Michigan has strict DUI laws. Unsurprisingly, the courts give elevated sentences to drivers who kill people or cause serious injuries. Michigan OWI causing death carries a minimum sentence of 15 years behind bars.
These are difficult cases but we help accused people by exploring defenses. Please contact our Detroit-area DUI defense team as soon as possible for help.
A recent sentencing hearing illustrates the hard-line the courts take with drunk drivers who kill and maim. In January 2020, a judge told a woman from Royal Oak she faced up to four decades in prison for causing a fatal wreck in Eastpointe. Jenell Bailey’s Dodge Caravan slammed into a car driven by Pavios Dion at high speed in 2016. Bailey, 51, drove at more than twice the limit for legal intoxication.
Bailey was drunk behind the wheel on June 8, 2016, when she hit Dion at the intersection of Gratiot Avenue and Chesterfield Avenue in Eastpointe, Local 4 reported.
Police charged Bailey with second-degree murder, DUI, and operating with a suspended license. Bailey was sentenced to 17-40 years in prison, media reports stated. She had four prior drunk driving convictions.
Judge Toia said Bailey’s sentence would not bring back the life her actions claimed. He said:
“No matter what amount of time I give you … it’s never going to restore a life back. It’s never going to bring the life back.”
What Are the Consequences of DUI Causing Death or Injury in Michigan?
Most drunk driving offenses are misdemeanors in Michigan. People who cause deaths or injuries behind the wheel are likely to be charged with felonies. Michigan OWI (Operating While Intoxicated) causing death is a serious offense. Prosecutors may also charge you with manslaughter or even second-degree murder.
Michigan courts aim to send a tough message to drunk drivers who kill and injure people. Typically, judges and juries sentence them to long periods behind bars.
What is the Sentence for Michigan OWI Causing Death?
People charged with Michigan OWI causing death face a host of sanctions that change their lives including:
- A prison sentence of up to 15 years;
- A fine ranging from $2,500 to $10,000;
- A prison sentence of up to 20 years for the death of an emergency responder such as a police officer or a paramedic;
- Revocation of your driver’s license for at least a year. The authorities can take away your driver’s license for at least five years if you had a previous renovation in the last seven years;
- Confiscation of your vehicle’s license plates;
- Immobilization of your car for 180 days;
- Payment of the Michigan Driver Responsibility Fee for two consecutive years;
- Six points added to your Michigan state driving record.
Drunk drivers kill a disproportionate number of other drivers and passengers in Michigan. The Michigan State Police revealed alcohol and drugs caused 9,786 traffic crashes in the state in 2018. Drunk drivers caused 315 deaths and 5,392 injuries that year. Intoxicated driving deaths rose 11 percent year-on-year.
Intoxicated drivers also cause many serious injuries. The felony of OWI causing serious injury carries a fine ranging from $1,000 to $5,000 and a five-year minimum prison term. The courts impose this sentence on drivers who cause serious impairment or loss of bodily function in their victims.
What is the Sentence for Michigan OWI Causing Death When You are Super Drunk?
Michigan DUI law makes a distinction between drivers whose blood/alcohol content is above the 0.08 percent drunk driving threshold and those who are “super drunk.” If your blood/alcohol content is above 0.17 percent, you face higher penalties.
Super drunk drivers who cause a death or a serious injury face an additional five years of imprisonment over the maximum time they can be locked up.
What Must the Prosecution Show for Michigan OWI Causing Death?
The prosecution must prove the defendant’s driving caused the victim’s death. The drunk driver must have directly caused the fatality. These cases are not always straightforward. It’s not enough to show a drunk driver was involved in a pile-up on the interstate another motorist died. Prosecutors must show the intoxicated driver was to blame. In other words, a death would not have occurred without the actions of the impaired driver. Police often try to blame a drunk driver for a fatality or an injury just because he or she is drunk. It’s left to a criminal defense lawyer to disprove the police case.
Hire an Experienced Attorney for Michigan OWI Causing Death
Michigan OWI causing death is a serious felony. If the courts charged you or a family member with this offense, you should act fast. An experienced Michigan drunk driving defense attorney will look at how you can beat the charge. We can work on reducing a serious charge or making your case for the most lenient sentence possible. Talk to Royal Oak-based attorney Derrick George to safeguard your rights. Call us at 248-470-4300.