Michigan prosecutions for driving under the influence are “Operating While Intoxicated” or “OWI” prosecutions. Generally, charges for OWI can be brought for operating a motor vehicle in a place generally open to the public with either a blood alcohol level of .08 or greater, or if alcohol has materially and substantially affected a motorist’s ability to operate a vehicle in a normal manner. Most people don’t realize the harsh consequences that can result from an OWI conviction. In Michigan, these convictions are not eligible for first-offender deferred judgment programs, and remain on a person’s record forever. Driver license sanctions include suspensions, driver responsibility fees, and points assessed against a master driving record. Repeat offenses are severely punished, with the possibility of vehicle immobilization and/or forfeiture, and in some instances, mandatory jail sentences. Since 2007, a person charged with a 3rd or subsequent offense in their lifetime can be charged with a felony.
- Can I be charged if my blood alcohol level is less than .08? Yes. If alcohol has materially and substantially affected a motorist’s ability to operate a vehicle in a normal manner, or if a motorist’s ability to operate a vehicle is visibly impaired by alcohol, DUI/OWI charges can still be rendered.
- Can I be charged if I’m not under the influence but have an illegal drug in my system? Yes. In Michigan, if a motorist operates a vehicle with the mere presence of an unlawful substance in their system, including marijuana, a motorist can be charged with operating with the presence of a controlled substance “OWPD,” even if the substance is not affecting the motorist’s ability to drive.
- Can I be charged for taking my prescribed medication? Yes. If the prescribed medication affects a motorist’s ability to operate a vehicle in a normal manner, that motorist can be charged with operating while intoxicated or impaired by a controlled substance.
- What are the consequences for failing to take a breath test? There are two breath tests utilized in Michigan. A roadside preliminary breath test, “PBT”, is used as a tool to determine probable cause for arrest. A motorist’s failure to submit to a properly requested PBT can result in the issuance of a civil infraction (traffic ticket), having the consequence of fines and no further sanction to the motorist’s driver’s license. A motorist’s refusal to submit to the evidential, or “DataMaster”, test at a police station can result in serious sanctions to the motorist’s operator’s license, including a suspension of driving privileges for a year, without restrictions.
- Can I be charged if I’m “sleeping it off” in my car? It depends. In Michigan, a motorist is deemed to be “operating” if they are in a position of authority and control over a vehicle and that vehicle represents a danger of collision.
- What if I am less than 21? In Michigan, a motorist less than 21 can be charged with a “Zero Tolerance” OWI offense meaning that any amount of alcohol in the motorist’s system, even if not influencing that person’s ability to operate a vehicle, can render charges.
In over 30 years of criminal defense practice, Joseph A. Simon has successfully helped thousands of people charged with DUI/OWI offenses, aggressively challenging illegal traffic stops, unlawful arrests, and breath or blood testing procedures. Contact our firm at 734-887-6200 to see why so many people in Washtenaw, Wayne, Lenawee and Jackson counties charged with DUI/OWI drunk driving charges have chosen Ann Arbor criminal defense attorney, Joseph A. Simon, to be their defense attorney and protector of their freedom and reputation.