If you are one of the many Michigan residents who have been charged with OWI, you are undoubtedly worried about the consequences you now face.Will you go to jail or lose your license? What will your friends and family think? Although some of these questions cannot be immediately addressed, understanding the Michigan OWI process can help reduce your fears.
When you were arrested for OWI, the arresting officer most likely used a breath, blood, or urine test to determine your blood alcohol content (BAC) level. If your BAC was above the legal limits—.08% for drivers 21 or older, .04% for commercial drivers, and .02% for anyone under 21—you will remain in custody for at least eight hours. After this, you may post any required bond and, in most cases, return home. If you do not qualify for release or cannot post bond, you will remain in jail until your arraignment.
During your arraignment, a judge will officially inform you of the charges against you, and ask how you plea. If you plead guilty, you will be sentenced immediately. If you enter a not guilty plea, the judge will schedule a second court date, which is known as a pretrial hearing.
You will meet with the prosecutor assigned to your case at your pretrial hearing. At this time, you will provide the judge with an update of your case, and work with the prosecutor to prevent future scheduling problems. Depending on the nature of your offense, the prosecutor may offer a plea bargain. If this happens, make sure you discuss the arrangement with an OWI attorney before agreeing.
Next come the pretrial motions. Here, you can challenge any evidence used against you and file any necessary defense motions. For example, if your attorney has concerns regarding the validity of evidence, such as breath test results, he or she can file a motion to suppress them. Witnesses may also be cross-examined and/or called at this time.
Finally, the actual DWI trial takes place shortly after the pretrial motions are complete. Although most cases are resolved before this event, your case may go before a jury. If you are found not guilty, all charges will be dismissed. However, if the prosecution proves you committed the offense in question, you will be sentenced shortly after your trial. Penalties for OWI may include community service, license suspension, fines, and jail time.
Fortunately, a skilled attorney can help you fight your OWI charges. From your initial arraignment to the trial itself, attorney Patrick T. Barone has the legal know-how to represent you during all stages of the OWI process. Contact the Barone Defense Firm today for your free consultation.