OWI (Operating While Intoxicated) Law in Michigan

The state of Michigan is taking a tough stance against those caught operating a vehicle while intoxicated.  Police in Michigan on a regular basis crack down on those who have had too much to drink and get behind the wheel.   There are many issues a person arrested for OWI needs to be aware of in Michigan.  This article will address those issues.

Issue One:  Michigan’s implied consent proceeding:  Your Michigan license, or your right to drive in Michigan if you don’t have a Michigan driver’s license, will probably be suspended for one to two years if you refuse to submit to a breath test.  If you are pulled over for OWI, you need to carefully read over the paperwork you were given.   If you are going to fight the implied consent suspension of your driver’s license, you must file an appeal.  Your appeal is a request to have a hearing within 14 days of your arrest.  If your appeal fails or you do not appeal you will have six points added to your driver’s license and hammered with a one to two year license suspension.

Issue Two:  What will be your punishment for getting convicted of an OWI in Michigan?  Operating while intoxicated means that a person is either under the influence of liquor, under the influence of a  controlled substance, a combination of liquor and a controlled substance or the person has a bodily alcohol content of .08 or above.  A person who has a BAC of .08 or higher can be referred to as “per se OWI.”  A conviction of OWI results in six points to your driving record.  A person convicted of OWI is facing up to 93 days in jail.  The person busted for OWI will face fines of up to $500.00 and their driver’s license will be suspended for up to six months.  They may get a restricted license after a hard 30 day suspension of their driving license.

Issue Three: What defenses do you have in your OWI case?  A good OWI attorney knows what kind of defenses you may have in your particular case.  For example, did the police officer have a valid reason to pull you over?  Where the field sobriety tests done correctly?  Was the administration of the portable breathalyzer test done correctly?  Was the portable breathalyzer test equipment working properly?  Were the procedures at the blood test laboratory followed correctly? Was the accused actually the driver?  Does the driver have the defense of necessity or duress?

What Should I do if I get pulled over for an OWI?

First, treat the office with respect and dignity.  Treat the officer in a safe way so that they aren’t worried about their safety or that you are going to interfere with their investigation.  You want to limit the amount of information that they are gathering. You don’t need to tell them where you came from or how much you have had to drink.   You do not have to perform the field sobriety exercises or the road side breath test.  Remember, if you are taken back to a police station and refuse to take the breath test the consequences for that are entirely different.  You can only be given a fine for not taking the road side  breath test.  However, refuse to take the breath test at the station your license can be suspended for one to two years.  The suspension is a hard suspension unless you appeal.

The best way to avoid an OWI offense is not to drink while under the influence of alcohol. Always have a designated driver with you if you are going to drink and need a ride home.

Our Criminal Defense Lawyers in West Michigan Proudly Serve: Kent County, Ottawa County, Allegan County, Ionia County, Barry County, Berrien County, Mason County, Manistee County, Mecosta County, Oceana County, Muskegon County, Montcalm County, Newaygo County, Kalamazoo County, Lake County, Van Buren County, and the City of Grand Rapids, Michigan.

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