Attorney DeBruin represents clients from across lower Michigan.

Attorney DeBruin represents clients from across lower michigan.

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How might an underage OWI impact my future?

On Behalf of | Sep 8, 2023 | Alcohol Offenses

Michigan drivers who are accused of operating while intoxicated will face a series of legal consequences. In addition, this can be damaging to them personally. It is problematic for anyone, but it can be particularly worrisome for those who are under 21.

People must be at least 21 to legally consume alcohol. Of course, some still do so even whether are not of legal age. If they are alleged to have compounded that legal violation by getting behind the wheel of an automobile, it can spur a variety of ramifications based on the law.

Understand Zero Tolerance for underage OWI

Michigan has what is called a “Zero Tolerance” program for underage OWI. While people 21 and older who are tested for blood alcohol concentration will be charged if they register 0.08, those under 21 will be arrested if they register 0.02. This is a misdemeanor, but that does not diminish its severity.

For a first offense, there will be a driver’s license restriction for 30 days. To reinstate the driver’s license, it will cost $125. The driver’s record will have four points. Fines can cost up to $250. The driver might be obligated to perform community service.

If there is a second offense within seven years of the first, the driver’s license will be suspended for 90 days. The fee to reinstate the driver’s license will be the same. Fines are increased to up to $500. There is also a Driver Responsibility payment of $500 for up to two years.

When the driver has a BAC of 0.08, it is an adult-level charge and there can be an OWI case. They can never clear this conviction so it does not show up on their record. If there is a high BAC of .17 or higher, the penalties can be substantially worse.

Young people who are arrested for OWI need to be cognizant of the challenges they will face if they are convicted. Along with the driver’s license suspension, possible jail time and fines, there will be costlier insurance, a negative on their record, possible issues in school and obstacles to getting certain types of employment. This goes beyond a simple traffic stop and OWI arrest.

Questioning the evidence can be useful. The testing procedure could have been faulty. The law enforcement officer may have been overzealous in pursuing a driver who was not clearly breaking any laws. Or there could be a reasonable justification for the driver appearing to be under the influence such as taking prescription medications or being drowsy without having consumed alcohol. These are just some of the possible avenues of a comprehensive defense.

Those under 21 should fight OWI charges

With the number of college students in Michigan, there is a major chance that some might be confronted with drunk driving charges after attending an event, going to a social gathering or a holiday celebration. Before automatically thinking there will be a conviction, it is useful to know the potential strategies to combat the charges.

Young people will inevitably be contrite and could function under the impression that they did something wrong and should pay for it. That is a mistake. There are ways to formulate an effective defense. Exploring the options requires understanding the court system, how to assess evidence and to gauge the case objectively to retain driving privileges, avoid jail and keep an underage OWI from being a long-term issue.