Know the Law – Drunk Driving Laws

DUI Breathalyzer

The holiday season is here, which means holiday celebrations where alcohol will likely be served. If you consume even just a few alcoholic beverages, the best decision is not to drive yourself home. Instead, have a friend or colleague take you home or call a taxi service.

In Michigan, it is illegal to drive with a blood-alcohol content of .08 percent or higher. If you are charged with driving under the influence (DUI), the first two offenses are considered misdemeanors, which will get you probation and rather strict monitoring by the court but little jail time unless you violate the terms of your probation.

However, a third drunk-driving offense is a different story. A third DUI is considered a felony. This means you will serve a minimum of one year in jail and will have your license suspended for five years.

Also, Michigan now has a “super drunk driving” law. This law imposes stiffer penalties if you’re caught driving with a blood-alcohol level of .17 percent or higher, no matter whether it’s a first or second offense. These harsher penalties include:

Up to 180 days in jail (rather than 93 days)
A fine of $200-$700 (rather than $100 – $500)
A one-year license suspension (rather than six months)
Extra hours of community service
From start to finish, a DUI conviction will ultimately cost you more than $10,000. This price tag includes court-imposed fines and fees, counseling programs, required drug/alcohol testing during probation, and the ignition interlock device that must be installed on your vehicle to drive once your driving privileges are restored.

In addition, if you are convicted of drunk driving, your auto insurance rates will certainly skyrocket.

What if you injure someone while drinking and driving? Then you have a committed a five-year felony. In addition to jail time, the fine for this offense ranges from $1,000-$5,000. Other penalties include vehicle forfeiture and mandatory vehicle immobilization.

If you kill a person while drinking and driving, it is a more serious felony. The penalty is a maximum of 15 years in jail, a $2,500-$10,000 fine, as well as vehicle forfeiture and mandatory vehicle immobilization.

Civil liability is also possible in cases of drunk driving causing death or injury. Michigan courts have upheld restitution to the victim and/or the victim’s family in both situations.


Michigan is Lenient on DUI?

Michigan amoung states most lenient on DUI.

Michigan is relatively easy on those who have been charged with DUI.

According to a report released by the personal finance website Wallethub on Aug. 10, Michigan is the 9th most lenient state when it comes to punishing those guilty of DUI.

Wallethub analysts compared drunk driving penalties in all 50 states and Washington D.C. to compile the list.

Michigan received a cumulative score of 30.91%, just behind Vermont and just ahead of Pennsylvania. A DUI isn’t considered a felony until the 3rd offense in Michigan, which has no minimum jail time on the 1st conviction and just 5 days on the 2nd.

Old DUIs only factor into new panalties for seven years, whereas life or 15 years is the standard in some states.

Michigan also has relatively lean fines for DUI and its average insurance rate increase after DUI is 9%, according to the report.

Arizona has the harshest DUI penalties, including long jail times while South Dakota is the most lenient on drunk drivers thanks to no mandatory jail time.

Here are some fast facts about DUI in America, according to Wallethub

  • The average fine for 1st DUI ($352) is higher than an Uber fare from Washington D.C. to Philadelphia
  • You could get all the way to New York with the average fine of a 2nd DUI ($762)
  • All but 6 states can automatically suspend the license of someone arrested for DUI, even before court involvement.
  • 88% of states require offenders to equip their vehicles with ignition interlock devices after DUI.
  • Repeat offenders spend an average of nearly 3 weeks longer in jail than first-time offenders.
  • Alchohol-abuse assessment and/or treatment is mandatory after a DUI conviction in 37 states, including Michigan.
  • DUI offenses stay on your criminal record for at least 6 years in 84% of states, but they remain for life in 5 states.
  • On average, red, conservative-leaning states have tougher DUI laws than blue states, which rank, on average, 5 spots lower.

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Get Help With Your DUI/OWI

If you have been arrested on a DUI charge in Oakland County, please reach out to The Law Offices of Derrick E. George, P.C. 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.