DUI in Michigan – Driver’s License Penalties

As a Criminal Defense Lawyer who handles a substantial number of DUI Cases each year in Macomb, Oakland and Wayne Counties, there are some questions that I am asked again and again. Chief among them are questions about what will happen to the Driver’s License. This article will focus on what happens to a person’s Driver’s License as a result of an OWI (Drunk Driving) conviction.

Let’s begin with the arrest part first. Under Michigan Law, when a Police Officer arrests someone for Drunk Driving, they must confiscate and destroy that person’s Driver’s License. In its place, the person will be given a Michigan Temporary Driving Permit, sometimes called a “paper license.” Because the person is presumed innocent until proven guilty, that paper license is every bit as good as the original which it replaces. In other words, a person still has the same license they did before the arrest, except that their picture ID has been replaced by the “paper license.”

OWI is the actual name for DUI or Drunk Driving in Michigan. It means Operating While Intoxicated. This offense carries 6 points, a mandatory 6-month suspension of the Driver’s License (with a restricted license that is granted after the first 30 days of no driving), and carries fine of up to $500, plus Court Costs. This usually means a person will be paying somewhere between $700 to $1500 in total fines and costs, depending on which Court is handling the case.

OWVI, or Impaired Driving, is the term for the less-severe form of Drunk Driving or Operating Under the Influence of Drugs (OUID), which is discussed below. This charge carries 4 points, a 90 day restriction of the Driver’s License, a fine of up to $300, plus Court Costs. As the Lawyer representing a person charged with OWI, I will, if the case against them is “solid,” negotiate, a “Plea Bargain” from OWI (or OUID) to the less-severe charge of Impaired Driving. The total final amount a Driver will pay to the Court ranges from between $600 to $1100, again, depending on where the case is being heard.

OUID, or Operating Under the Influence of Drugs, is just like OWI, except that instead of being under the influence of Alcohol, the Driver is under the influence of Drugs. The less-severe form of this charge is the very same OWVI, or Impaired Driving that is examined above.

OWPD stands for Operating While In the Presence of Drugs. Cases brought under this law are, fortunately, not so common. What it means is that if a Driver tests positive for Drugs in their system, then they are “OWPD.” There is no need to prove that they were under the influence of those drugs. For example, a person who tests positive for marijuana, and who used it 3 weeks before that test, although clearly no longer under its influence, can be charged with OWPD merely because of that positive test result.

Of course, the consequences for any of these Offenses ramps up dramatically if it is charged as a 2nd or 3rd Offense. Generally speaking, 3rd Offenses are Felonies.

OUIL, UBAL and UBAC are all terms that are no longer part of Michigan law (UBAC never was).

DUI is a general term used to describe Drunk Driving, even though there is no law entitled or addressing “DUI” in Michigan. The term is means “Driving under the Influence,” although as you can see even from the brief description of Michigan’s laws as outlined above, one might be tempted to ask “driving under the influence of what?” Michigan law makes very clear whether the Charge involves Alcohol, and if so, whether the Driver was “drunk” or merely “impaired,” or if the charge instead refers to being under the influence of, or being impaired by the use of Drugs.

If a person is subsequently convicted of a Drunk Driving offense (whether by a Plea, Plea-Bargain, or a Trial Verdict), the Michigan Secretary of State, and NOT the Court, imposes the License Penalties. These penalties are absolute; they cannot be modified in any way, under any circumstances. They are as follows:

1st Offense:

OWI (Operating While Intoxicated) – 6 month suspension of the Driver’s License, with no driving whatsoever for the first 30 days, and a Restricted License for the remaining 5 months. Restricted License allows driving to, from, and during the course of work, school, and to and from any necessary medical treatment, AA or support-group meetings, and to complete anything the Court ordered as a result of the conviction.

OWVI (Operating While Visibly Impaired) – 90 day Restricted License.

2nd Offense (within 7 years of the 1st):

OWI and OWVI – Mandatory 1 year minimum License Revocation. This means no License, and NO POSSIBILITY for any kind of License, for at least 1 full year.

3rd Offense (within 10 years of the 1st):

OWI and OWVI – Mandatory 5 year minimum License Revocation. This means no License, and NO POSSIBILITY for any kind of License, for at least 5 full years.

These License Penalties kick in after the Court handling a Driver’s case sends Notice to the Secretary of State of the Conviction. The Secretary of State then sends a Notice of the Licensing Penalty (called an Order of Action) to the Driver. Usually, the Driver will receive the Notice several days before the License Penalties start.