In Michigan, a conviction for operating while intoxicated (OWI) can result in a wide range of penalties, which vary based on a few different factors. Those with prior OWI convictions will have higher potential penalties. If you have been arrested on OWI charges, Michigan OWI attorney Shaun R. Marks is prepared to help you understand the penalties you face and provide legal guidance on how to best handle your case.
What Are the Penalties for a First-Time OWI in Michigan?
In Michigan, drunk driving offenses are classified as OWI. Someone can be convicted of OWI for driving with a blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08% or higher. A first-time conviction for OWI in Michigan carries the following penalties:
- Up to 93 days in jail
- Fine between $100 and $500
- 360 hours (within 45 days) of community service
- Potential vehicle immobilization
- Possible mandatory ignition interlock device while on probation
- License suspension and restricted licenses
An OWI charge is considered a first offense if the accused has no prior OWI convictions within the past seven years. Convictions that are older than seven years do not count.
Penalties for Second Michigan OWI Convictions
A second OWI conviction in Michigan carries potentially higher penalties, including:
- Between five days and one year in jail
- Fines between $200 and $1,000
- 30-90 days of community service
- Installation of an ignition interlock device at the court’s discretion
- Mandatory vehicle immobilization
- Driver’s license revoked
A second offense for OWI will result in your driver’s license being revoked, which is much different than a license suspension. A license revocation is indefinite, which means you will need to apply to have your license restored by the Michigan Secretary of State if you want to get your driving privileges back. Drivers with revoked licenses may also apply for a restricted license after 45 days.
Penalties For Third OWI Offenses in Michigan
A third OWI offense in Michigan will result in felony OWI charges. While the state only looks back to the past seven years when determining if an OWI counts as a second offense, there is a lifetime lookback period for third OWI offenses. This means that regardless of how long ago the previous two offenses were, someone arrested on OWI charges for the third time will be charged with a felony and the charge will remain on their criminal record.
The penalties for a third offense felony OWI in Michigan may include:
- Between one and five years in prison
- Fines between $500 and $5,000
- At least 30 days of jail (up to one year)
- 60-180 days of community service
- Ignition interlock device, based on the court’s discretion
- Mandatory vehicle immobilization
- Driver’s license revocation when there are 2 or more convictions within 7 years, or 3 convictions within 10 years
- 6 points added to driving record
Restoring a Driver’s License After an OWI
Losing driving privileges can be one of the most life-disrupting consequences of an OWI conviction. However, drivers can apply to have these privileges reinstated through a driver’s license restoration. Michigan OWI attorney Shaun Marks has helped countless clients restore Michigan driving licenses, with a 94% success rate.
A first-time OWI conviction carries a 6-month suspension, rather than revocation. Drivers can apply for a restricted license after serving at least 30 days of this suspension. Restricted license grants limited driving privileges – typically the privilege to drive to and from work, school, probation, or other court-ordered activities. If the driver has had no other legal issues during the suspension period, their full license may be reinstated after six months.
Restoring a revoked driver’s license for a second or third OWI conviction can be more complex. You will need to apply for a license reinstatement hearing, which involves the following steps:
- Fill out and sign a Hearing Request Application
- Ask 3-6 friends, family members, or coworkers to complete a community support letter
- Have a drug and alcohol evaluator complete a substance use evaluation
- Order a lab report for a 12-panel drug screen
- Gather relevant documents like ignition interlock reports and certification of completion or participation in a recovery program like Alcoholics Anonymous
Can OWI Convictions be Expunged in Michigan?
Individuals who only have one OWI conviction may have that conviction expunged in Michigan, as of 2021. However, there is a mandatory waiting period of at least five years after the sentence has been completed. You must maintain a clean criminal record during this waiting period, as subsequent arrests or convictions could prevent you from expunging the OWI charge. Second and subsequent OWI convictions or first offenses that involved a serious injury accident or death are not eligible for expungement.
Learn More From Michigan OWI Lawyer Shaun Marks
If you have recently been charged with OWI in Michigan, it is important to understand the potential penalties you face, as well as your legal options. While an OWI conviction can have serious penalties, a strong legal defense is key. Experienced Michigan OWI lawyer Shaun Marks can stand by your side through each step of the legal process, from fighting the charges to expunging a conviction and restoring a revoked or suspended license. Call Shaun today at (866) 986-5492 to schedule a free consultation.
Attorney Shaun Marks had received his Juris Doctor degree with Cum Laude honors from the Detroit College of Law in 1994. He received his undergraduate degree in Criminal Justice from the University of Michigan-Flint. He has served in the U.S. Air force Security Police and as an Assistant city Attorney for the City of Flint. He has also worked in the office of former U.S. Senator Donald Riegle. Attorney Marks has successfully represented thousands of clients in criminal matters in state and federal courts across Michigan.