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Felony Drunk Driving Penalties

Michigan has adopted sentencing guidelines that apply to all felony cases including felony drunk driving. In Michigan, felony drunk driving with injury or death is a "crime against the person" and a class "C" felony, and is punishable by up to 15 years. There is no minimum sentence for these more serious drunk driving offenses.

Michigan's other felony drunk driving laws[i] require that an individual convicted of a violation after two prior convictions that is sentenced to a probationary term must be also sentenced to no less than 30 days in the county jail, with 48 hours being served consecutively.

This would be considered a "standard" felony drunk driving in Michigan, which is a "crime against public safety" and a class "E" felony.[ii] This is the category and class that will apply to all third offense drunk driving cases in Michigan.

Sentencing Range

In most instances, felony drunk drivers who have not injured or killed anyone will have sentence guideline ranges of either 0-6 or 0-9. Certain things, like prior criminal offenses of any kind, and very high breath or blood test results, will increase the guidelines. The same is true of "habitual offenders," that is, those who have more than one felony conviction of any kind.

Bear in mind that the Michigan drunk driving law requires a minimum sentence of 1-5 years, with the first 30 days served behind bars, at least 48 hours of which must be consecutive. So, even though the guidelines say, for example, 0-6, you must still serve at least 30 days in jail.

If you are facing a felony drunk driving charge then it is best to hire an experienced lawyer who can help you obtain the best possible sentence. At the Barone Defense Firm we have handled hundreds of felony cases, and typically handle 20-30 per felony drunk driving cases each year.

Sentencing Guidelines Addendum

As indicated in the sentencing manual itself: [I]n general, the statutory sentencing guidelines apply only to felony offenses for which the penalty prescribed is an indeterminate sentence, and the sentencing court retains discretion in imposing an offender's sentence. That is, the guidelines are not applicable to offenses for which the applicable statute establishes a mandatory determinate penalty or a mandatory penalty of life imprisonment for conviction of the offense. [iii] Consequently, the sentencing guidelines will only apply to Michigan felony drunk driving.

Additionally, the statutory sentencing guidelines apply to listed felony offenses[iv] that were committed on or after January 1, 1999.[v] The statutory sections listing the felony offenses to which the guidelines apply contain brief descriptions of the felonies listed there "for assistance only."[vi] The language contained in the statute defining the felony offense itself governs application of the sentencing guidelines.[vii] The statutory sentencing guidelines in effect on the date the offense was committed govern the calculation of an offender's minimum sentence.[viii]

When an offender is convicted of multiple offenses, a sentencing information report (SIR) should be completed for the sentencing offense that has the highest crime class. In instances where the sentences imposed will be served consecutively, an SIR should be completed for every crime that will be served consecutively.


[i] MCLA § 257.625(9)(c)(ii)

[ii] 2009 Michigan felony list by statute number

[iii] MCL 769.34(5).

[iv] MCL 777.11 to 777.19

[v] MCL 769.34(2).

[vi] MCL 777.6; MCL 777.11 to 777.19

[vii] MCL 777.6.

[viii] MCL 769.34(2).

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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.
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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.
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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.