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Michigan DUI Jail Penalties

Jail time is frequently imposed as a penalty for drunk driving convictions in Michigan.  This does not mean however that you are going to jail.  Such a specific answer will depend on many factors, and while most first time offenders do not go to jail, in some cases with some judges even lengthy jail time is imposed for those offenders with no criminal background.  Also, in some cases with some kinds of drunk driving convictions jail time is mandatory.

Repeat Offenders

It is not uncommon for those drivers who are repeat offenders to see at least some jail time.  For a second offense within 7 years there is a “soft” minimum mandatory sentence of 5 days. This is true also of felony drunk driving, where a hard mandatory 30 days of jail must be imposed. Felony drunk driving (without serious injury or death) has a specific meaning in Michigan law.

According to MCLA 257.625, if you have two prior drunk driving offenses at any time or in your life, or one prior child endangerment in the last seven years, then your case is classified as a felony. This simply means that you are subject to enhanced penalties, including jail time. The maximum penalty for felony drunk driving is five years, and even higher if you are a habitual offender. Jail time is also imposed almost always imposed for more serious drunk driving offenses, including those cases involving serious injury or death.

Possibility of Jail Time

In thinking about the possibility of jail time, kept in mind that for felony drunk driving many offenders goes to jail for much longer than the minimum mandatory. The length of incarceration almost always varies, sometimes significantly, depending on where your case is being handled (what court) and the specific facts and circumstances of your case and your personal background.

Here is very general jail time breakdown for various drunk driving offenses:

  • First Offense OWI – up to 93 days in jail.
  • First Offense OWI with high BAC (bodily alcohol content) – up to 180 days in jail.
  • Second Offense OWI – 5 days to 1 year in Jail.
  • Felony OWI – 30 days to 1 year.
  • OWI Causing Serious Injury – up to 5 years
  • OWI Causing Death – up to 15 years.

As stated above, if this is your first drunk driving arrest in Michigan, then in most instances there will be no jail time.  However, every case is different, and so is every court and every judge.  Many first time offenders do in fact get sent to jail.

Also, if you violate your bond, by for example using drugs or alcohol, or if you violate your probation, then there is a much higher likelihood of going to jail.  This is true of first offense drunk driving in Michigan as well.  Consequently, always be absolutely sure you understand your bond conditions, and maintain complete abstinence from any illegal drug or alcohol while on bond.  If you are not sure what the judge ordered in your case, then discuss it in detail with your lawyer.

Benefit of An Attorney

If you are facing a first offense OWI, then it is important for you to discuss the possibility of jail time with your experienced drunk driving /OWI lawer. Also discuss with your lawyer what you should be doing right now to reduce the possibility of going to jail.