The state courts in Michigan see so many DUI cases that they often rush through verdicts and sentencing. It’s your job to find a lawyer that can slow down the process.
Don’t let courts automatically convict you of a DUI. It can have severe repercussions on your life and your ability to earn money. If you’re willing to fight a DUI charge, you need to choose an attorney that can help return a ‘not guilty’ verdict.
Don’t waste your time with generalist lawyers who have little experience in DUI court. If you want to win a DUI case, you need to hire a lawyer that understands the complexities of Michigan’s DUI laws. There’s much more than meets the eye in your standard DUI case.
Below, we’ll explore Michigan DUIs in more detail.
Two Forms of DUI (OWI)
Many people don’t’ realize that there are two different ways to obtain a DUI (OWI) in the state of Michigan. Let’s take a look at these two DUI forms and explain how they may impact you.
This is the most common form of DUI, and it’s what many people falsely assume to be the only form of DUI. If you’re in the state of Michigan, the legal limit for alcohol in your blood is .08. If you test over this, you will most likely be charged with a DUI.
This is the easiest form of DUI for the prosecution to prove. Because they can point to chemical evidence of you breaking the law, they have relatively solid proof that you were over the intoxication limit.
Regardless, you can fight a case based on BAC level. Evidence suggests that these tests are not as accurate as police often claim. Also, the police have to use a proper procedure to test you for your BAC legally.
The other way that the state of Michigan can convict you for a DUI is via evidence of visual impairment. If the state doesn’t have proof of your BAC, but it’s clear that you are extremely intoxicated, they still may receive a conviction.
This is a lot harder to prove. If you’re not intoxicated, but you appear intoxicated, the burden of proof is still on the prosecutor to show how they reached that conclusion.
This form of DUI evidence can make for some interesting courtroom drama. If you want a layer that can help you prove your innocence against this form of charge, make sure to get in contact with O’Keefe Law today!
BAC – Upper Limits
It’s also important to note that while the limit is .08, you can also receive harsher punishment if you are significantly higher than the legal limit. If your test reveals a BAC of over .17, you are considered dangerously drunk according to Michigan law.
This means that you will face harsher initial penalties, even if it’s only your first offense. If you do face charges related to a BAC over .17, it’s essential to involve a lawyer. Not doing so may result in significant license suspension and additional penalties.
If you’re underage, you can face a separate DUI charge for having alcohol in your system. The drinking age in Michigan is 21, meaning you shouldn’t have any alcohol in your system if you’re operating a vehicle between the ages of 16-20.
Many states have a zero-tolerance law when it comes to underage drinking and driving. Michigan on the other hand, does allow some leeway. If you test between .02 and .08, you will face an underage drunk driving charge.
While the punishment for underage drunk driving is not nearly as severe as typical DUIs, you will lose your license for a considerable amount of time.
Keep in mind, if you are underage and test over .08, you will still receive the usual punishment for a regular DUI. Don’t assume that your age disqualifies you from obtaining a standard DUI – it just means you can also receive an underage DUI for .02-.08.
Michigan DUI Punishments
Michigan DUI punishments are primarily dependent on how many times you’ve been caught drinking and driving.
For your first DUI offense, you can receive a maximum of 93 days in jail, 360 hours of volunteering, and up to $500 in fines. The government may also suspend your license.
For your second DUI offense, you may receive up to one year in jail, 360 hours of volunteering, and up to $1,000 in fines.
After you’ve been caught three times, your DUI will most likely become a felony. The court system believes three strikes is enough to warrant a felony trial. If you face a felony conviction, you need to understand the gravity of the situation. Not only may it result in a prison sentence, but it may also disqualify you from owning a firearm or working in specific industries.
On your third DUI, you may also face up to five years in jail, as well as a maximum of $5,000 in fines!
If you test positive for over a .17 BAC level on your first offense, you may receive up to 180 days of jail right away. The government may also suspend your license for up to a year. Those who have their license reinstated will most likely need a sobriety ignition lock installed in their vehicle.
Other Factors to Consider
While the above punishments outline the general penalties for a DUI, there are also other factors to consider.
The state of Michigan is very strict with those who drive under the influence with children in the vehicle. If you are intoxicated and have individuals under the age of 16 in your car, this will most likely contribute to a harder sentence.
Also, you need to consider other issues that may arise if you’re accused of driving while intoxicated. If you’re in an accident, there may be damaged property or injured bystanders involved in your incident.
If you believe police are trying to accuse you of intoxication because of a serious incident on the road, it’s essential to speak with a lawyer immediately. Not doing so may result in charges of manslaughter or criminal damage.
Can You Refuse a Breath Test in Michigan?
Many people ask our firm if they’re within their rights to refuse a breath test. This is a complicated topic as refusing a breath test is not always the best option if you’re looking to avoid severe punishment. Understandably, you may be nervous about taking a breath test as they can often be inaccurate.
Michigan recently considered making refusing a breath test illegal. As of now, this has not occurred; you can still reject a breath test when you’re requested by police to submit to a breathalyzer.
Typically, an officer will conduct a field sobriety test on you, and if you fail, they’ll request a breath sample. If you refuse, they’ll arrest you and take you to the station for further testing.
If you continue to refuse at the station, the police can charge you with refusal to take a breath test. The first offense will result in an automatic year’s license suspension.
As you can see, while a lack of BAC reduces the evidence the police have, it still results in a significant punishment that may impair your ability to work.
Can You Request an Independent Chemical Test?
This is another common question we receive from clients in Michigan. As breath tests and blood samples are known to be less than perfect, many residents in Michigan don’t feel confident a police’s sample will give them a fair assessment of their intoxication level.
Believe it or not, you are allowed to request an independent chemical test from police. But keep in mind, if your independent blood test comes back as over the limit, it may be used in court, regardless of whether you want it to or not.
If a police officer refuses your right to an independent blood test, then this may conflict with your legal rights. If a police officer refused you the right to an independent blood test, make sure to get in touch with one of our DUI attorneys today.
Why You Should Use a DUI Attorney
If you’re facing allegations of a DUI in the state of Michigan, you may be worried that it will impact your ability to earn a living. You’re not alone – we’ve helped hundreds of clients fight their DUI charges in state courts.
If you want a criminal defense attorney that understands DUI laws and their complexity, it’s essential to call O’Keefe Law. Our trial attorneys understand the prosecution and their strategies. We’re here to help you build a solid defense and test the prosecutor.
Most people don’t realize they’re entitled to a fair trial, but it’s one of the most basic tenets of the US legal system. Unfortunately, sometimes you need a world-class lawyer to help ensure you get the fair trial you deserve. Contact O’Keefe Law today if you want to discuss your DUI case and how to win in court.