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DUI First Offense Charges
Most of the people arrested in Michigan for DUI are first offenders. In fact, many of the people the Michigan DUI Lawyers at the Barone Defense Firm represent have no prior criminal record of any kind, and some have never even been previously stopped by the police. This does not mean that such drivers get off easily. Even people with no prior contact with the police can end up with serious penalties. Also, some first offense DUIs are considered felonies, and these charges are discussed below.
The legal blood alcohol content (BAC) limit for drivers over 21 in Michigan is .08%. If you are found driving while having a BAC of this level or higher, you can be charged with driving under the influence, or DUI. The state's Zero Tolerance law makes it a crime for underage drivers to operate a vehicle with a BAC above .02%. The state's Super Drunk law makes it an even more serious crime to have a BAC at or above .17%.
BAC is typically determined through a breath, blood, or urine chemical test. Please note that even if you refuse to submit to a chemical test, you can still be charged with drunk driving and face penalties and a suspended driver's license.Misdemeanor DUI Charges
A first-offense OWI charge with no exacerbating circumstances, is classified as a misdemeanor. If found guilty, the judge could order you to:
- Spend up to 93 days in jail
- Pay up to $500 in fines
- Perform 360 hours of community service
- Complete a court-approved alcohol and drug education program
In addition, your license penalties may include a 30-day suspension and 150 days of restricted driving. If it is a Super Drunk first offense, you could face up to 180 days in jail and a one-year suspension of your driver's license. If you were involved in an accident that resulted in serious bodily injury or death, you could face felony charges.Felony DUI Charges
A DUI arrest can be enhanced from misdemeanor to a felony when a death or serious injury has occurred. Depending on the circumstances, a person charged with this kind of DUI offense can be looking at up to 15 years in prison. If the case is charged as a second-degree murder rather than DUI causing death, the penalty is even greater.
Technically, a person with prior offenses can still be considered a first offender under the law. The look-back periods for second offense DUI is 7 years and for felony DUI we have lifetime look-back. Consequently, a second DUI arrest that comes more than 7 years after a single prior DUI offense must be written as a first offense DUI. This is not so when it comes to felony drunk driving, because the look-back period is lifetime. However, prosecutors sometimes write a new DUI arrest as first offense when a driver's prior offenses are very old, usually meaning more than 20 years old. In these cases, even though a person could be charged as a felon, the prosecutor gives them a break and writes the new offense as a misdemeanor.Collateral Consequences
With a misdemeanor DUI, even after you complete the terms of your sentence, you may face other collateral consequences such as ineligibility for certain jobs or educational loans, academic probation, increased auto insurance rates, and even the loss of your job. With a felony DUI you could also be looking at a loss of your second amendment rights, ability to vote and other very serious collateral consequences. Be sure to discuss all these potential consequences with your experienced DUI lawyer before you plead guilty.