An arrest for allegedly driving under the influence should always be taken seriously, as a conviction for OWI and other related offenses in Michigan may involve serious penalties. Depending on the circumstances of the case and other variables, the sentencing could involve jail time, fines, and a suspended driver’s license. Individuals who are facing these charges are entitled to legal representation.
If you have been charged with OWI or another offense related to driving under the influence, Clarkston criminal defense attorney Shaun Marks is prepared to provide you with legal guidance. Shaun has over 27 years of experience in criminal defense and regularly works with clients that have been charged with DUI offenses in Clarkston and throughout Oakland County. Contact Shaun today for a free consultation to learn more about your legal options.
Michigan Law on OWI
Many states legally classify offenses related to driving under the influence as DUI, but Michigan law recognizes this type of offense as OWI, or operating while intoxicated. The terms DUI and DWI are used in the laws against drunk driving in many states. The Michigan OWI law refers to the same type of offense.
According to Section 257.625 of the Michigan Legislature, an individual can be charged with OWI if any of the following circumstances apply:
- A BAC of .08% or higher
- Any amount of a controlled substance in the blood
- Drivers under 21 years old with a BAC of .02% or higher
- If a police officer believes they have observation evidence, such as field sobriety tests
The prosecution must establish that the arresting officer had sufficient evidence to make the OWI arrest. Even in cases involving a failed breathalyzer test, prosecutors are still responsible for proving that the police officer administered the test correctly and accurately, and that the defendant’s civil rights were not violated.
Other DUI-Related Offenses in Michigan
In addition to OWI, Michigan recognizes a few other criminal offenses related to driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs:
- Operating while visibly impaired (OWVI) – A driver can be charged with OWVI if they appear to be driving while intoxicated to an ordinary person. This charge can be based on testimony from other drivers who have reported a suspected impaired driver.
- Operating under the influence of intoxicating liquor (OUIL) – This charge can be filed even without a blood or breathalyzer test, but prosecutors must demonstrate that the suspect’s driving ability was significantly impaired by the consumption of alcohol.
- Unlawful bodily alcohol level (UBAL) – UBAL charges are based on the results of a BAC test. Individuals who were at or above .08% may be charged with UBAL in addition to OWI, even if their ability to drive was not impaired.
- Operating with a High BAC > .17..(SuperDrunk). If you are arrested and your alcohol level is .17 or higher, you could be charged with this offense. Super Drunk carries enhanced penalties including more potential, higher fines and a much more severe drivers license penalty.
In some cases, an OWI charge may be filed alongside one or more of these related charges. If you have been charged with OWI or any of these OWI-related offenses, you should consider discussing your case with an experienced Oakland County DUI lawyer.
How Can an DUI Defense Lawyer Help?
While the penalties for an OWI conviction can sometimes be severe, there are many cases in which these charges may be reduced or even dismissed. A criminal defense lawyer who specializes in DUI cases can help a client explore all legal options and plan a sound legal strategy based on all of the relevant facts of the case.
The options of each client will vary based on their background and the circumstances of the arrest, but here are some of the main services that an OWI defense lawyer may provide.
A lawyer can act as their client’s legal representative throughout the criminal justice process, beginning shortly after their arrest. They can provide legal guidance before court appearances and also represent their clients in court. This representation can also continue after the conclusion of the case, in the form of expungements and driver’s license restorations.
Detailed Case Evaluations
An attorney can conduct a meticulous overview of all of the facts of an OWI case. In some situations, the attorney may find grounds to have the charges reduced or dismissed. For example, charges could be dismissed if the court determines that there was insufficient evidence for the arrest. Following this detailed case evaluation, an attorney can help their client plan a strategy based on the circumstances.
Negotiating Plea Agreements
If an attorney believes a conviction is highly likely, he may suggest pursuing a plea agreement that allows the client to receive a lighter sentence in exchange for a guilty plea. This is common for first-time offenders. In some situations, the court may agree to alternative sentencing options in lieu of jail time, such as mandatory alcohol abuse treatment and community service.
Driver’s License Restoration
Clarkston OWI lawyer Shaun Marks represents DUI clients in all steps of the legal process, including driver’s license restorations. Michigan assesses mandatory driver’s license suspensions for even first-time OWI convictions. However, the state also allows drivers to appeal these suspensions and apply to have their licenses restored. An attorney can provide useful legal guidance throughout this process. Shaun Marks has a 94% success rate in driver’s license restorations.
Criminal Record Expungements
Michigan allows everyone to apply for one expungement in their lifetimes for most minor crimes, including non-felony OWI. While expungement is the more common legal term, Michigan Courts define this opportunity as a “set-aside”. Those who successfully navigate this process can have an OWI charge deleted from their public criminal record. Criminal defense lawyer Shaun Marks can provide legal counsel throughout the set aside process.
What are the Types of DUI Charges?
In Michigan, offenses related to driving under the influence are legally known as OWI, or operating while intoxicated. An individual who is arrested for driving a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol content level of 0.08% or higher will likely be charged with OWI. These charges can be filed for any type of motor vehicle while under the influence. Michigan also has a separate charge called operating while visibly impaired, or OWVI. A police officer may file this charge if they believe that a driver is not capable of driving safely because the driver is under the influence of alcohol or drugs, regardless of their BAC.
What are the DUI Penalties in Michigan?
The penalties for driving under the influence in Michigan vary depending on whether the suspect has previous convictions and other factors related to the arrest. Here is a quick overview of the penalties for DUI offenses in Michigan:
- First-time OWI offenders may face up to 93 days in jail, fines between $100 and $500, up to 360 hours of community service, a suspended license, vehicle immobilization, and the use of an ignition interlock device during probation, depending on the court’s discretion.
- Super Drunk or Operating with a High BAC > .17 is up to 180 days in jail, fines up to $750, mandatory alcohol treatment for 1 year, and license suspension for 45 days followed by a restricted license for 10 ½ months with an ignition interlock (blow machine) device.
- A second OWI offense carries possible penalties of between 5 days and one year in jail, fines between $200 and $1,000, 30-90 days of community service, a possible order for the use of an ignition interlock device during probation, and mandatory vehicle immobilization.
A third OWI conviction carries penalties of 1-5 years in prison, fines between $500 and $5,000, probation with at least 30 days jail (and up to one year), 60-180 days of community service, an ignition interlock device during probation, and mandatory vehicle immobilization.
Contact Clarkston OWI Lawyer Shaun Marks
If you have been charged with OWI in Michigan, you should consider your legal options. Veteran Clarkston OWI lawyer Shaun Marks can help you understand which legal options are available to you based on the circumstances of your case. With over 27 years of experience in DUI cases, Marks has extensive experience representing clients in local OWI cases in Oakland County. Contact Shaun’s criminal defense law firm today to learn more about your case in a free consultation.