What Should I Expect on a Michigan First Offense OWI Charge?

First, our OWI law firm in Michigan will answer the top 9 questions about the OWI meaning. Other than one letter, little difference between OWI and DUI exists.

A Michigan first offense OWI charge carries severe conviction penalties including jail time community service hours, court fines, and possibly job loss. Look for an OWI lawyer near me whose legal services include trial experience and plea bargaining strategies.

  1. What is OWI, in the State of Michigan? A first-offense OWI in Michigan is a crime categorized as a misdemeanor in Michigan, unless the number of offenses reached a 3rd OWI in Michigan. Our state still uses different acronyms for being over the legal limit (OUIL).
  2. What’s the difference between DUI and OWI? Each acronym stands for the same general crime, drunken driving, or drugged driving. Each state’s legislature names its laws on impaired driving or intoxicated driving. Generally, DUI is for “driving under the influence.” O.W.I. stands for operating while impaired in Michigan.
  3. DUI vs OWI. Which has harsher punishment, OWI vs DUI? The acronym is irrelevant and offers no meaningful difference between an OWI conviction and a DUI conviction. The underlying minimum punishment scheme and loss of driving privileges are what really determine whether another state’s driving while intoxicated laws are more punitive.
  4. How similar is an OWI vs DWI in Minnesota? The acronyms are very similar in terms of substantially increasing punishments for repeat offenders. DWI can either mean that a police officer charged a person with driving while intoxicated (as in Texas) or driving while impaired, as in North Carolina and several other states.
  5. Is an OWI a felony? In Michigan, a third OWI in a driver’s lifetime will be accused as a felony OWI offense in the Great Lakes State.
  6. Why does Michigan call its drunk driving offense “operating while intoxicated?” The Legislature in Michigan changed its wording to make citizens be aware that a stationary vehicle with a drunk driver inside still can have “physical control” and can be prosecuted for intoxicated operation.
  7. I saw in the news that Michigan has a new expungement law. Who is eligible for a Michigan OWI expungement? Two 2020 house bills 4219 and 4220 were enacted six months prior to the effective date of these new laws. The new laws required that only one OWI (from any state) can be on that person’s criminal history, and then she or he has a waiting period of ten (10) years.

What is the difference between an OWI misdemeanor and a Michigan felony drunk driving charge? Your criminal defense lawyer will explain how your case facts can lead to a more serious felony charge.

Any other drunk driving convictions in any jurisdiction make that person seeking expunction ineligible. The initial effective date of the primary law is April 11, 2021. An automatic expungement law takes effect April 11, 2023, too, after the attorney general sets up this processing. Also be aware that this law can only control Michigan criminal records and does not change federal criminal records, which still will show the conviction.

  1. How long does a Michigan OWI conviction stay on my record? For the remainder of your life, subject to the foregoing answers in Answer 7.
  2. Can an OWI attorney negotiate a Michigan OWI plea bargain that saves my driving privileges? The answer here is possibly yes, but likely “no.” The final disposition of an OWI in Michigan automatically will correlate to loss of driving privileges, for certain crimes. You may qualify (at some point) for using an ignition interlock device, after you prove rehabilitation and a conviction at trial or if you plead guilty to OWI.

In a few states, like South Carolina, an OWI lawyer in that state can negotiate “down” to a lesser criminal charge, but the South Carolina DMV still imposes the correct revocation or suspension period based upon which number offense the crime represents.

A first-offense OWI in Michigan will stay on your permanent driving record for life. Michigan does have an expungement law but ask your DUI lawyer near me if you qualify.Drunk driving cases are taken very seriously by the courts, and a conviction of a first offense OWI can carry with it serious consequences. A defense lawyer near me in Grand Rapids MI will work hard to get you the most favorable case outcome.

A conviction for first offense OWI will carry with it fines, costs, and driver license sanctions. There will also be a term of probation, sometimes as long as 18 months. Most first offenders do not go to jail, though jail time is always a possibility. There are a few notable exceptions, and some judges in Michigan do put first-time offenders in jail.

Also, there is the possibility of a variety of collateral consequences. The most common of these include loss of a CPL, increased insurance costs, difficulty, or impossibility of renting a car, and other travel-related difficulties.

Specifically, the statute in Michigan addressing drunk driving, which is found at MCLA 257.625, et. seq., indicates as follows for a first offense OWI:

(9) If a person is convicted of (OWI first offense):

(a) The person is guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by 1 or more of the following:

(i) Community service for not more than 360 hours.

(ii) Imprisonment for not more than 93 days.

(iii) A fine of not less than $100.00 or more than $500.00

Additionally, the secretary of state will suspend the driver’s operator’s license for 180 days. There shall be no driving at all for the first 30 days. The offender may drive, on a restricted basis only, for the remaining 150 days.

Everything explained above only applies to a “regular” first offense OWI only. If a person has a prior offense within the prior 7 years or has two prior offenses within the past 10 years, then the penalties are far more draconian.

Also, if the driver’s BAC, meaning their breath, blood, or urine test shows a bodily alcohol content of 0.17 or greater, then they can be charged with a “super drunk driving.” Again, much more serious sanctions apply for super drunk driving cases. There are also differences for those drivers who are under 21 years of age, and for commercial drivers.

All of this assumes that you are convicted as charged. A skillful drunk driving defense lawyer can often persuade the prosecuting attorney to reduce the charge, thereby reducing the penalties. You may also have defenses to your case that could result in your first offense OWI charges be dismissed altogether, or even further reduced. Finally, you may have an excellent case for trial.

The Barone Defense Firm Travels Statewide to Defend Those Facing DUI Charges

Michigan’s Barone Defense Firm has OWI lawyers near me in Oakland County, MI that travel statewide to cover OWI cases, including felony OWI charges. Plus, we have other office locations in Michigan. In fact, Monroe Michigan is one of the State’s busiest impaired driving areas, if you need our assistance for your DUI lawyer Monroe, MI, contact us.

Our DUI attorney law group is one of only a handful of law firms in Michigan that:

(a) travels statewide;

(b) limits our Michigan lawyers from any other type of law practice except criminal defense; Most other firms also handle family law, personal injury or other practice areas, and not just criminal cases;

(c) has three Super Lawyers on their legal team; and

(d) has a nationally known DUI law book author leading the law office’s practice.

Defending drinking drivers in Michigan is what the Barone Defense Firm does day in and day out. We are your OWI lawyers near me in Grand Rapids and on the upper and lower peninsulas of Michigan.

Why you should consider hiring our Michigan attorneys near me. If you are seeking answers about drinking and driving charges of DUI-drugs in any state, do not hesitate to call our OWI attorneys near me in Michigan for a referral or legal advice regarding your Michigan driver’s license. Patrick Barone, criminal defense attorney Michigan, wrote the book on DUI laws in Michigan.

Michigan criminal lawyer Patrick Barone can be reached at the Barone Defense Firm law office at (248) 306-9158 7 days a week. Our attorneys offer a free initial case review of your criminal case, including federal cases. Payment plans are available. Call our criminal defense attorneys if you face driving under the influence, embezzlement, federal, or maintenance convictions an we will do our best to keep a criminal conviction off of your clean record.

Contact Information