What Should I Expect with a Michigan First Offense OWI Charge?

What Should I Expect with a Michigan First Offense OWI Charge?

  • March 2nd, 2017
  • Patrick Barone
  • OWIDUI Penalties

A first offense OWI in Michigan is a crime categorized as a misdemeanor in Michigan.  Drunk driving cases are taken very seriously by the courts, and a conviction of a first offense OWI can carry with it serious consequences.

A conviction for first offense OWI will carry with it fines, costs and driver license sanctions.  There will also be a term of probation, sometimes as long as 18 months.  Most first offenders do not go to jail, though jail time is always a possibility.  There are a few notable exceptions, and some judges in Michigan do put first time offenders in jail.

Also, there is always the possibility of a variety of collateral consequences.  The most common of these include loss of a CPL, increased insurance costs, difficulty or impossibility of renting a car, and other travel related difficulties.

Specifically, the statute in Michigan addressing drunk driving, which is found at MCLA 257.625, et. seq., indicates as follows for a first offense OWI:

(9) If a person is convicted of (OWI first offense):

(a) The person is guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by 1 or more of the following:

(i) Community service for not more than 360 hours.

(ii) Imprisonment for not more than 93 days.

(iii) A fine of not less than $100.00 or more than $500.00.

Additionally, the secretary of state will suspend the driver’s operator’s license for 180 days.  There shall be no driving at all for the first 30 days.  The offender may drive, on a restricted basis only, for the remaining 150 days.

Everything explained above only applies to a “regular” first offense OWI only.  If a person has a prior offense within the prior 7 years, or has two prior offenses within the past 10 years, then the penalties are far more draconian.

Also, if the driver’s BAC, meaning their breath, blood, or urine test shows a bodily alcohol content of 0.17 or greater, then they can be charged with a “super drunk driving.”  Again, much more serious sanctions apply for super drunk driving cases.  There are also differences for those drivers who are under 21 years of age, and for commercial drivers.

All of this assumes that you are convicted as charged.  A skillful drunk driving defense lawyer can often persuade the prosecuting attorney to reduce the charge, thereby reducing the penalties.  You may also have defenses to your case that could result in your first offense OWI charges be dismissed altogether, or even further reduced.  Finally, you may have an excellent case for trial.

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  • About the Author Attorney Patrick Barone is well-known and well respected throughout the legal community. As a professor, guest speaker and author he shares his knowledge of drunk-driving defense with lawyers and judges to help them better understand this complex area of law. Mr Barone is the co-author of two highly regarded books including Defending Drinking Drivers and Michigan DUI Law – a Citizen’s Guide. Also, Super Lawyers Magazine recently recognized his unique approach to law in their article “Walking in Their Shoes.”
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