driving of any kind is permitted.  During the following 150 days, restricted privileges are allowed.  No BAIID is required.

First Offense OWVI – Operating While Visibly Impaired

A person convicted of a first offense impaired driving in Michigan will face a driver license restriction of 90 days.  There is no suspension whatsoever, and BAIID is required.

Summary of Driver License Sanctions:

  • High BAC OWI = 45 suspension /320 restricted w/BAIID.
  • OWI = 30 suspension /150 restricted no BAIID.
  • OWVI = 90 restricted.

The restricted driving allowed for each offense is the same.  According to Michigan Traffic Law, section 257.319(18), a restricted license issued after a drunk driving conviction shall permit the person to whom it is issued to operate a vehicle under 1 or more of the following circumstances:

  • To/from/during the person’s employment or occupation.
  • To and from any combination of the following:
  • The person’s residence.
  • The person’s work location.
  • An alcohol or drug education or treatment program as ordered by the court.
  • The court probation department.
  • A court-ordered community service program.
  • An educational institution at which the person is enrolled as a student.
  • A place of regularly occurring medical treatment for a serious condition for the person or a member of the person’s household or immediate family.

The law also indicates, in (19) that while driving with a restricted license, the person shall carry proof of his or her destination and the hours of any employment, class, or other reason for traveling and shall display that proof upon a peace officer’s request.  This has never been further explained, nor is it clear exactly what constitutes such proof.

This summary only applies to cases where the offender has no prior drunk driving offenses anywhere in the country during the prior 7 years, and where the driver otherwise had full driving privileges before being convicted of the applicable drunk driving offense.

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