Important Facts – Michigan OWI Law

In the state of Michigan, you can get an OWI (Operating While Intoxicated) – sometimes called a DUI (Driving Under the Influence) – if you drive with a BAC (Blood Alcohol Concentration) of 0.08% or higher or with any amount of a “controlled substance” in your system, regardless of whether your driving ability was actually impaired.

In addition, you can 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.”

WHAT IF I’m UNDER THE AGE OF 21?

The Zero Tolerance Law has even tougher guidelines, which makes it illegal for individuals who are younger than 21 to consume alcohol and operate a vehicle. Anyone under age 21 who is determined to have a BAC of more than 0.02% but less than 0.08% may be arrested for OWI under the Zero Tolerance Law. Basically, this applies to any person under the age of 21 determined to have “any bodily alcohol content” with the exception of an occasion on which it can be proven the presence of alcohol resulted from a generally recognized religious service. (While Michigan law says that marijuana is a controlled substance, the Zero Tolerance Law doesn’t apply for drivers that are lawfully allowed to use marijuana under the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act.)

TYPES OF CHARGES

  • Operating While Visibly Impaired (OWVI) means that because of alcohol or other drugs, your ability to operate a motor vehicle was visibly impaired.
  • Operating While Intoxicated (OWI) includes 3 types of violations:
    • Alcohol or drugs in your body substantially affected your ability to operate a motor vehicle safely.
    • A bodily alcohol content (BAC) at or above 0.08. This level can be determined through a chemical test.
    • High BAC means the alcohol level in your body was at or above 0.17. This level can be determined through a chemical test.
  • Operating With Any Presence of a Schedule 1 Drug or Cocaine (OWPD) means having even a small trace of these drugs in your body, even if you do not appear to be intoxicated or impaired. This can be determined through a chemical test.
  • Under Age 21 Operating With Any Bodily Alcohol Content (Zero Tolerance) means having a BAC of 0.02 to 0.07, or any presence of alcohol in your body other than alcohol that is consumed at a generally recognized religious ceremony.

PENALTIES FOR DUI/OWI IN MICHIGAN:

1st Offense

2nd Offense

3rd Offense

Jail Time Up to 93 days 5 days to 1 year or 30 to 90 days community service 30 days to 5 years
Fines & Penalties From $100 to
$500
From $200 to $1,000 From $200 to $1,000
License Suspension Up to 6 months Min. 1 year Min. 1 year
IID** Required? Possible Yes Yes

Lookback Period: 7 years (Period of time that prior OWIs are relevant for sentencing

**Interlock Ignition Device

PENALTY DETAILS:

1st Offense

  • $100 to $500 fine & one or more of the following:
    • Up to 93 days in jail
    • Up to 360 hours of community service
  • Driver’s license suspension for 30 days, followed by license restrictions for 150 days
  • Possible vehicle immobilization
  • Possible ignition interlock device
  • Six points added to driving record
  • Driver Responsibility Fee:
    • $1,000 for OWI
    • $500 for OWPD

Operating While Intoxicated (OWI) or Operating with Any Presence of a Schedule 1 Drug or Cocaine (OWPD)

  • High Blood Alcohol Content (BAC of .17 or higher). This is one of the operating while intoxicated crimes, but it has harsher consequences.
    • One or more of the following:
      • Up to 180 days in jail
      • $200 to $700 fine
      • Up to 360 hours of community service
    • Driver’s license suspension for 1 year. Eligible for restrictions after 45 days of suspension if an ignition interlock device is installed on all vehicles the offender owns or intends to operate
    • Possible metal license plate confiscation if the offender operates a vehicle without a properly installed ignition interlock device
    • Mandatory vehicle immobilization if the offense is subsequently convicted for operating a vehicle without a properly installed ignition interlock device
    • 6 points added to the offender’s driving record
    • Driver Responsibility Fee of $1,000
  • Operating While Visibly Impaired
    • Up to a $300 fine, & one or more of the following:
      • Up to 93 days in jail.
      • Up to 360 hours of community service.
    • Driver’s license restrictions for 90 days (180 days if impaired by a controlled substance).
    • Possible vehicle immobilization.
    • 4 points added to the offender’s driving record.
    • Driver Responsibility Fee of $500.

2nd Offense within 7 Years (any combination):

  • Operating While Intoxicated
    • $200 to $1000 fine, & one or more of the following:
      • 5 days to 1 year in jail.
      • 30 to 90 days of community service
    • Driver’s license revocation & denial for a minimum of 1 year (minimum of 5 years if there was a prior revocation within 7 years).
    • License plate confiscation.
    • Vehicle immobilization for 90 to 180 days, unless the vehicle is forfeited.
    • Possible vehicle forfeiture.
    • 6 points added to the offender’s driving record.
    • Driver Responsibility Fee of $1,000.
  • Operating While Visibly Impaired
    • $200 to $1,000 fine, & one or more of the following:
      • 5 days to 1 year in jail.
      • 30 to 90 days of community service.
    • Driver’s license revocation & denial for a minimum of 1 year (minimum of 5 years if there was a prior revocation within 7 years).
    • License plate confiscation.
    • Vehicle immobilization for 90 to 180 days unless the vehicle is forfeited.
    • Possible vehicle forfeiture.
    • 4 points added to the offender’s driving record.
    • Driver Responsibility Fee of $500.

3rd Offense Within Lifetime (any combination) is a Felony

  • Operating While Intoxicated
    • $500 to $5,000 fine, & either of the following:
      • 1 to 5 years imprisonment
      • Probation, with 30 days to 1 year in jail.
    • 60 to 180 days community service.
    • Driver’s license revocation & denial if there are 2 convictions within 7 years or 3 convictions within 10 years. The minimum period of revocation & denial is 1 year (minimum of 5 years if there was a prior revocation within 7 years).
    • License plate confiscation.
    • Vehicle immobilization for 1 to 3 years, unless the vehicle is forfeited.
    • Possible vehicle forfeiture.
    • Vehicle registration denial.
    • 6 points added to the offender’s driving record.
    • Driver Responsibility Fee of $1,000.
  • Operating While Visibly Impaired
    • $500 to $5,000 fine, & either of the following:
      • 1 to 5 years imprisonment
      • Probation, with 30 days to 1 year in jail.
    • 60 to 180 days community service.
    • Driver’s license revocation & denial if there are 2 convictions within 7 years or 3 convictions within 10 years. The minimum period of revocation & denial is 1 year (minimum of 5 years if there was a prior revocation within 7 years).
    • License plate confiscation.
    • Vehicle immobilization for 1 to 3 years, unless the vehicle is forfeited.
    • Possible vehicle forfeiture.
    • Vehicle registration denial.
    • 4 points added to the offender’s driving record.
    • Driver Responsibility Fee of $500.

*CLICK HERE for a full list of sanctions & consequences.

ANYTHING ELSE?

Unfortunately, yes: 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.

*CLICK HERE for more details on the consequences of refusing to take a chemical test in Michigan.

 

Get Help With Your OWI

If you have been arrested on a DUI charge in Oakland County, please reach out to us for help. Unlike other traffic related charges, which might be worth fighting without a lawyer, conviction for a DUI/OWI has serious consequences, especially if the incident involved injury to people or property, or if it’s your second or subsequent DUI. To avoid or reduce the consequences, your best bet is to find an attorney who is knowledgeable about Michigan’s laws and about how the system works in your District’s court.