Blog

Learn some important facts about Michigan OWI law.

In Michigan, you can get an OWI (operating while intoxicated), sometimes called a DUI (driving under the influence), if you drive with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of.08% or higher or any amount of a “controlled substance” in your system, regardless of whether your driving ability was actually impaired. While Michigan law says that marijuana is a controlled substance, the “zero tolerance” rule doesn’t apply for drivers that are lawfully allowed to use marijuana under the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act.

However, you can also get an OWI in Michigan for operating a vehicle while “under the influence” of alcohol, drugs (including marijuana), or a combination of the two. You’re under the influence if your ability to drive is “substantially and materially affected” by the alcohol or drugs you’ve ingested.
Even if you aren’t quite under the influence, you can still be convicted of a less serious offense called an OWVI (operating while visibly impaired) if—as the result of the substances you’ve ingested—it would be apparent to an observer that you have “less ability than would an ordinary, careful and prudent driver.”

And the law in Michigan says that if you’re driving a vehicle, you’ve given consent to submit to a chemical test for the purpose of determining the amount of alcohol or drugs in your blood. Here are some details on the consequences of refusing to take a chemical test in Michigan and other details about Michigan OWI/DUI law.

In Michigan, what are the consequences of refusing to take a chemical test (usually a breathalyzer or blood test) when suspected of OWI?

Here are the consequences for not taking a breathalyzer or blood test in Michigan, broken out by whether this is your first, second, or third offense:
1st offense
2nd offense
3rd offense
1-year license suspension
2-year license suspension

In Michigan, when do police have to measure your BAC?

Michigan law doesn’t required police to measure your BAC within any particular time of when you were driving. But to prove an OWI based on a BAC of .08% or more, the prosecutor must show your BAC was over the legal limit at the time you were driving. Depending on the circumstances, the prosecution might have more difficulty proving its case where there’s a long delay between when you were driving and when police measured your BAC.
What is the maximum BAC for drivers under 21 in Michigan?

In Michigan, it’s illegal for a driver that’s under the age of 21 to operate a vehicle with “any bodily alcohol content.” Generally, this law prohibits underage drivers from driving with any amount of alcohol in their blood. However, there’s one exception to the rule: Underage drivers can drive with a small amount of alcohol in their bodies—less than .02%—if they consumed the alcohol as part of a “generally recognized religious service or ceremony.”

What are the minimum jail times for an OWI in Michigan?

Here are the minimum jail times for an OWI in Michigan, broken out by whether this is your first, second, or third offense:
1st offense
2nd offense
3rd offense
No minimum jail term required
5 days jail or 30 days community service