Michigan has a “zero-tolerance” approach to drugged driving. Although many motorists believe police have to prove drugs affected their driving to charge them with OWPD this is not the case. OWPD is Operating With the Presence of Drugs. It’s a serious charge that can land you in jail and result in the suspension of your driver’s license.
OWPD charges in Michigan are controversial. You can be jailed for over three months for your first drugged driving conviction if minimal traces of a substance are found in your blood. There is no drugged driving limit as with drunk driving. It’s important to hire a Michigan OWPD attorney to fight these serious charges on your behalf. Please contact George Law for a consultation as soon as possible.
What are Michigan’s OWPD Laws?
Michigan has a zero tolerance drugged driving law for controlled substances including marijuana, opiates, and cocaine. The law states you cannot drive a vehicle on the highway or another location open to the general public or generally accessible to motor vehicles, including parking lots if your body contains any amount of a controlled substance listed in schedule 1 under section 7212 of the public health code.
No specific amount of a drug is required to be charged with OWPD in Michigan and the police do not have to prove the drug affected your driving. All the prosecutor needs is the result of a valid lab test that shows traces of a drug in your blood.
OWPD is an incredibly harsh law. A suspected drugged driver who submits to a urine test and, for example, tests positive for marijuana in Royal Oak, can be charged and convicted of the offense because of traces of the substance in his or her body. You can be charged with OWPD many days or even weeks after you smoked marijuana. According to Medical News Today, Tetrahydrocannabinol, the chemical in marijuana that gives users a “high,” can remain in the body for several days or even weeks.
Although you may test positive for drugs a long time after taking them, old drugs in your system aren’t likely to affect your driving. The provisions of the Operating With the Presence of Drugs law are, therefore, inconsistent with Michigan’s Operating While Intoxicated (OWI) provisions of having a blood alcohol content of 0.08 percent or the requirement or having less ability than the ordinary careful driver to be charged with Operating While Visibly Impaired (OWVI).
What Are the Penalties if You Are Charged with OWPD in Michigan?
The first Operating With the Presence of Drugs crime is a misdemeanor punishable by one or more of the following:
- Up to 93 days in jail;
- A fine of $100 to $500;
- A term of community service of up to 360 hours;
- Possible vehicle immobilization;
- Possible ignition interlock.
A second offense of OWPD carries;
- Five days to one year of consecutive jail time, or 30 to 90 days of community service, or both.
- Harsher license restrictions and denial for people with multiple drunk or drugged driving convictions.
- If you have one or more previous drug convictions within seven years, your driver’s license will be suspended for one year. No restricted license is allowed for the first 60 days of the suspension.
- A reinstatement fee of $125 if your driver’s license was suspended, revoked, or restricted.
The court must order the defendant to complete at least one rehabilitation program, including alcohol treatment or a self-help program after a second OWPD or DUI.
A third conviction for drunk or drugged driving in a driver’s lifetime is a felony offense that carries an even higher sentence.
Will You Receive an OWPD in Michigan for the Use of Medical Marijuana?
In 2008, Michigan became the 13th state to legalize the use of medical marijuana. People with conditions including cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, HIV, and cerebral palsy can qualify for the program.
In 2013, Michigan’s zero tolerance policy toward drugged driving and its medical marijuana program collided in the Michigan Supreme Court case of People v. Koon.
Rodney Lee Koon was charged in the 86th District Court with operating a motor vehicle with any amount of a schedule 1 controlled substance in his body. When Koon was stopped for speeding, he told police he had a medical marijuana registry card. He admitted to smoking marijuana five to six hours before the stop. A blood test showed the presence of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the physiologically active part of marijuana in Koon’s blood when he was driving.
The judges held unanimously that a qualifying medical patient under the Michigan Medical Marijuana Act, cannot be arrested, prosecuted or penalized for the medical use of marijuana as long as the patient possesses an “amount of usable marijuana that does not exceed 2.5 ounces.”
The MMMA shields registered patients from prosecution but the law provides a list of activities that are not protected by the law, including driving while under the influence. In other words, registered medical marijuana may still be charged if the drug impairs their driving abilities. However, the presence of the drug in their blood is not enough for a prosecution.
Hire an Attorney to Fight OWPD Charges in Michigan
Michigan’s no nonsense approach to drugged driving is very tough on defendants. It’s alarming that police don’t have to prove drugs affected your driving to charge you with OWPD in Michigan. Many people fail to realize they can face a serious charge and jail time over a drug they took weeks ago that has no impact on their driving ability. At George Law, we will look for flaws in the prosecution case such as whether you were properly stopped by the police. We will present all of the evidence to paint a sympathetic case in court. Our attorney has a record of achieving favorable results in drunk and drugged driving cases in Michigan. Please call us for a consultation at 248-470-4300.