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DUI Laws in Michigan: DUI Penalties, 1st Offense DUI Charges
After being arrested, getting a DUI may result in unexpectedly tough penalties for your first DUI conviction. Convictions can include a wide variety of DUI punishments. Once this information is understood, the importance of locating and hiring the best available criminal defense lawyers for your DUI case will be apparent.
In reading about OWI-DUI consequences, the reader will encounter multiple abbreviations for drunk driving or intoxicated driving, but these need not distract you. A DWI charge for driving while intoxicated (DWI) is the same basic crime as OWI (operating while intoxicated) or DUI (driving under the influence). Every state in America has individually named its laws against "operating under the influence" of alcohol or drugs in its own way. And this is also true of the Michigan DUI laws.
Michigan may be the record holder for a state in legislating a wide variety of laws that use more than half dozen related acronyms (abbreviations). OWI is one, as is OWVI, UBAL and DUI. By far, the most common abbreviation for the crime of driving impaired in the United States is "DUI." Either DUI or DWI are the acronyms used in over 40 states.
What Happens when you Get a DUI for the First Time? In the State of Michigan, intoxicated driving is a serious offense, even for a first lifetime arrest. As you will read below, driving privileges can be lost, and a significant jail sentence can follow certain convictions of first offenders.
In reading this article about being arrested for drunken driving or drugged driving and then issued an OWI-DUI ticket you will learn startling information. Penalties for your first DUI conviction in Michigan are tougher than most other states. If convicted on a first offense OWI (operating while intoxicated), you can expect having multiple types of punishment for DUI.
Your Court sentence, for a first offense DUI conviction can result in:
- Having jail time to serve, especially in high-risk cases for drivers with high BAC readings, had a child in the car, or who have caused injury or death;
- Plus, offenders are required to perform at least 30-60 community service hours while they are on probation;
- The DUI sentence must include paying fines and surcharges;
- The convicted person's vehicle can be immobilized by court order for as much as 180 days;
By operation of law, that 1st DUI offender in Michigan will have restrictions placed on her or his driver license, (or right to drive in Michigan, if licensed in another state). This penalty alone can pose problems for many first time DUI arrestees, if later convicted.
Two broad categories exist in Michigan relating to intoxicated driving. In the Great Lakes State, a person can be convicted for operating a vehicle while:
- Being intoxicated by alcohol or drugs (OWI) or who is under the influence of a drug or alcohol (or a combination of these) would be DUI, or
- Any operator who is "visibly impaired" by either alcohol or drugs This Michigan crime is called "OWVI," the acronym for "Operating While Visibly Impaired"). Another way to be arrested for OWVI in Michigan is by driving while having any measurable amount of a Schedule 1 controlled substance (heroin, cocaine, crack, crystal meth, etc.) in that driver's system.
For the first category shown above, any vehicle operator in Michigan having a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 grams percent or higher or who is materially impaired by drugs (of any type) or by alcohol, is intoxicated or found to be under the influence of that impairing liquid or substance.
On the other hand, to be convicted of the second category, call an OWVI in Michigan, the Prosecutor only needs to put up "evidence" (often through police video and police officer testimony) to try to convince a jury of the impairment or lessened ability." The prosecutor would seek to use field sobriety test evidence or other evidence gathered at the roadside, to prove that the driver's ability to operate that motor vehicle was visibly impaired.
The proof needs to be to such a degree that the evidence show that the accused citizen (from the impairing substance or drug) had his or her ability reduced from that of a normal, cautious driver. Michigan law places no obligation on the prosecution team to demonstrate that the arrested driver was materially impaired, and slight impairment would be what the jury is looking for.
On a first DUI offense, the statutory DUI penalties and consequences of an OWI are more severe than those for an OWVI. This article outlines the possible penalties for both offenses on a first OWI conviction.Criminal Penalties for a First DUI Conviction
What determines if this is a DUI first offense, under MI DUI laws? For an OWI charge or OWVI offense to be considered a DWI first offense in Michigan, that driver must have had no prior operating under the influence convictions within the prior seven (7) years. In Michigan, this time measurement is made by taking the prior conviction date (not the arrest date) and measuring up to the new arrest date.
In Michigan driving impaired cases, the penalties for your first DUI conviction include:
First offense DUI Jail time. The judge decides about jail time. She or he can order DUI punishment of up to 93 days in jail for either an OWI conviction or for being convicted of an OWVI. However, for DUIs involving a post-arrest test revealing a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.17 grams % or more is part of the evidence, the maximum jail time is as much as 180 days. A first offense OWI causing injury or death can result in imprisonment of up to 15 years or more, in some egregious cases.
License Suspension. Whether you can get an ignition interlock device restricted license is controlled by what your OWI lawyer has negotiated, and your prior driving record, but otherwise is up to the Michigan Secretary of State, not the sentencing Judge.
By operation of law, on an alcohol-related OWI, 30 days of total suspension, followed by 150 days on a restricted license, for Michigan license holders. A less serious OWVI charge, for impaired driving means that the 30 days of "hard" suspension can be avoided, but that an immediate restricted license (for 90 days) would be available. On the other hand, a conviction for a high BAC case (0.17 grams percent or higher), will result in a total loss of all privileges for 45 days, and then the driver is only eligible for an interlock-restricted license for the next 320 days.
Community Service hours to perform. An OWI first in Michigan or 1st OWVI conviction may also result in having to serve up to 360 hours of community service.
The DUI fine Amount. The fine is between $100 to $500 for a first OWI conviction. If the driver had a BAC of .17% or greater, the fine will be $200 to $700. The fine for a first OWVI cannot exceed $300.
Vehicle loss can follow a Michigan DUI conviction. While not mandated on a conviction of a first DUI-OWI or OWVI, the sentencing judge is permitted to immobilize any vehicles owned by the convicted citizen for up to 180 days. An OWI or OWVI conviction can also result in complete vehicle forfeiture.
Passenger under 16. OWI and OWVI offenses involving passengers under 16 years of age carry enhanced penalties. The driver must pay a mandatory fine of $200 to $1,000 and serve either 30 to 90 days of community service or five days to one year in jail. Finally, the judge will order the driver's vehicle to be immobilized if not already forfeited.