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Michigan DUI Charges

There are a variety of DUI charges that an individual could face when arrested for a DUI with varying sentences. The circumstances of your arrest, be it on private property or a construction zone, as well as the number of previous DUI convictions you have previously had will greatly affect how the judge and prosecution may treat you. A driving under the influence conviction in Michigan significantly changes your life. Because Michigan law does not permit expungement – or legal erasure – of a drunken driving conviction, it can follow you in perpetuity.

You are not only facing serious charges and potential jail time, but under Michigan law, you must appear before the court within 77 days of the alleged offense. That means time is of the essence in hiring a skilled attorney. If you are facing any one of these charges, contact a Michigan DUI lawyer today.

DUI Offenses

Under the Michigan Vehicle Code, anyone aged 21 or over found driving with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) in excess of 0.08 percent faces Michigan DUI charges. A driver with a BAC of 0.17 percent or higher faces additional penalties.

Drivers under the legal drinking age of 21 cannot have any alcohol in their system, although a BAC of 0.02 percent is permissible if proven it was consumed at a “generally recognized religious ceremony.” Michigan’s DUI laws pertain to all types of motor vehicles, so a person faces arrest if caught operating a boat, snowmobile, all-terrain vehicle or go-cart with a BAC level above the minimum. Michigan DUI is also known as Operating While Intoxicated (OWI).

Other Offenses

OUIL, which stands for operating under the influence of liquor, is the common law theory of OWI. When operating under this theory, the state is trying to show that your ability to safely drive a vehicle was substantially lessened due to the consumption of alcohol or a controlled substance. To prove this, the prosecution will generally use witnesses to testify that you were, in fact, drunk.

UBAL—short for unlawful blood alcohol level—is the statutory theory of OWI. To prove OWI under this theory, all the prosecution must do is demonstrate that a chemical test reliably and accurately showed your BAC to be .08% or higher at the time you were pulled over.


Even a first time offender can end up going to jail for a DUI in Michigan. Penalties for a first DUI offense in Michigan include:

  • Up to 93 days incarceration
  • $100 to $500 fine
  • $1,000 annual Driver Responsibility fee for two years
  • Up to 360 days of community service
  • 30-day license suspension, with restrictions for another 150 days
  • Six points on the driving record

Drivers with a BAC above 0.17 percent face up to 180 days incarceration, a fine of $200 to $700, and a one-year license suspension, along with the same amount of points, community service hours, and Driver Responsibility fees. After 45 days, drivers may become eligible for license restrictions, including the installation of an ignition interlock device on any motor vehicles they own or operate.

Those with prior DUI convictions face stiffer penalties if they are arrested again for a DUI. Any conviction within seven years of a prior DUI can mean:

  • Up to one year in jail
  • Vehicle forfeiture
  • Fines of up to $1,000
  • Possible five-year driver’s license revocation

How a DUI Lawyer Can Help

Anyone charged with a DUI requires strong counsel. Not only could the person serve jail time and pay considerable fines and fees, but a conviction can affect future employment, increase car insurance rates, and the ability to qualify for loans or scholarships. A DUI attorney knows which factors to consider in the pursuit of the case, including fully investigating the circumstances and results of the blood alcohol or breath test.

If you or a loved one are facing Michigan DUI charges, you need the services of a lawyer to help you aggressively defend your case. An attorney will review your situation and advise you of your best options for fighting these DUI charges.