Michigan labels the act of driving under the influence of
alcohol or drugs as Operating While Intoxicated or Operating While Visibly
Intoxicated. Both charges carry with them severe criminal and civil penalties.
To dissuade drivers from driving in this state, Michigan enforces a variety of
OWI and OWVI laws.
Avoiding either charge in Michigan requires that drivers in
the state recognize the legal blood alcohol limits. They also need to be aware
of how OWI and OWVI convictions are addressed by the state’s courts.
OWI and OWVI in Michigan
The definition of Operating While Intoxicated or Operating
While Visibly Intoxicated involves operating any motor vehicle while impaired
by alcohol, controlled substances or other drugs that cause intoxication. The
standard blood alcohol content in the state is 0.08 percent. Drivers at or
above this legal limit can be charged with an OWI or OWVI.
Drivers under the age of 21 must have a zero percentage of
alcohol or drugs in their systems to avoid this charge. Commercial drivers are
permitted to have BACs lower than 0.04 percent to avoid being charged with an
OWI or OWVI.
Drivers under the age of 21 are permitted to have up to a
0.02 percent BAC if the alcohol that was consumed was intended for religious
ceremonial purposes. Underage drivers likewise can transport closed containers
of liquor in their vehicles as long as they are accompanied by a licensed
driver who is at least 21 years of age.
OWI and OWVI Penalties in Michigan
The penalties for OWI and OWVI in Michigan include civil and
criminal punishments. A first-time conviction can lead to a jail term of up to
93 days and a fine of $100 to $500.
The defendant also will have to serve 360 hours or a minimum
of 45 days of community service. The court also has the discretion of ordering
that the defendant’s vehicle be immobilized for a determined time frame or be
outfitted at the offender’s expense with an ignition interlock device or IID.
A second conviction in Michigan results in five days to one
year in jail and a fine of $300 to $1000. The offender also must serve 30 to 90
days of community service and use an IID on his or her car. The court can also
order that the vehicle be immobilized.
A third conviction in Michigan is a felony and results in
one to five years in prison. The defendant likewise must pay a fine of $500 to
$5000 and serve a minimum of 30 days on probation.
He or she must perform a minimum of 60 days of community
service and use an IID on all of his or her vehicles. The judge can also order
that the vehicle be immobilized until the case is resolved.
Underage OWI and OWVI Penalties in Michigan
Michigan uses a different set of laws to address underage
OWI and OWVI. These laws pertain to drivers who are age 16 to 20.
A first underage conviction will result in the driver being
sentenced to 360 hours of community service and a fine of up to $250. The
driver’s license will also be suspended for 30 days, and he or she will have
four points added to his or her driving record.
A second underage conviction leads to a fine of $500 and a
sentence of up to 60 days of community service. The underage driver can also
serve up to 93 days in jail and have his or her license suspended for up to 90
days while getting four points on his or her driving record.
Implied Consent in Michigan
Michigan also has an implied consent law that says that all
motor vehicle operators, whether licensed in the state or not, give consent to
be tested for over-the-limit BACs if law enforcement has probable cause to
arrest them for OWI or OWVI. Refusing to submit to chemical testing or a
breathalyzer can result in civil and criminal penalties
A first refusal under the implied consent law can result in
the driver having his or her license suspended for up to one year. He or she
can also receive six points on his or her driving record. A second or
subsequent refusal can result in a loss of driving privileges for up to two
If a driver refuses a breathalyzer or chemical test or has a
BAC of 0.08 percent or higher, he or she can have his or her license seized by
law enforcement and have a paper license issued in its place. The driver can
request an administrative hearing to get the license reinstated. The burden of
proof to show why chemical testing was not needed at the time of the arrest
falls on the driver rather than the law enforcement officer.
Operating While Intoxicated and Operating While Visibly
Intoxicated are both serious charges in Michigan. Drivers found guilty of
either charge face significant civil and criminal punishments.
They can lose driving privileges as well as serve time in
jail and pay heavy monetary fines. These penalties are used for drivers of all
ages including those who hold commercial licenses.