Michigan’s Legal Limit

You may be charged with drunk driving in the state of Michigan if your behavior, appearance, and scent demonstrate intoxication to a law enforcement officer or if a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) test indicates you were over the legal limit for driving.

A failed BAC test commonly results in a drunk driving charge, known in Michigan as operating while intoxicated (OWI) and throughout the US as driving while under the influence (DUI). The penalties for an OWI conviction can be severe and can include jail time and losing your driver’s license. While difficult, it is not impossible to prevail in court with a failed BAC test if you have an experienced DUI defense attorney.

For these reasons, all Michigan drivers need to know the legal BAC limit. Refusing to drive after drinking is the only sure way to avoid an OWI criminal charge. However, if you are facing an OWI charge, do not enter a plea without first consulting with an experienced Lansing OWI attorney.

The attorneys at O’Keefe Law can work with you to understand your case and plan the best strategy available. Please call us at 517-273-0428 to schedule a free consultation and discuss your OWI case.

What is the legal blood alcohol limit in Michigan?

Most drivers in Michigan cannot test at 0.08 percent BAC or higher without being charged with OWI. For drivers under 21, any detectable amount of alcohol results in criminal charges and penalties. Commercial driver’s license holders and vehicle operators must test below a legal limit of 0.04 percent BAC.

Law enforcement can determine your BAC using a roadside breathalyzer test. While results from a roadside BAC test are not admissible in court, they are probable cause for an officer to arrest you for driving while intoxicated. After the authorities have you in custody, you are required to take a blood, urine, or breath test to officially determine your BAC.

Prosecutors may use the results from this test against you in a criminal trial. You have the option of refusing this test, but that results in the automatic suspension of your driving privileges.

Knowing your limits and your options can prevent suspension of your driver’s license, fines, and jail time for an OWI offense. Don’t hesitate to contact the experienced criminal defense attorneys at O’Keefe Law if you or a family member are facing a drunk driving charge.

Does anything affect my BAC after drinking?

People metabolize or process alcohol differently based on their weight and the amount of alcohol consumed. The presence of food, tolerance for alcohol, and other factors also affect its absorption into the blood. The list below estimates the average number of drinks people of different weights can consume before reaching a 0.08 percent BAC.

  • 100 pounds – approximately 2 drinks
  • 120 pounds – approximately 2 drinks
  • 140 pounds – approximately 3 drinks
  • 160 pounds – approximately 3 drinks
  • 180 pounds – approximately 4 drinks
  • 200 pounds – approximately 4 drinks
  • 220 pounds – approximately 5 drinks
  • 240 pounds – approximately 5 drinks

These estimates assume a drink is equivalent to one of the following:

  • 5 ounces of liquor
  • 12 ounces of beer
  • 5 ounces of wine

Note that these are only estimates. The only surefire way of avoiding an OWI charge is to avoid driving if you’ve been drinking. Without serving yourself, it is difficult to know the amount of alcohol you’re consuming. Even if you are confident your BAC is below the legal limit, an officer can still charge you with OWI if they suspect you are driving under the influence.

Other factors affecting your BAC include the following:

  • Age. Younger people generally metabolize alcohol more efficiently.
  • Gender. The body’s water content is proportionately lower for women, who are generally more affected by alcohol than men.
  • Body type. Muscle fiber has a relatively higher water content and can result in a lower BAC for physically fit individuals.
  • Medication. Many medications don’t mix well with alcohol and can increase your level of intoxication without additional drinking.
  • Food. Eating while drinking is advisable to avoid rapid intoxication and a corresponding rapid rise in BAC.
  • Genetic predisposition. Alcohol affects different people differently, and some of that is genetic. Some people may get drunk quickly or, conversely, be able to consume a great deal of alcohol without getting intoxicated beyond the legal limit.

O’Keefe Law Can Help You

Facing  drunk driving charges is a serious matter. Rapid response on your part is necessary to avoid the severe consequences of an OWI conviction. You want a respected criminal defense attorney experienced in Michigan OWI cases to serve as counsel on your behalf at all proceedings.

O’Keefe Law has built its reputation on successfully representing their clients in OWI cases. Contact O’Keefe Law today for a confidential, free consultation at 517-273-0428.