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Michigan DUI First Offense Charges

The legal blood alcohol content (BAC) limit for drivers over 21 in Michigan is .08%. If you are found driving while having a BAC of this level or higher, you can be charged with driving under the influence, or DUI. The state’s Zero Tolerance law makes it a crime for underage drivers to operate a vehicle with a BAC above .02%. The state’s Super Drunk law makes it an even more serious crime to have a BAC at or above .17%.

BAC is typically determined through a breath, blood or urine chemical test. Please note that even if you refuse to submit to a chemical test, you can still be charged with drunk driving and face penalties and a suspended drivers license.

First Offense Penalties

The potential punishment for first offense drunk driving is up to 93 days in jail, a 100-500 dollar fine and up to 360 hours of community service.  In addition to this, your driver’s license will be suspended for 180 days with no driving for the first 30 days.  During the next 150 days you will have a restricted license that will allow you to drive, 24 hours a day 7 days a week to and from (and where applicable during) the following: place of employment, education, medical care for you and your family – essentially no pleasure driving, such as groceries banking, etc.

If  you have prior Michigan or out of state offenses that are substantially similar, and these are more than 7 years old, then you will still be charged as a first offender.  However, the judge can still take this information into consideration in deciding where within that 180 days, your sentence should fall.

There are circumstances where you may have one prior within 7 years or even 2 priors within your lifetime and still be charged as a first offender.   On the other hand, your lawyer may be able to have the case reduced from a second offense or felony drunk driving to a first offense. If this is true, then the penalties from the court will be first offense penalties, but the driver license sanction will be a second or third offense driver license sanction, meaning 1 – 5 year license revocation.

It is very typical for a first offense drunk driving to be reduced to the alcohol related charge of impaired driving.  This is also a 93 day alcohol related misdemeanor.  However, the fine is lower, up to $300 and there are fewer points 4 rather than 6 and most significantly there is no license loss, as an impaired driving will result in a 90 day restricted license.

Misdemeanor vs. Felony Charge

A first-offense OWI charge is classified as a misdemeanor. If found guilty, the judge could order you to:

  • Spend up to 93 days in jail
  • Pay up to $500 in fines
  • Perform 360 hours of community service
  • Complete a court-approved alcohol and drug education program

In addition, your license penalties may include a 30-day suspension and 150 days of restricted driving. If it is a Super Drunk first offense, you could face up to 180 days in jail and a one-year suspension of your drivers license. If you were involved in an accident that resulted in serious bodily injury or death, you could face felony charges.

Collateral Consequences

Even after you complete the terms of your sentence, you may face other collateral consequences such as ineligibility for certain jobs or educational loans, academic probation, increased auto insurance rates, and even the loss of your job.

Building a Defense

Fortunately, a skilled first offense OWI attorney can help you fight your drunk driving charges. With over a decade of experience in OWI defense, attorney Patrick T. Barone has the knowledge to represent you. Contact Barone Defense Firm today for a free consultation on your case.