Attorney DeBruin represents clients from across lower Michigan.

Attorney DeBruin represents clients from across lower michigan.

Confident In The Fight,
Committed To Your Defense

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Experienced Defense Against Your OWI Charge

If you’ve been charged with an OWI, the road ahead will be stressful, expensive, and uncertain. Depending on your specific charges, the circumstances underlying your offense, and your criminal history, you could serve a lengthy prison sentence and pay thousands of dollars in fines and fees.

As your case progresses through the criminal justice system, you’ll be required to attend a variety of court and administrative proceedings, and each of them could have a severe impact on your future.

You don’t have to navigate your OWI charges on your own, and you shouldn’t. An experienced Lansing OWI lawyer will fight for your interests and protect your rights while guiding you step by step through the conclusion of your case.

To schedule a free and confidential consultation with attorney DeBruin, call 517-731-0353 today.

Tuebor Molon Labe MIAOWIA Dedicated to justice

The Michigan Association of OWI Attorneys: A non-profit organization dedicated to increase understanding of Michigan’s drunk and drugged driving laws to better advocate for the accused.

Why Our Firm Is The Right Choice For You

When you face an OWI charge in Michigan, you must consult with a lawyer who has experience successfully defending these types of charges in the court where your case is pending. We have a track record of strong advocacy for people charged with all kinds of OWI offenses — from first offenses to high BAC charges to felony OWI.

Our goal is to fight for the best possible outcome for your case, including working with prosecutors or the court, so that you can keep your driver’s license whenever possible. We understand that your driver’s license can be your lifeline, and we want to protect your rights, your future, and your ability to move on after your court case and put your OWI behind you.

Attorney DeBruin is committed to providing the best possible defense for your OWI case. She has completed the Advanced Roadside Impaired Driving Enforcement Course – the same course that law enforcement takes to detect, test, and prosecute impaired drivers.

What To Consider When Hiring A Lawyer

Whether it’s your first or subsequent offense, it’s essential to understand the following when you’re facing severe charges.

There Is Limited Time To Build Your Case

You can hire a lawyer at any point as your case progresses through the criminal justice process. However, the sooner you get professional legal advice and representation after being charged, the better chance of you receiving a favorable outcome.

Your attorney can get started on the following:

  • Interviewing you, your arresting officer, and any other witnesses while the incident is most clearly remembered
  • Collecting and preserving necessary evidence that could help your case (like surveillance footage or receipts from a bar or restaurant) that may not be available for long
  • Providing important advice and preventing you from making incriminating statements
  • Ensuring that your rights are upheld as police and prosecutors build their case.

Waiting to hire a lawyer deprives your defense of vital time and evidence that may only be available during the initial stages of your case.

Hire An Attorney Who Focuses On Criminal Defense

You might have a divorce lawyer in your family or a neighbor who specializes in real estate law. However, you must consult with a lawyer who has experience relevant to your charges. An OWI defense attorney handles cases like yours every day and knows the law in this area backward and forward.

Only a lawyer with relevant experience can give you the most thorough and practical advice and representation while you resolve your OWI charges.

Hire An Attorney With Regional Knowledge

If you were arrested and charged in Lansing or the surrounding region, your most effective advocate will regularly work in the area and have extensive regional knowledge. Tiffany DeBruin has worked for years in the Lansing area and has built successful and professional working relationships with the prosecutors and judges who argue and decide its cases.

A Lawyer Provides Options to Reduce Charges

You may feel hopeless about your charges and wonder how you can fight against the evidence against you. However, your lawyer may be able to challenge this evidence and make a valid argument for its dismissal. You may also have other options, such as a diversion program or volunteering to install an ignition interlock device to reduce your charges.

Questions to Ask Your OWI Attorney

The penalties for an OWI conviction can be severe. Be sure to ask your defense attorney the following questions so you know what to expect:

  • How much experience do you have in OWI cases?
  • What strategies did you use to defend prior cases like mine, and what was the outcome?
  • How would you defend my case?
  • What legal fees should I expect?

Potential OWI Penalties

Operating a vehicle while intoxicated or OWI is a severe offense in Michigan. Even a first offense can result in heavy penalties, and subsequent offenses only increase. However, some of these penalties may be changed by a judge because of a recent Michigan Supreme Court decision.

Judges now have the discretion to decide penalties for a criminal conviction, and those penalties may differ from those written into statutes. An experienced Michigan OWI defense lawyer can explain the possible outcomes of your specific charge.

First Offense

A first DUI offense is a misdemeanor in Michigan. The possible penalties include:

  • Up to 360 hours of unpaid community service
  • Up to 93 days in jail
  • A fine of $100 to $500
  • Driver responsibility fee of $1,000 per year for two years
  • Thirty-day driver’s license suspension and subsequent 150-day license restriction
  • Six points on your driving record
  • Possible immobilization of your vehicle
  • Possible requirement to install an ignition interlock device on your vehicle

Second Offense

The second offense is a misdemeanor when you have a prior OWI conviction on your record within the past seven years. The possible sentence includes:

  • A mandatory minimum of five days in jail, and a maximum of one year of incarceration, and at least 48 hours of your jail sentence must be served consecutively
  • Thirty to 90 days of unpaid community service
  • A fine of $200 to $1,000
  • Your driver’s license will be revoked or denied for at least one year or at least five years if you have a previous revocation within the past seven years
  • Confiscation of your license plate
  • Immobilization or forfeiture of your vehicle
  • Six points on your driving record
  • $1,000 driver responsibility fee per year for two years

Third DUI Offense

When you have two prior convictions for an OWI offense or certain other offenses, your third offense within your lifetime is charged as a felony. If you’re convicted, your penalties may include:

  • One to five years in prison or probation and 30 days to one year in jail
  • Sixty to 180 days of community service
  • A fine of $500 to $5,000
  • Revocation or denial of your driver’s license if you have two prior convictions within seven years or three prior convictions within ten years
  • Confiscation of your license plate
  • Immobilization or forfeiture of your vehicle
  • Denial of your vehicle registration
  • Six points on your driving record
  • $1,000 driver responsibility fee each year for two years

Penalties for OWVI

If you were charged with Operating While Visibly Impaired, you could face different penalties.

First Offense

  • Fine of up to $300
  • Up to 93 days in jail
  • Up to 360 hours of community service
  • $500 driver responsibility fee per year for two years
  • Four points on your driving record
  • Immobilization of your car

Second Offense

  • Five days to one year in jail
  • Unpaid community service for 30 to 90 days
  • A fine of $200 to $1,000
  • Revocation or denial of your driver’s license for at least one year, or five years if your license was previously revoked within the last seven years
  • Confiscation of your license plate
  • Immobilization or forfeiture of your vehicle
  • Four points on your driving record
  • $500 driver responsibility fee each year for two years

Third Offense

  • One to five years in prison or probation, but with a jail sentence of 30 days to one year
  • A fine of $500 to $5,000
  • Sixty to 180 days of unpaid community service
  • Revocation or denial of your driver’s license for a minimum of one year if you have two previous convictions within seven years or three convictions within ten years. If you have a prior revocation within the past seven years, your license will be revoked for at least five years for your third OWVI conviction.
  • Immobilization or forfeiture of your vehicle
  • Confiscation of your license plate
  • Denial of your vehicle registration
  • Four points on your driving record
  • $500 driver responsibility fee per year for two years

Penalties for BAC of .17 or Higher

Also known as a “Super Drunk” OWI in Michigan, a conviction for a high BAC OWI includes:

  • Up to 180 days in jail
  • Up to 360 hours of unpaid community service
  • A fine of $200 to $700
  • A one-year driver’s license suspension, with possible eligibility for a restricted license after 45 days with a requirement for an ignition interlock device on any vehicle you own or would drive — including any car owned by your employer that you would have to drive
  • Confiscation of your license plate if you drive without an ignition interlock device
  • Immobilization of your vehicle is mandatory if you are caught driving without an ignition interlock and convicted
  • Six points on your driving record
  • $1,000 driver responsibility fee each year for two years

Penalties For An OWI Causing Serious Injury

When you cause another person serious injury in connection with an OWI offense, the penalties you may face include:

  • Up to five years in prison
  • A $1,000 to $5,000 fine
  • Revocation or denial of your driver’s license for at least one year, or at least five years if you have a previous revocation on your record within the past seven years
  • Confiscation of your license plate
  • Immobilization or forfeiture of your vehicle
  • Six points on your driving record
  • $1,000 driver responsibility fee per year for two years

OWI Accident Causing Death

If convicted of an OWI in which you also are determined to have caused a death, the possible penalties you face include:

  • Up to 15 years in prison
  • Up to 20 years in prison for causing the death of an emergency responder
  • A $2,500 to $10,000 fine
  • Revocation or denial of your driver’s license for at least one year, or at least five years if your license has already been revoked within the past seven years
  • Immobilization or forfeiture of your vehicle
  • Six points on your driving record
  • $1,000 driver responsibility fee per year for two years

OWI Child Endangerment

Michigan has a unique set of penalties when you are convicted of driving under the influence while anyone under 16 years old also occupies the vehicle. A first offense is a misdemeanor, but subsequent offenses can be felonies. The penalties you face for an OWI with a minor in the car may include:

First Offense

  • A fine of $200 to $1,000
  • A minimum of five days, or up to one year in jail
  • At least 30 days of unpaid community service, or up to 90 days

Offense Within 7 Years or Third or Subsequent Lifetime Offense

  • Fine of $500 to $5,000
  • One to five years in prison, or probation along with a minimum of 30 days to one year in jail and 60 to 180 days of community service

Michigan OWI For Drivers Under 21

Michigan has a zero-tolerance policy for anyone under 21 who consumes alcohol and then drives a car.

First Offense

When you are convicted of OWI under age 21 as a first-time offender, the penalties you face include:

  • A fine of up to $250
  • A sentence of up to 360 hours of unpaid community service
  • 30-day restriction on your driver’s license
  • Four points on your driving record
  • $500 driver responsibility fee each year for two years

Second Offense Within 7 Years

On a second conviction for OWI under age 21 within seven years of your first offense, you may be sentenced to:

  • A fine of up to $500
  • Up to 60 days of unpaid community service
  • A jail sentence of up to 93 days
  • 90-day driver’s license suspension, or possible revocation or denial of your driver’s license for up to one year, or five years if your license previously was revoked in the last seven years
  • Four points on your driving record
  • $500 driver responsibility fee each year for two years

Collateral Consequences

In addition to fines and jail time, you may also experience one or more of the following consequences.

  • Trouble finding employment
  • License suspension
  • Increased insurance rates
  • You may be sued if your conviction is used to prove your negligence
  • Unable to attain child custody
  • Denial of professional licenses
  • Inability to obtain immigration status
  • You will have a permanent record

Defending Against OWI Charges

The prosecution has the burden of proving your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Your criminal defense attorney can challenge the evidence against you in many ways to build doubt in your case. While the charges against you may be severe, you always have options with an experienced defense attorney.

Reasonable Suspicion

OWI charges begin with a traffic stop. However, a police officer needs to have reasonable suspicion that you’re performing illegal activity. In other words, they cannot pull you over at will. If an officer observes you weaving in and out of lanes, they can pull you over.

An OWI lawyer can challenge the legality of your traffic stop and any evidence that was obtained.

Field Sobriety Tests

If an officer observes bloodshot eyes or smells alcohol, you may be required to perform a roadside field sobriety test. This test includes the following actions:

  • Walk and Turn – Walking heel-to-toe in a straight line so the officer can judge your balance
  • One Leg Stand – Standing on one leg and counting to judge whether you can multitask
  • Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus – An officer will hold up a finger or pen and ask you to follow it back and forth to track the motion of your eyes

An OWI attorney can question the accuracies of these tests in many ways. There could be many medical reasons why someone would fail any one of these tests. For example, being overweight or having an inner ear infection can affect anyone’s balance.

Other medical conditions or simply drinking too much coffee on a road trip can cause the jerking eye movements an officer looks for.

Breath-Alcohol Tests

An officer may require you to perform a breath test either roadside or at the police station. A roadside breath test is a preliminary test and isn’t used as evidence against your OWI in court. You may refuse this test; however, doing so is a civil infraction, and you may be fined $100 for your refusal. The breath test at the station is believed to be more accurate. However, an OWI attorney can question the accuracy of this test.

For example, your breath test may not reflect your actual BAC if you’ve recently burped or vomited. The test will be influenced by the alcohol in your mouth and stomach and not the alcohol that was absorbed into your blood and brain. Additionally, the test can simply be improperly administered.

If the officer wasn’t trained to correctly use the breathalyzer machine or the machine itself wasn’t calibrated properly, the results will be inaccurate.

Blood Tests

Sometimes you may be required to take a blood test to determine your blood alcohol content when suspected of OWI. Blood must be drawn by a doctor or another qualified person delegated by the doctor. You do not have to be arrested before being asked to submit to a blood test. The officer can use the blood test to establish probable cause to arrest you for OWI.

If you consent to a blood test, many factors can cause the test results to be inaccurate. For example, the results could be dismissed if the blood sample was mishandled or contaminated anyway. Your attorney can fight to have your test results dismissed from your case if there are any irregularities in your test results.

Urine Tests

An officer might want you to take a urine test to determine your blood alcohol content. As with other BAC tests, a urine test can produce false positives or be affected by several factors that reduce accuracy.

If you have been charged with OWI based on a urine test, a skilled criminal defense lawyer may be able to identify problems with the test and craft a defense to your charge.

Overview Of Michigan Impaired Driving Laws

You may be charged with OWI under Section 257.625 of the Michigan Vehicle Code if you:

  • Operate a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs
  • Operate a motor vehicle when you are visibly impaired by alcohol or drugs
  • Operate a motor vehicle when your blood alcohol content exceeds the legal limit

Many people might think it’s legal to drive after one or two beers because that won’t put their BAC over the legal limit. However, Michigan’s OWI statute makes it a crime to drive any time you’re under the influence of alcohol or show signs of impairment such as weaving in and out of lanes — even if your BAC is less than the legal limit.

If you consume any alcohol and then get behind the wheel, you may be subject to arrest for OWI regardless of your BAC.

Felony OWI Laws

In general, OWI is a misdemeanor in Michigan, and the penalties vary depending on your BAC and whether you have prior offenses. However, OWI may be charged as a felony when:

  • You cause the death of another person while driving under the influence
  • You seriously injure another person while driving under the influence
  • You have two prior convictions for OWI or certain other offenses within your lifetime
  • You committed OWI with a minor under age 16 in your vehicle, and have one prior conviction for OWI or certain other offenses in the last seven years, or two prior convictions within your lifetime

Legal Blood-Alcohol Limit

For adults aged 21 or older, you can be charged with OWI for being over the legal limit when your BAC is .08 or higher. If your BAC is .17 or higher, you face increased penalties if convicted of OWI.

However, your BAC doesn’t need to exceed .08 or .17 for you to be charged with OWI. You can be charged with a BAC under the limit if you show signs of impairment.
For drivers under age 21, the legal limit is a BAC of .02.

Implied Consent And OWI Testing

When you obtain a driver’s license in Michigan, you are legally deemed to consent to breath, blood, and urine tests to determine your BAC if you are suspected of OWI. If you refuse, your driver’s license is automatically suspended.

A first refusal results in a one-year suspension. A second refusal within seven years results in a two-year suspension — and the suspension takes place regardless of whether you’re ultimately convicted of OWI.

Your Rights After Refusing OWI Testing

You do have some rights concerning breath, blood, or urine testing. If you refuse to consent to the test, the officer must get a court order to seek a sample from you. Additionally, you have the right to demand that a person of your choosing administer an independent chemical test.

However, if you request your own test, you are responsible for getting your sample analyzed — and the results may be used against you in court.

What You Need to Know About Michigan OWI

Michigan’s OWI laws can be complicated, and each case is very dependent on the unique and individual circumstances surrounding the charge. You likely have a lot of questions about what might happen and how the process will work. We offer explanations concerning OWI topics on these pages.

  • First DUI – Your first DUI charge may be terrifying, but many possible defenses could help your case. An experienced Michigan DUI attorney can help.
  • Felony DUI Charges – A felony DUI conviction can result in devastating consequences. It doesn’t have to happen to you.
  • Second DUI – A second DUI charge can happen, but many possible defenses could help your case.
  • License Reinstatement – If your request for reinstatement gets denied, you’ll have to wait another year before applying again. You can also appeal, but you can only appeal based on a legal issue, not an issue of fact.
  • Marijuana DUI and Drugged Driving – If you or a loved one faces a marijuana drugged driving charge in Michigan, you shouldn’t take that lightly. Marijuana charges remain severe legal matters that require the help of an experienced Michigan drugged driving lawyer.
  • Out of State DUI – Besides license suspension and countless fines and fees, your out-of-state OWI can follow you home in a variety of ways.
  • Underage DUI – Underage offenders face the same stiff penalties.
  • Michigan OWI Court Process – The consequences of an OWI, even if it’s your first offense, can include significant fines, time in jail, community service, a license suspension, an ignition interlock device, and probation. Don’t go through this alone.

Get Started On Your Defense With A Free Initial Consultation

If you are facing OWI or other impaired driving charges in Michigan, contact DeBruin Law, PLLC, to learn about your defense options. To schedule a free initial consultation, call us at 517-731-0353 or send us an email.