Given the proliferation of breweries in the Lower Peninsula, you might think that Michigan law enforcement would be somewhat more tolerant of those who get behind the wheel of a car after a few drinks. That, however, is simply not the case. Michigan calls offenses involving driving after drinking or consuming mind-altering drugs Operating While Impaired (OWI) offenses.
There are several variations, including a "super drunk" law that adds extra penalties for those who are substantially above the acceptable blood alcohol content (BAC) for operating a vehicle.
Mistakes happen, both by those who are driving a vehicle and by law enforcement that are conducting sobriety tests in the field. If you are facing an OWI offense, you should consult with an experienced OWI criminal defense attorney who understands Michigan law. Your attorney can help establish if your rights have been violated or if law enforcement made a mistake. An attorney can also help you mount a rigorous defense to pending OWI charges.
Standard OWI charges bring real consequences
You may face an OWI charge if drugs or alcohol in your body have seriously impaired your ability to drive, your BAC is tested at 0.08 percent or higher, or if your driving was visibly impaired. Even if you don't test above the Michigan state limit for BAC, if you were driving erratically, swerving or otherwise posing a danger to yourself and others on the road, police could charge you with an OWI offense. You can also be charged with an OWI offense if you have any amount of a Schedule I drug in your system while driving.
OWI charges carry serious penalties. First time offenders face up to 93 days in jail, up to 360 hours of community service, a 30 day suspension of your license, a fine of between $100 and $500 and a driver's responsibility fee. Second time offenders face fines of between $500 and $1,000, between five days and one year in jail, 30 to 90 days of community service and loss of their license for one year. If their license was previously suspended in the last seven years, that suspension could last five years instead. Third offenses carry between one and five years in jail, as well as fines, fees and loss of license.
An attorney can help minimize the fallout of an OWI
When you are facing OWI charges, you need to take them as seriously as the State of Michigan will. Don't gamble your future away by pleading guilty or working with an over-worked public defender. As soon as you know you will face charges, you need to speak with an experienced OWI defense attorney. An attorney can help explore your options, including substance abuse therapy in lieu of jail or raising a vigorous defense.