Any person under the age of 21 in the State of Michigan is prohibited from operating a motor vehicle with any level of alcohol in their system. Although this is called a zero tolerance law, the legal limit for those underage is actually a 0.02 BAC or above, because it is within the range of false positives that a breathalyzer might report. Generally, if an underage driver’s blood alcohol level is 0.08 or above prosecutors will charge that person as an adult.
Generally, if an underage driver’s blood alcohol level is 0.08 or above, however, prosecutors will charge that person as an adult. With that said, the difficulty that an individual faces is that once somebody is charged with an adult OWI in the State of Michigan, the law states the prosecution should not reduce it to a minor with any BAC as a plea offer, although sometimes they are willing to negotiate. Therefore, if you have been charged with drinking and driving while underage, contact a Michigan underage OWI lawyer for guidance through the process and an advocate in court. An attorney experienced with OWI charges can assist in building a strong defense and ensuring those charged know what to expect at each step of the legal process.
Police use the same NHTSA standardized field sobriety testing with under 21 drivers to determine whether or not an individual is impaired or intoxicated. The fact of the matter is even if a minor has small amounts of alcohol, the police will still run through the normal side of the road tests prior to conducting a preliminary breath test in order to establish probable cause.
Even if they are able to pass the tests as far as standard field sobriety testing, as long as there is any amount of alcohol in the system detected by the breathalyzer or blood test, they can still be charged and prosecuted for OWI.
Underage OWI is a serious matter and a conviction will be marked as a misdemeanor on their permanent criminal record and could be used as a prior offense if there is another conviction in the future. Additionally, there is the possibility of jail time if the individual is unable to meet the judge’s conditions, all of which make contact with a Michigan underage OWI lawyer imperative.
Minors with any BAC are going to be heard in Michigan district courts. It is unlikely that it would ever be brought to a circuit court unless it was attached to an actual felony. It is very important that defendants do treat this like a regular drunk driving charge, an operating while intoxicated (OWI) in Michigan, because it is going to be treated very similar to that by the court.
There are certain judges and prosecutors that are much more lenient when it comes to somebody a little underage because they feel that maybe they should be given a break. On the other side of the coin, there are certain judges and prosecutors that actually are very hard on people who are drinking underage and driving in order to teach them a lesson now and prevent it happening again in the future. They will impose greater penalties than a traditional adult OWI conviction would receive, such as essays, curfews, and things of that nature, making it important those charged have an underage OWI attorney in Michigan who is familiar with the local court system and it’s judges.