If you're facing a drunk or drugged driving charge in Michigan, you know how frightening - and frustrating - the experience can be. It is crucial that you not only know your legal rights, but that you are able to assert them.
What is an OWI?
In Michigan, an OWI (operating a vehicle while intoxicated) is analogous to what is known as a DWI (driving while intoxicated) or DUI (driving under the influence) in other regions. In most cases, those who are charged with an OWI are found to have a blood alcohol level (BAC) of 0.08 percent or higher.
You may also be charged with an OWI if you have a lower BAC in some cases, such as:
- You are an underage driver
- You have a previous OWI conviction
In Michigan, registering a BAC of 1.7 or higher at the time of testing can mean much harsher punishments, under what are known as the "enhanced penalty" guidelines for excessively high blood alcohol levels.
What are common penalties for OWI?
Penalties for those convicted of an OWI depend, in part, on whether it was a first offense. In general, a guilty verdict might include license suspension or revocation, as well as mandatory assessment and education programs.
People with OWI charges in the Ann Arbor, Michigan, area also face the risk of having an ignition interlock system put on their car. This Breathalyzer-like device prevents the driver from starting his or her car if alcohol is detected. Even worse, an OWI charges can lead to forfeiture of the driver's vehicle.
What are my rights?
While some states may impose a legal penalty if you refuse a field sobriety test or a breath test, in Michigan you have the right to refuse these tests without facing a criminal punishment. That does not mean, however, that an officer can't arrest you and bring you to the station for mandatory testing if it's suspected that your BAC is higher than the legal limit.
It is important to contact a lawyer as soon as possible of you are charged with OWI. Often there are mitigating circumstances that can reduce your sentence. Call Dawid & Gatti, PLLC to learn more about your rights and your options.