In Michigan, a first DUI or OWI conviction could result in jail time and hundreds of dollars in court costs and other fees, in addition to a host of other negative consequences. A Lansing DUI defense lawyer will be your guide and advocate, ensuring that your charges are resolved as favorably as possible. Barring certain unique circumstances, most first time operating while intoxicated offenses are misdemeanor charges. Although first-time misdemeanor charges may not seem like a big deal, they are, and they should not be taken lightly.
OWI Laws in Michigan
According to Section 257.625 of Michigan’s Vehicle Code, it is illegal to “drive or be in actual physical control of any moving vehicle while intoxicated.” This could mean “under the influence of alcoholic liquor, a controlled substance, or other intoxicating substance or a combination of alcoholic liquor, a controlled substance, or other intoxicating substance.”
Those with no prior OWI convictions who are found guilty of violating this section could face:
- Up to 93 days in jail, a $500 fine, and 360 hours of community service for those with a blood alcohol content below .17 at the time of the offense.
- Up to 180 days in jail, a $700 fine, and 360 hours of community service for those with a blood alcohol content of .17 or higher at the time of the offense.
Other Possible Consequences
An operating while intoxicated violation will affect your life in many ways for years to come, even if it is your first offense. It’s important to talk to a lawyer so you can find out how to mitigate other possible negative consequences, including:
- Driver’s License Suspension and Restriction – If you are convicted of an OWI, your driving privileges will be suspended for at least 30 days, 45 days if your blood alcohol content was .17 or higher at the time of your offense. After the mandatory suspension period, you may qualify for a restricted license that allows you to get to work. If you refused a breathalyzer test at the time of your offense, then you are subject to an automatic one-year driver’s license suspension under Michigan’s implied consent law. An OWI conviction will also add six points to your driving record automatically, and if you have a lot of other points because of other driving violations, your license could be restricted or suspended for even longer.
- Ignition Interlock System – If your blood alcohol content was .17 or higher, in order to qualify for a restricted license after 45 days of suspension, you must have an ignition interlock system installed in your vehicle. You must pay to have it installed and for any maintenance costs during the time that it is in your car.
- Other Invasive and Costly Monitoring – If your blood alcohol content was .17 or higher, you will be required to complete an alcohol treatment program. Regardless of your blood alcohol content at the time of your offense, the terms of your sentence will likely require routine regular drug and alcohol testing. You must pay the cost for each test, and failing could put you at risk for jail time. You may also have to meet with a probation officer and comply with additional terms restricting your movements and activities.
- Higher Insurance Premiums – Once you are back behind the wheel, expect to pay exorbitant insurance premiums. On average, the cost of insurance goes up over 90% for the first year after an OWI.
- A Lifelong Criminal History – Right now, you cannot have a driving-related offense expunged from your Michigan criminal history. This means that your OWI conviction will be on your record permanently, even if it is your one and only criminal infraction. This lifelong blight on your record could make it harder for you to pass a background check, and may stand in your way of getting a job, renting an apartment, obtaining a professional license, or being accepted into a university.
How a Lansing DUI Defense Lawyer Can Help
You may feel hopeless after being charged with an OWI, but an experienced Lansing DUI defense attorney can help. Your lawyer will be your guide through the criminal justice process, attending your court appearances and explaining every step along the way. She will fight for the best possible resolution to your case, and may employ a number of potential strategies to have your charges dropped or reduced, or to lessen the negative consequences of a conviction.
Every case is different, but your lawyer will work diligently to advance your interests and protect your rights. Depending on the circumstances of your case, she may:
- Thoroughly interview you, the officer who arrested you, and any other witnesses, searching for inconsistencies in statements against you.
- Verify that the breathalyzer you tested on was in proper working order, was calibrated and inspected according to protocol, and that said calibration was properly documented
- Verify that the breathalyzer test or other test used to determine blood alcohol content was administered correctly, and that any lab involved in testing your sample strictly adhered to proper protocol.
- Verify that all evidence against you was properly preserved, stored, and handled, and that the chain of custody was met under Michigan evidence law.
- Interview you about any possible circumstances that could have led to a false reading on your breathalyzer test, such as using a mint or mouthwash, or vomiting shortly before the test.
- Work with prosecutors to negotiate a plea deal that reduces your charges.
These are just a few of the many ways that a Lansing DUI defense lawyer will help you to navigate your charges. To find out more about how a criminal defense attorney can help you and to begin having your case evaluated, contact DeBruin Law at (517) 324-4303.