Criminal Defense Law Center
West Michigan

The Michigan legal alcohol limit is 0.08

Michigan Legal Alcohol Limit

Under Michigan law, there are two ways a person can get charged with drunk driving. One way is having a law enforcement officer view a person’s behavior, smell, appearance and conclude that a person is intoxicated. The other way is the one that happens a lot more. If the officer tests your blood alcohol content (BAC) and determines that you were over the Michigan legal alcohol limit, then you will be charged for drunk driving.

Legal Alcohol Limit In Michigan

Many drivers in Michigan do not know what the legal limit is.  If a driver is 21 years old or older, the legal limit is less than .08 BAC. If the driver is under the age of 21, a detectable amount of alcohol in will trigger criminal and administrative penalties. If a person is operating a commercial vehicle, the legal limit is only .04 BAC.

Anyone who is convicted for a first offense under the zero-tolerance law, the maximum punishment being faced is a fine of $250 dollars, 360 hours of community service, a restricted license for 30 days and four points added to the driving record. A second offense conviction under the zero-tolerance law within seven years adds a punishment of up to 93 days in jail.  A person under 21 who has a BAC of .08 or higher will be charged with Operating While Intoxicated as an adult.  If you are in trouble for drunk driving and have a CDL license you will lose your CDL for one year for a drunk driving conviction.

Law enforcement agencies can figure out your BAC on the side of the road by administering to you a preliminary breathalyzer test. This result cannot be used against you as evidence at your trial. It does however serve as probable cause to arrest you driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI). After you have been arrested, the authorities will require you to take a urine, breath or blood test. The results of this test will be used at trial as evidence against you. If you refuse to take a blood, breath or urine test, the prosecutor will get a search warrant that will compel you to take the test. You will also have you driving privileges automatically suspended.

What Factors Can Affect My BAC

Each person’s system metabolizes alcohol differently, but approximate predictions of a person’s BAC can still be done just based on weight. Remember, these numbers are estimates only! The only guarantee there is to avoiding Dui charges is by not drinking and driving. If you have drank alcohol, do not get behind an automobile! Based on weight, here are how many drinks a person can generally consume before they will reach a .08 BAC:

  1. 100 pounds – no more than two drinks
  2. 120 pounds – two drinks
  3. 140 pounds – a person may have three drinks
  4. 160 pounds – no more than three drinks
  5. 180 pounds – four alcoholic drinks
  6. 200 pounds – four drinks
  7. 220 pounds – up to five drinks
  8. 240 pounds – five drinks
  9. 260 pounds – six drinks
  10. 280 pounds – no more than six drinks.


The estimates above are based on assumptions that a drink is no more than 1.5 ounces of hard liquor. No more than 12 ounces of beer, no more than five ounces of wine per drink.  The main reason people get in trouble for drunk driving while following the estimates above is the fact that they have no idea how much alcohol was in the drinks they had.

Another reason people of the same weight have different BAC’s after they have drank the same amount of alcohol is because of:

  • Age – Younger people tended to metabolize alcohol better
  • Sex – Since biological women have a smaller amount of water in their bodies than men, alcohol will impact them more. Men and women have different liver sizes and alcohol eliminating enzymes that cause different BAC results.
  • Body type- Men and women that have more muscle have more water content, so people that have more muscle can have a lower BAC after they have drunk alcohol. Since women naturally have more body fat, which causes alcohol to stay longer in the blood stream than men.
  • Medications – There are a lot of drugs, even ones that you can buy over the counter, tend to cause negative reactions with alcohol and can cause you to become intoxicated after just a few drinks.
  • Empty stomach – BAC rates will rise a lot faster when someone drinks on an empty stomach.
  • Genetic predisposition – People can get intoxicated faster than others.

The typical elimination of a man who has consumed alcohol is .015 per hour. For a female, this rate is higher at .018. This is surprising because a lot of people believe that since women get drunk faster that they will eliminate alcohol from their system at a slower rate. Since women generally have more fat in their bodies, the alcohol has less places to go because alcohol will always go where water is.

Water in blood tests hold higher levels of alcohol and this increases the amount of alcohol that’s in the blood. One final reason why women eliminate alcohol from their system quicker is because their liver is a larger percentage of body their body mass than men.

Possible Changes To The Michigan BAC Limit

According to Wood TV 8 report Rick Albin, legislation has been proposed that would be a major charge to Michigan’s drunk driving law. Under this plan, it would make Michigan one of the nation’s stringent states by lowering the legal BAC from .08 to .05.  One state representative claimed that this law would save lives and prevent drunk driving. According to this representative,

 “These proposals will help change behaviors and they are backed by the science and backed by the leading experts combating drunk driving across our country. As a public health professional, I am motivated by the facts. And we know that he current policies in place are not working, which is why we must do more.”

If this law passes it would join Utah as the only other state to .05 as the legal limit. This law was not passed in 2019 but it will likely be brought up again in 2020.

If you have any questions about Michigan’s BAC limit, call Shawn today at 616-438-6719! The call is free, and all your questions and concerns will be answered with crystal clear answers.

Get A Free Case Strategy Session