All firearms are inherently dangerous, so naturally, it is against the law in Michigan to possess or use one under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Because of the danger posed by individuals who violate this law, penalties are quite significant and are set forth in the statute found at Michigan Compiled Laws sec. 750.237.
This statute defines “under the influence” the following three ways;
- You are “under the influence” of alcohol, drugs or a combination of alcohol or drugs, and/or
- You have a bodily alcohol level (BAC) of .08 or more, or are;
- You are impaired by alcohol, drugs or a combination of drugs and alcohol.
This crime is categorized as a misdemeanor punishable by possible imprisonment for up to 93 days. Additionally, if you are found guilty of this crime, you may also be required to pay a fine of not more than $100.00 for carrying or possessing a firearm, or both, and not more than $500.00 for using or discharging a firearm, or both.
If you are under the influence and cause a serious impairment of a body function by the discharge or use of a firearm, then you could be found guilty of a felony. This felony is punishable by imprisonment for up to 5 years. Alternatively, you could be ordered to pay a fine of not less than $1,000.00 or more than $5,000.00, or you could be required to do both.
A serious impairment of a body function is defined by the statute to include loss of an organ, or any limb, a hand, foot, finger, eye or ear, or the loss of use of any of these things. It also includes the loss or substantial impairment of a bodily function, serious permanent disfigurement, a coma, or brain damage, mental impairment, almost any broken bone, and almost any sort of serious bruising.
If you are a CPL holder, action will be taken against your concealed permit. For more information see our article entitled Michigan Concealed Weapon Under the Influence Charges.
The three criteria identified above; (1) under the influence, (2) with unlawful BAC and; (3) while visibly impaired, are all identical to the drunk driving statute. This means it’s up to a jury to decide if you are either under the influence or impaired by alcohol or drugs, and they would make this determination based on a police officer or other witness’ description of your behavior. In other words, their observation of you. If the firearm is found during a drunk driving investigation for example, then the jury might rely on field sobriety tests to make this determination. If you took a breath or blood test, and that test shows that you have .08 or more alcohol, or illegal drugs, or even prescription drugs, then the jury can find you guilty based on this evidence alone. However, to do so, the jury must unanimously agree that the breath or blood test is reliable and must make this determination based only on the evidence presented by the prosecutor.
If you’ve been charged with possession of a firearm under the influence of alcohol or drugs than it is good to think about finding a lawyer who is well versed in issues of drug and alcohol metabolism, field sobriety testing and breath and blood testing.