In Michigan, the term DUI is no longer used. The charge is called OWI, which stands for operating while intoxicated. It is a crime for a driver in Michigan to have a bodily alcohol content, referred to as BAC, of 0.08 or greater if over the age of 21, or 0.02 or greater if under the age of 21. Also, in Michigan, we have what is called a high BAC law, with enhanced penalties for anyone driving with a BAC of 0.17 or higher. Drivers can be arrested at any BAC level if they exhibit signs of impairment while operating a motor vehicle.
Many people who come into my office tend to minimize the amount of alcohol that they had consumed prior to arrest for OWI, and do not believe that they were under the influence of alcohol. It takes time for some clients to accept the fact that they were drinking too much to be legally driving.
A person who is arrested under the suspicion of OWI is generally pulled over for the reason of erratic driving of some type. The officer will often indicate in his report that upon approaching the vehicle, he smelled the odor of intoxicants about the person. Often, the person has difficulty in producing his or her driver’s license, registration, and proof of insurance and has bloodshot eyes, slurred speech, or both. The person is then asked to step out of the car and the officer gives a series of field sobriety tests, such as reciting the alphabet, counting backward, walking a straight line heel to toe, and other such tests.
If the person does poorly on these tests, he or she is then asked to give a breath sample on what’s called a preliminary breath test device. This is not a test that is admissible in court. It is only to serve as a basis for probable cause for an arrest. If the person blows over a 0.08 probable cause is established for the arrest. The person is then arrested and taken to the police station, where they are offered a chemical test. If those results are above 0.08 they are then cited for the OWI. If the person refuses the Breathalyzer test, then the officer will contact the local magistrate and swear under oath to a search warrant for a blood draw. If the search warrant is granted by the magistrate, the person is then taken to a hospital for a blood draw. After it is drawn, the blood is sent to the Michigan State Police Lab, where it is tested. If the results are over a 0.08 then charges are typically brought for operating while intoxicated.
Upon arrest for OWI, the officer takes the actual physical license, but then they issue what is called a temporary license. That temporary license is in place until either that person pleads guilty or is found guilty at trial. The secretary of state then sends a letter to the defendant, indicating the lengths of the suspension and the restrictions imposed. Usually, the restrictions are being able to drive to and from work and probation oversight appointments.
If someone refuses a breath or blood test, the result is an automatic one year driver’s license suspension. If it is a second refusal within seven years, the license suspension is for two years.
If you are convicted of a third operating while intoxicated or operating while visibly impaired offense, it becomes a felony. Another aggravating factor would be if, as a result of the drinking and driving, someone sustains a serious injury. That usually results in up to five years in jail, up to a $5,000 fine, or both. If drinking and driving cause death to an individual, it is punishable by up to 15 years in prison, up to $10,000 fine, or both. There is also the high BAC charge, which results in higher fines, more jail time, mandatory completion of alcohol treatment programs, and an automatic ignition interlock device placed on the vehicle of the driver.
For more information on OWI Charges In Michigan, an initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (248) 869-0030 today.