The state of Michigan has consistently increased penalties on driving while under the influence of alcohol or other substance throughout the years. It is important that if you find yourself charged with Operating While Impaired [OWI] you have an experienced criminal defense attorney working with you in order to ensure that your rights are preserved. Attorney Patrick Chatterton has the knowledge and understanding to help his clients navigate these serious charges.
In Michigan, your drunk driving case will be decided by the court within 77 days after your arrest. This means you need to work quickly in order to have a fair hearing. It is important to contact your attorney immediately so that your attorney will be able to do his best to represent you in court.
Michigan’s drunk driving laws carry stiff penalties. Even those drivers who are convicted for the first time will receive a mandatory six-month driver license suspension. Attorney Chatterton understands that OWI charges can change his clients’ lives. He explains the procedures and the consequences so that his clients are aware of their situation and works with them in order to reach a favorable outcome.
Michigan Operating While Intoxicated [OWI] penalties include:
- A fine of between $100 and $500, as well as either up to 93 days in jail or 360 hours of community service
- Mandatory six-month drivers license suspension and restriction – even for a first conviction
- Possible vehicle mobilization and/or ignition interlock
- Six points added to your driving record
- Mandatory one-year drivers license suspension for operating with a high Blood Alcohol Content [BAC] – .17 or higher
- Payment of a reinstatement fee if your license was revoked, restricted or suspended
- Payment of a Driver Responsibility Free of either $500 or $1000 per year for two consecutive years
- Participation in and completion of at least one court ordered rehabilitation program if the court deems it appropriate – this is mandatory for a defendant with a high BAC conviction or who has had one or more prior convictions
For those who have had at least one previous conviction for OWI, the sanctions are more severe. The courts will hand down sentences that include:
- A fine of between $200 and $1000
- From 30 to 90 days of community service, or from between five days to one year of jail time
- A Driver Responsibility Fee of $1,000 per year for two years
- Harsher penalties for revocation and denial of a drivers license where there are multiple prior convictions – a minimum of 1 year for a second offense, or 5 years if there was a prior revocation within 7 years
- Vehicle immobilization for 90 to 180 days, with the possibility of vehicle forfeiture
- The addition of 6 points to your driving record
While many charges are misdemeanors, more severe offenses are felonies, which result in a minimum of one year in prison as well as a felony criminal record. These include:
- A third OWI conviction
- An OWI conviction that causes death
- An OWI conviction that causes serious injury to another person
In Michigan, a Preliminary Breath Test [PBT] may be given by a police officer. This test may be refused, but refusal can incur a civil infraction which carries a fine of up to $150 plus court costs. However, a refusal to take a PBT does not end the situation. Every driver in Michigan is considered to have given consent to a chemical test to determine Bodily Alcohol Content [BAC]. Refusal of this test incurs consequences which are separate from any convictions that result from the traffic stop. A hearing may be held, and if the officer proves his case, the results include:
- Adding six points to the driver’s record
- Drivers license suspension for one year for the first time refusing the test
- Drivers license suspension for two years if there has been a refusal in the previous seven years
Because the consequences are so high, it is imperative that a skilled, knowledgeable attorney represent those who are charged with OWI. Attorney Chatterton has the depth of understanding and experience with OWI cases necessary in order to safeguard his clients’ rights and work toward the most favorable outcome. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.