Drunk driving is more than a traffic violation – it is a serious crime with lasting consequences. If you have recently been charged with driving under the influence in Michigan, it is important to hire a qualified DUI attorney to provide a thorough defense and to ensure that your rights are upheld during your legal proceedings.
Michigan DUI penalties are not limited to court-related consequences; in fact, there are many other consequences that may occur in your personal life that stem from a drunk-driving conviction.
If you are convicted of a DUI in Michigan, it is on your record forever – a drunk-driving offense is not eligible for expunction. For a misdemeanor, you face up to one year in jail. If convicted of felony DUI, you might spend up to five years in prison. You can pay up to $5,000 in fines (plus surcharges) and you may be ordered to have an ignition interlock device installed in your vehicle, at your expense. Driving under the influence is also the only motor vehicle offense that is tracked by the FBI’s database.
Your driver’s license will be suspended or revoked, though the length will vary depending on prior drinking and driving convictions. Multiple offenders have lifetime license revocations, though they may be eligible to request a hearing for reinstatement.
If convicted of DUI, your auto insurance rates will go up and you will be required to have an SR-22 policy for three years. Your life insurance company may deny your policy or even raise your rates, considering you high risk. The same applies to your health insurance, if you have an individual policy.
A DUI conviction can also affect your employment. When applying for a job, you will be forced to check the “yes” box that asks if you have any convictions on your record. Some employers will terminate employees immediately if convicted of drunk driving. There are also some professional licenses that may be revoked for having a DUI on your record.
Michigan DUI First Offense
Being arrested and charged with DUI/OWI doesn’t just happen to bad people. For many, this is the first time that they have ever been in trouble with the law. Unfortunately, the penalties for first-time Michigan DUI offense are quite severe. If you have recently found yourself charged with drunk driving, your first call should be to a qualified DUI defense attorney.
In Michigan, the legal alcohol limit for those over the age of 21 is .08 percent. If your blood alcohol content, or BAC, is over the legal limit, you will be charged with drunk driving. You may also be charged with drunk driving if the officer believes that your ability to drive is substantially lessened by the consumption of alcohol (OWI) or lessened to the point it would be noticed by another person (OWVI).
A first DUI offense, without extenuating circumstances, is classified as a misdemeanor. There is the possibility of jail time involved in the sentence – the maximum jail sentence is 93 days, though most first-time offenders will not spend that much time in jail. Judges in some courts do routinely give jail time for even first time offenders. Your experienced DUI attorney will be able to tell you if you are facing such a judge.
If you are charged with OWVI, you may pay extremely large fines. If you are charged with OWI because you are OUIL or BAC Per Se, then you will spend even more in fines.
For an OWVI offense, your license is restricted for 90 days, while an OWI offense because of OUIL or BAC Per Se results in a 30 day suspension and 150 days of a license restriction. In some cases, the court may order that your vehicle is immobilized, or impounded.
You may be ordered to attend a court-approved DUI/OWI School. The judge may also sentence you to perform a maximum of as many as 360 hours of community service.
Michigan has enacted a Zero Tolerance Law, which was created to deter minors from drinking any alcohol before operating a vehicle. A minor with a BAC over .02 percent is in violation of this law. This is a misdemeanor, and the penalties include up to 360 hours of community service and very large fines.
It is important to know that a DUI stays on your driving record for life. This may affect your insurance coverage and rates as well as current and future employment.