Criminal Defense Law Center
West Michigan

DUI And Drunk Driving Defense Attorneys
Grand Rapids, Michigan

Being stopped and put under arrest for drunk driving is an embarrassing event. The penalties are extreme and are becoming tougher by the year.

Under Michigan law, a conviction for drunk driving will hammer an individual with negative consequences that can destroy your employment opportunities, ruin your reputation, your career and other areas of your life.

If you are arrested for DUI/DWI/OWI, you probably have many questions such as: am I going to jail? Will I lose my driver’s license? Can I take my case to trial and win?

If you or someone you know is arrested for these charges, the best decision you can make is finding and retaining the legal assistance of a talented criminal defense lawyer. The Criminal Defense Law Center of West Michigan is a powerful firm that will take the time to answer all of your questions and ease your concerns. We represent people charged with drunk driving in Grand Rapids, Michigan and all other cities and counties in the wolverine state. 

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DUI, DWI, OWI And Drunk Driving Penalties

Depending on the facts and circumstances of your case and your previous record, a drunk driving conviction can result in jail time, significant fines and costs, community service, work crew, loss of your driving privileges and probation.

A first offense OWI, DUI, drunk driving conviction could send you to jail for up to 93 days, cost you up to $1,000.00 in fines and court costs, cost you a $1,000.00 dollar driver responsibility fee for two years and your driver’s license being suspended.

A High BAC (Super Drunk Driving) conviction increases fines by $200.00, maximum possible jail time is increased to 180 days, 45 days of no driving and an additional 320 days restriction with an alcohol monitor on the vehicle.

First Offense DUI

  • $100 to $500 fine:
  • Up to 360 hours of community service.
  • Up to 93 days in jail.
  • Possible vehicle immobilization.
  • Driver license suspension for 30 days, followed by restrictions for 150 days.
  • Six points added to the driver record.
  • Possible ignition interlock.
  • $1,000 Driver Responsibility Fee for two consecutive years for OWI.
  • $500 Driver Responsibility Fee for two consecutive years for OWPD.

Not only is an arrest for a First Offense DUI embarrassing, but it can also cost your job, thousands of dollars in legal fees leaving you and even fear about what is what your future holds.

First Offense DUI Causing Death or Serious Injury

Criminal penalties are severe when you are arrested for a driving drunk and charged with DUI Causing Death or Serious Injury. These penalties may include substantial prison time, fines, and more. 

If convicted of drunk driving causing death (manslaughter), the punishment you may face includes up to 15 years in prison. However, if the accident resulted in an emergency or highway worker losing his or her life, you may be sentenced to up to 20 years in prison. In addition, you may face fines of between $2,500 and $10,000, vehicle immobilization and/or forfeiture, and restitution.

When serious bodily injury results in an accident directly caused by drunk driving, you may be sentenced to fines of between $1,000 and $5,000, vehicle forfeiture, and up to 5 years in prison. In either situation your driver’s license may be suspended or revoked.

Second Offense DUI

Second DUI, OWI, drunk driving offenses carry many of the same penalties as the first offense but some of them are more severe.

Penalties for a second DUI, OWI, drunk driving offense include:

  • Mandatory jail time of at least five days and not more than one year
  • License revocation of at least one year
  • License plate confiscation
    Vehicle immobilization or forfeiture of up to six months a fine of up to $1,000
  • Driver responsibility fees of $1,000 for two years up to 90 days of community service.

I always tell my clients to start getting treatment right away when they are in front of me for a 2nd offense OWI. You are setting yourself up for potential longer jail time if you do not do this. You also are setting yourself up for repeated failure if you refuse to deal with your problem.

Who do you think will have it easier in court for sentencing? The person who admits to the court they have a problem and that they have started treatment for their problem? Or the person who shows up to court and says maybe I have a problem or worse yet, I don’t have a problem? Common sense tells us the first person will have an easier time in court!

If your lawyer isn’t setting you up with rehab facilities, counseling and AA meetings, you need to consider retaining another attorney. I know many great AA groups in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Before you hire an attorney to represent you on any drunk driving related charge, you should ask the attorney what kind of help he can set you up with regarding treatment. I’m not just here to make money, though I enjoy making money, but I also really enjoy helping people better their lives. I have seen how counseling has done that for previous clients of mine!

Second Offense DUI Causing Serious Injury or Death

Penalties for Second Offense DUI Causing Serious Injury or Death (any prior within seven years)

  • OWI/OWVI/OWPD/DWLS causing death/serious injury (felony)
  • DUI Causing Death Death-Up to 15 years imprisonment OR $2,500 to $10,000 fine, or both
  • Injury-Up to five years imprisonment OR $1,000 to $5,000 fine, or both
  • Emergency Responder Death-Up to 20 years imprisonment OR $2,500 to $10,000 fine, or both
  • Driver license denial/revocation for a minimum of five years
  • License plate confiscation
  • Vehicle immobilization 90 to 180 days unless the vehicle is forfeited
  • Possible vehicle forfeiture
  • $1000 Driver Responsibility Fee for two consecutive years.

To be convicted of a Second Offense DUI Causing Serious Injury or Death or serious the prosecutor must prove the following: (1) that the defendant was operating a motor vehicle, (2) that the defendant was operating a vehicle on a highway or other place open to the public or generally accessible to motor vehicles, (3) that the defendant was operating the vehicle in the county where the charges are pending, (4) the Defendant was intoxicated, and (5) death or serious impairment of a victim. DUI Causing Death is a very serious felony! Call us today to talk about your case at 616-438-6719. Our DUI Causing Death defense lawyers won’t judge you. Our DUI Causing death defense lawyers will be with you every step of the way.

According to Section 257.625 of the Michigan Vehicle Code, you may be found guilty of a felony if your ability to drive was impaired due to consuming alcohol, and an individual suffers serious injury or impairment of a body function because of it. It is essential to obtain the legal guidance of a skilled DUI Causing Serious Injury Lawyer!  Having the support and representation of a skilled West Michigan DUI Causing Serious Injury Lawyer who is capable of building a strong and aggressive defense.

The criminal penalties individuals face if convicted of DUI causing serious bodily injury are severe in themselves; however your life will be affected in other ways, including possible loss of your freedom and damage to your career and reputation. Our DUI Causing Death or Serious Injury defense lawyers won’t judge you. Our DUI Causing Death Or Serious Injury defense lawyers will walk with you every step of the way. If you are facing criminal charges related to drunk driving or DUI in Grand Rapids, Michigan please call Shawn right away at 616-438-6719. 

Third Offense DUI

If you already have at least two DUIs on your record, a third offense DUI Drunk Driving charge is a felony punishable by harsh sanctions that include:

You will be facing up to five years in prison! You will be facing probation. You will be facing fines and costs that will be anywhere from $500 to $5,000.  You will face driver’s license revocation for at least one year. There could be vehicle forfeiture or immobilization for one to three years. You will face denial of vehicle registration. Confiscation of your license plate and community service of 60 to 180 days.

             Elements of the Charge of Operating While Intoxicated (DUI, OWI or OWVI):

In order to understand how to challenge your charge of operating while under the influence your attorney must first how a profound understand the elements a prosecutor must prove to get a drunk driving conviction in Michigan. These elements are:

  1. Operating a motor vehicle,
  2. On a highway or other place open to the general public, or generally accessible to motor vehicles,
  3. In the county of __________, city of _____________,
  4. While under the influence of alcohol and/or with an unlawful bodily alcohol level of .08 grams or more.

Many people feel these elements are easy to understand, the reality of the law is there is more to this law than meets the eye. Because this law is not clear, the next section below will  discuss the legal definitions of elements. 

Under Michigan law operating is defined as “being in actual physical control of a vehicle.” MCL 257.35A It does not matter if the person is licensed to operate the vehicle. The reason for this is because Michigan law defines an operator as “a person, other than a chauffeur, who operates a motor vehicle or automated motor vehicle upon a highway or street. MCL 257.36. MCL 257.625(1) adds that operating a vehicle in a “place open to the general public or generally accessible to motor vehicles, including an area designated for the parking of vehicles…” while under the influence of alcohol is prohibited under Michigan law.

The Michigan Supreme Court in gives us a clear understanding of what constitutes operating a vehicle in People v Wood, 450 Mich 399, 538 NW2d 351 (1995). A person is operating a vehicle when they are “using a motor vehicle as a motor vehicle has put the vehicle in motion, or in a position posing a significant risk of causing a collision, such a person continues to operate it until the vehicle is returned to a position posing no such risk.” Id. at 404-405.

                                            Legal Definition of a Motor Vehicle:

The definition for a motor vehicle is located at MCL 257.79.  Any device that can move a person along a roadway, unless it is exclusively moved by human power. This means you can be charged for drunk driving in a go-cart, dune buggies or a snowmobile.

     Legal Definition of Operating on a Highway or Other Place Open to the Public:

Parking lots, trailer park property, Meijer parking lots, property owned by a mall are areas that are “Open to the general public and accessible to motor vehicles.” If you are caught my law enforcement driving a vehicle you will be charged with drunk driving.   

                                      Legal Definition of Under the Influence.

The drunk driving statue in Michigan was changed so there are two ways a person can be charged for drunk driving, DUI, OWI.

(1) Driving while “under the influence” [that the consumption of alcohol has caused a material and substantial effect on the Defendant’s ability to operate the vehicle]; or

(2) The Defendant operated a vehicle with an unlawful BAC of .08 or .17 or higher.

The under the influence way focuses on how alcohol or a controlled substance impacts a driver. The second way only requires that a prosecuting attorney only needs to show there was an accurate measure of the defendant’s blood alcohol content.


Hidden Costs Of A DUI

Most people associate monetary fines and possible jail time as the costs of Michigan drunk driving conviction. This costs also apply to anyone picking up a DUI in Grand Rapids, MI or any other major city or town in the wolverine state. While these may be the most common costs related to a DUI, you should be aware of many other costs.

Here’s a look at five hidden costs of a DUI conviction:

1. Employment: A DUI may go on your criminal record. If your job requires that you maintain a clean driving record or have a valid driver’s license, you could potentially lose your job or miss out on a new job opportunity. Another factor is all the time away from work when you must attend your mandatory appearance court dates.

2. Mandatory Jail: Any conviction for DUI carries mandatory jail time. For a first offense, it is either 24 or 48 consecutive hours (or 15 or 30 days of electronic home monitoring). The jail time and house arrest goes up exponentially on second or subsequent convictions for driving under the influence.

3. Auto Insurance: Any increased auto insurance premiums due to drunk driving can have a much longer-lasting effect than a one-time monetary fine. A conviction for DUI carries the requirement that you carry high risk (SR-22) insurance.

4. Driving Record: A DUI conviction will go on your driving record and will trigger a driver’s license suspension or revocation.

How Much Does A DUI And Drunk Driving Lawyer Cost?

The DUI fees for hiring an attorney vary considerably. We have found that first offense OUIL/DUI?OWI range from $1,000.00 to as high as $20,000. If your case deals with OWI causing serious injury or death, fees can go as high as $80,000.

Why do DUI fees vary so much? The answer comes down to basically two things:

1. The amount of time a lawyer plans on spending to defend the case.
2. The rate the lawyer charges for an hourly rate.

Some lawyers who charge at the low-end of the DUI fees range will probably expect their client to plead guilty at the first opportunity in court. The reason for this is because some of the lawyers may not gather a police report, spend little time in preparation and not do any investigation on their own.  In some of these cases, the lawyers do not have a lot of experience in handling DUI cases and ergo their billing rates are lower. DUI fees for lawyers who are skilled in handling dui cases and who have advanced training and experience in these types of cases are going to bill much higher dui fees.

At The Criminal Defense Law Center of West Michigan, we use different billing rates.  The rates are based on the expertise of the lawyer and how many cases the lawyer you want to work with has handled over the years.

Lawyers in Michigan may not charge a contingency fee in criminal cases. So a lawyer may use a flat fee or bill by the hour if you are charged with DUI in Grand Rapids, Michigan. 

We use only flat fees. With over three decades of experience and practice,  we have found that our clients like dui fees on a flat fee basis. We charge a clients a flat fee because they know exactly how much the cost will be for us to handle the whole case. We promise there will be no surprise bills.

According to the rules of professional conduct in Michigan, the following factors may be considered when concluding the reasonableness of the fee:

  1. the time and labor required,
  2. How difficult the case will be and the skill required to provide legal service properly.
  3. will other employment be precluded because the lawyer took this case.
  4. the experience, reputation, and ability of the lawyer or lawyers performing the services.

Operating with a High Blood Alcohol Content

Also known as “super drunk,” the prosecutor needs to establish that your blood alcohol content (BAC) was 0.17, which is more than twice the “legal limit” of 0.08. This provision was added in 2010, and it comes with harsher punishment.

Here are the consequences for operating with a high BAC:

  • It’s a misdemeanor conviction on your record
  • Up to 180 days in jail
  • Up to 360 hours of community service
  • Fines up to $700
  • Several hundred dollars in court costs
  • A 45-day hard suspension, followed by a restricted license for 1 year, during which time you must have an ignition interlock device installed on your car
  • 6 points on your driver’s license.

As mentioned earlier, you may face penalties that are double those of a regular DUI conviction if charged with a Super Drunk offense. The penalties if convicted for having a BAC of .17% or above include:

  • Up to 180 days in jail
  • Fines and court costs of between $200 and $700
  • 45 days driver’s license suspension followed by 320 days of restricted driving
  • Required installation of ignition interlock device to remain throughout restricted driving period
  • Possible court order to attend alcohol treatment for a minimum of one year
  • Possible 360 hours of community service

DUI Defense Is NOT Straightforward

While DUI cases might seem straightforward, they are not for several reasons.

  1. Drunk driving cases can cause traffic accidents that destroy lives and property.
  2. There are several factors a DUI, OWI, Drunk Driving attorney will consider when evaluating your case.
    1. First, did the officer have reasonable suspicion to stop you? An example of reasonable suspicion would be the officer observing a vehicle speeding or running a stop sign.
    2. Did the officer have probable cause to start a DUI investigation? An officer would have probable cause to start a DUI investigation if he watched a vehicle go through a stop sign and the driver had bloodshot eyes and admitted to drinking vodka a few hours earlier.

If you were required to perform field sobriety tests, there are many questions which can be asked of the arresting officer, for example:

  1. Were they justified in the first place, properly explained and properly assessed?
  2. Was the officer correctly trained to administer and evaluate the test results for DUI, OWI, and Drunk Driving sobriety tests? Was there probable cause to arrest you for DUI, OWI, and Drunk Driving?
  3. If you took a blood-alcohol test at the police station, were the tests properly conducted on machines properly maintained by officers properly trained?
  4. Where the results accurate and reliable?
  5. Regardless of all the tests and reports, can the prosecutor prove that you violated each element of DUI law beyond a reasonable doubt?


                              Getting Your License Back After a Drunk Driving Conviction.

If your driver’s license has been suspended due to a drunk driving conviction, you will be required to fulfill the following:

  • Prove sobriety for 12 months
  • Have proof of membership in a recovery program 
  • Provide three people willing to vouch for your sobriety
  • Demonstrate that you have received alcohol abuse rehabilitation counseling


                                              Do You Really Need a Lawyer for a DUI?

Yes! If you want to get a lower charge or believe you are innocent you need an experienced criminal defense lawyer like Shawn Haff on your side. Shawn’s past clients feel he is the best DUI, Drunk Driving defense lawyer in Grand Rapids! As you have read about above, the penalties for any OWI conviction are harsh! 

                                                Do you get a public defender for DUI?

In many cases, a person will not be given a public defender. If you are facing a felony OWI charge, you will be given a court appointed attorney. Can you really afford to risk your liberty and future with a court appointed attorney who is swamped with work?  If you want a number one rated attorney on your side call Shawn now at 616-438-6719. Why risk your future with a Grand Rapids, MI or Kent County public defender?  


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  • 2675 44th Street SW
    Suite 303
    Wyoming, MI 49519
  • 616-438-6719
Criminal Defense Law Center West Michigan

Attorney Shawn Haff
We are available by phone 24/7