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DUI Causing Injury or Death in Michigan

In Michigan, if you operate a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs and thereby cause the death of another, you will face prosecution for a serious felony criminal offense. Maximum punishment for a conviction may include as much as 15-20 years in prison. A drunk driving or drugged driving causing serious injury to another is also a serious felony offense and is punishable by up to 10 years in prison.

The Michigan vehicle code indicates that you may be guilty of a felony charge of DUI causing death or injury of another person regardless of whether your charging instrument indicates operating while intoxicated (OWI), operating while visibly impaired (OWVI), operating with a presence of drugs (OWPD), or operating with a suspended, revoked, or denied license.

Prosecution for OWI causing death, or the serious impairment of a body function usually starts with a prosecutor filing a complaint. In this case the complaint is the charging instrument and is necessary to be filed by the prosecuting attorneys before prosecution may begin. Rarely the case may begin with a civil infraction, but then a complaint must be filed subsequently.

The filing of this charging instrument may be delayed by weeks or even months as the police officers continue to collect evidence against you. This delay can be caused by delays in getting your blood tested or having the vehicle's event data recorder evaluated.

Intoxicated Operation Causing Death or Injury are Complex Criminal Matters

DUI causing death cases involve blood test evidence.DUI cases involving injury or death or among the most complicated criminal charges of all. There are three reasons for this.

Complicated evidence - The prosecuting attorney will seek admission of a blood test result showing the level of alcohol and/or drugs found in your body. Also, an accident reconstruction, often including an evaluation of the vehicles event data recorder will be utilized by the prosecutor. Finally, the evidence will include a corner's cause of death report and/or medical records of the injured party or deceased.

Complicated Law - the second reason these cases are so difficult to defend is the underlying case and statutory law is extremely complication. Particularly as it relates to the issue of causation. This issue is described more fully below.

Complicated Politics - the third reason intoxicated operation causing injury or death are complex is the political backdrop. These cases often carry publicity, and the prosecuting attorney will be aware their actions are being scrutinized. Not just by the media, but by the public and victim or the grieving family in the case of death. This makes negotiations for charge reduction or sentence reduction extraordinarily difficult.

Possible Defenses to a Michigan DUI Causing Death or Serious Injury

The basic elements of a causing death or injury case are that (1) you operated a motor vehicle while intoxicated, (2) the operation of your motor vehicle caused the death or serious injury of another. These elements provide the following possible defenses.

Intoxication - Your criminal defense attorney will seek to demonstrate that the blood test is flawed in some way, unreliable or inadmissible. Because there are different ways to prove intoxication at trial, the police officer’s opinion that you were intoxicated must also be questioned. If successful, then the prosecuting attorney will be forced to either dismiss the case or amend the charges to a less serious offense. This might include reckless driving causing injury or death or moving violation causing injury or death.

Causation - to prove that your operation caused the injury or death, the prosecuting attorney must prove both factual as well as proximate causation. Both types of causation have a separate kind of legal analysis, much of which is borrowed from black letter Tort law.

Cause of Death - The death must have occurred due to the operation of the vehicle. If the cause of death can be contested, then charge must be amended to a simple misdemeanor OWI, with no felony enhancement.

Nature of Injuries - the injuries sustained must qualify by statute as creating serious disfigurement or cause a serious impairment of a body function.

Penalties for Causing Injury or Death

Incarceration for long periods guaranteed for conviction of Michigan OWI causing death or injury.If you are involved in an accident while driving under the influence, you may face the following penalties for causing personal injury or death:

  • Prison sentence of up to five years and a fine between $1,000 and $5,000 for the serious injury of another person
  • Prison sentence of up to 15 years and a fine between $2,500 and $10,000 for the death of another person
  • Prison sentence of up to 20 years and a fine between $2,500 and $10,000 for the death of an emergency responder
  • Revocation of your driver's license for a minimum of one year; if you had a prior revocation within the past seven years, the minimum revocation will be five years
  • Immobilization of your vehicle for 180 days
  • Confiscation of your license plate
  • Six points added to your Michigan state driving record
  • $1,000 Driver Responsibility fee for two consecutive years

Higher Penalties for High BAC

If you are involved in an accident that causes serious injury or death and your blood alcohol content was .17 or higher, and you have a prior conviction for OWI within the prior 7 years, then you will face an additional five years of imprisonment. This is added to the maximum allowable sentence. This means you could be facing up to 20 years in prison for a single death, and up to 10 years for a single occurrence of causing serious injury.

Finding a Top Michigan DUI Lawyer to Help

Patrick Barone author of Defending Drinking DriversThe criminal defense attorneys at the Barone Defense Firm all have extensive training and have acquired the specialized knowledge necessary to contest the scientific evidence. Also, we all have many years of experience handling causing death and injury cases, and therefore, are well versed on the law.

All the lawyers are legal book or book chapter authors and have demonstrated their expertise among their peers. Call today for a free consultation. We will spend the time to get to know you and your case and explain what we can do to help. All of this is free of charge. Call us today.

Call Today! FREE Consultation Lawyer and Receive Immediate Attention for Your Criminal Law Case Patrick T. Barone is a Michigan Super Lawyer, who has maintained continuous top attorney ratings since 2007. In addition, the Michigan native is the author of multiple books on OWI, DUI and criminal law. The OUIL attorney near me has lectured at over 80 legal seminars all over America. He leads Barone Defense Firm in providing aggressive legal warriors for each client's criminal case.

Contact us 24 hours a day at our law firm’s easy to remember toll-free number, 1-877-ALL-MICH or 877-255-6424, for a free criminal case review. The Michigan attorneys near me at Barone Defense Firm travel the entire Great Lakes State, to help citizens in legal trouble in Michigan for alleged criminal law violations.

For your FREE lawyer consultation, call today to learn how to protect yourself from a possible unwarranted conviction. What do you have to lose, when the free legal advice with our litigation team’s criminal lawyers near me can answer many tough questions?

Client Reviews
Patrick Barone is the ONLY choice for DUI defense. He was realistic from the start and made it a point to look at my case before taking my money. As a business owner, when I think of attorneys, I think of the "shark infested waters. Patrick is a shark alright, but his prey is not the client; it's justice for his client. Ten stars Patrick!! Chris F.
Attorney Patrick Barone was very helpful and helped me understand the charge and sentence absolutely clearly. He also guided me through step by step helping me form a statement. His instructions were clear and detailed. It was obvious he cared about me understanding every important detail within my case. I would absolutely recommend this defense firm to anyone in need. Aaron B.
The Barone Defense Firm is the firm I recommend. They are truly concerned about the person, not just the legal issue, but the person as well. They are the most knowledgeable defense firm that I am aware of, having actually written the book on DWI Defense. If you are faced with a DWI you will not find a more professional and skilled law firm. But, most importantly, they care about how the accused individual recovers his or her life when the case is complete. Very remarkable group of lawyers. William H.