According to Michigan OWI laws, you may face Operating While Intoxicated charges if you have a blood-alcohol concentration of .08 or higher or .02 or higher if you are less than 21 years of age. In addition to being charged for alcohol related intoxication, you can also be charged if you test positive for Schedule 1 drugs, such as cocaine, marijuana or GHB. A charge of Operating While Visibly Impaired does not require that an officer prove someone was intoxicated; the presence of drugs in an individual’s system is sufficient for conviction.
Felony OWI Charges
In most cases, the first two times someone is charged with an OWI, it is considered to be a misdemeanor. Even if you drive with a BAC of .17 or higher, you will still be charged with a misdemeanor, but you will face stiffer penalties if convicted. However, an OWI may be considered a felony if an individual was severely injured or died as a result of someone’s actions while driving while intoxicated. Additionally, if someone is charged with a OWI and they have two previous convictions within their lifetime, it will be considered a felony.
When individuals are convicted of an OWI for the first time, they may face a fine between $100 and $500, a six month license suspension, up to 93 days in jail and community service of no more than 360 hours. Jail time must be served consecutively, and people are eligible for a restricted license after 30 days. A second conviction carries penalties of five days to a year in jail, a minimum one year license suspension, a $200 to $1,000 fine, license plate confiscation and vehicle forfeiture or vehicle immobilization between 90 and 180 days.
The third conviction can carry either 30 days in jail with probation or one to five years in prison. Fines for a third conviction will range from $500 to $5,000, and people will face a license revocation of at least one year. Unless a vehicle has been forfeited, it will be immobilized for one to three years, and an individual’s license plate will be confiscated and their registration denied. Convictions for any of these charges may also carry a $1,000 driver responsibility fee for two years.
Felony OWI charges that involve severe injury to an individual carry penalties of five years in prison, fines between $1,000 and $5,000 or both. If someone faces charges related to causing a death while driving while intoxicated, they may be sentenced to 15 years in prison and/or face a $2,500 to $10,000 fine.
You will not be able to avoid an OWI charge by refusing to submit to a chemical test. Based on Michigan OWI laws, if you refuse a test, your license may be suspended for a year and six points will be added to your license. A second refusal within seven years carries a two year suspension, and hardship appeals are not available for these suspensions. You may still face penalties for an OWI in addition to those for refusing to submit to a chemical test.
What Is The Legal Alcohol Limit In Michigan?
Just as it is in every other state in the U.S., the legal alcohol limit in Michigan is .08 percent. This is the blood alcohol concentration (BAC) threshold that applies to passenger motorists age 21 and over. A level of .04 percent applies to drivers of commercial vehicles. Motorists under age 21 face an even lower BAC limit of .02 percent.
Potential penalties for operating while intoxicated (OWI) include:
- A fine of up to $500 for a BAC below .17 percent or $700 for a BAC of .17 percent or higher
- Up to three months in jail for a BAC below .17 percent or six months for a BAC of .17 or higher
- Up to 360 days of community service (for a BAC below or above .17 percent)
- A license suspension of up to 180 days for a BAC below .17 percent or one year for a BAC of .17 percent or higher
This is only a partial listing of potential penalties. Punishments for repeat offenses escalate and can have an even more dramatic impact on the person convicted.
Ignition Interlock Requirements In Michigan
Michigan allows a judge to determine whether a person must install an ignition interlock device (IID) following a first-time DUI – provided a BAC is between .08 and .17 percent. First offenses involving a BAC of .17 percent or higher – and all repeat offenses – require that an IID be installed.
Ignition interlock devices:
- Prevent a person from starting a vehicle if a BAC is .25 percent or greater
- Must be installed and serviced at the expense of the convicted individual
- Collect and store data that can lead to additional driver penalties
Ignition interlock devices may only be installed in vehicles by Michigan vendors approved by the state.