Getting arrested for DUI in Genesee County can have serious consequences, including potential jail time, fines, and license suspensions. This is why those who are facing drunk driving charges in Flint should consider consulting with an experienced Flint DUI lawyer. A lawyer with experience representing DUI clients in the district in which you have been charged can provide valuable legal guidance through each step of the legal process, from the time you are arrested to after the conclusion of the case.
Each case is unique and the best legal path will depend on the particular circumstances of the case, but a seasoned DUI lawyer can attempt to get charges reduced or dismissed, arrange for a plea deal, represent the client at trial, seek an expungement, and assist the client with restoring a suspended driver’s license following a conviction or guilty plea.
Flint criminal defense attorney Shaun Marks has been representing those charged with OWI for over 27 years. You can learn more about what to do after getting arrested for DUI in Flint or the surrounding area by contacting the Shaun Marks law office today for a free consultation.
What is the Difference Between DUI and OWI?
While DUI may be a universally recognizable acronym for driving under the influence, the legal phrasing for DUI offenses varies from state to state. In Michigan, offenses related to driving under the influence are known as operating while intoxicated, or OWI. Michigan state law recognizes three types of OWI violations:
- A driver’s ability to safely operate their motor vehicle was significantly affected by alcohol, drugs, or another intoxicant.
- A bodily alcohol content (BAC) of at least 0.08, as determined by a chemical test.
- Bodily alcohol contents over 0.17 are deemed “High BAC” and subject to more serious charges and penalties.
DUI may be the more common term for offenses related to driving under the influence, but in Michigan, those who are accused of driving under the influence are charged with OWI. If you have been charged with OWI in Flint or elsewhere in Genesee County, you can learn more about how to approach your case by contacting an experienced OWI lawyer.
What are the Penalties for OWI in Michigan?
The severity of penalties for OWI convictions varies depending on the circumstances of the case. Those with previous convictions are subject to harsher penalties, along with those who registered a BAC of 0.17 or higher. Additionally, a felony OWI charge may be filed for a third conviction in the driver’s lifetime, a conviction involving a death, or a conviction for an OWI that caused serious injuries to another person.
First-time offenders for OWI in Flint will be subject to the following penalties if their BAC was 0.08 or higher but less than 0.17:
- Mandatory six-month driver’s license suspension, with possible eligibility for a restricted license after 30 days.
- A jail sentence of up to 93 days.
- Up to 360 hours of community service
- A fine between $100 and $500
- The court has the option to order vehicle immobilization or ignition interlock requirements.
- Six points are added to the defendant’s driving record
An OWI with a High BAC (Super Drunk) is a first offense involving a BAC of at least 0.17 and will be subject to the following penalties in the event of a conviction:
- A maximum jail sentence of 180 days
- Fines between $200 and $700
- As much as 360 hours of community service
- A one-year driver’s license suspension with eligibility for a license with restrictions after 45 days, but only if an ignition interlock device is installed on every vehicle the offender owns or plans to use.
- Offenders who operate a vehicle without a mandatory ignition interlock device may have their license plates confiscated.
- Convictions for driving a vehicle without a properly installed ignition interlock device carry a penalty of mandatory vehicle immobilization.
Restoring a Suspended Driver’s License After an OWI in Flint
A driver’s license suspension can cause serious difficulties in your personal life by making it difficult to commute to work and continue making a living. Fortunately, an experienced Flint OWI lawyer like Shaun Marks can help clients work towards restoring their driving privileges following a suspension for driving under the influence. Attorney Marks has an impressive track record in restoring driver’s licenses after OWI suspensions with a success rate of 94%.
In order to restore a suspended driver’s license, you and your lawyer will need to file an appeal with the Michigan Secretary of State’s Office of Administrative Hearings and Oversight (OHAO). A state hearing officer from the OHAO will evaluate the appeal. Applicants are required to provide evidence that they have controlled their alcohol problem and that they are likely to remain in control of the problem.
A Flint DUI lawyer can be useful for this process, as lawyers with driver’s license restoration experience understand how the process works and what type of evidence the OHAO will be looking for. An attorney can help their client meet all of the requirements and potentially improve their chances of recovering their driving privileges.
Can an OWI Conviction be Expunged in Genesee County?
While a criminal record can cause complications like difficulty finding employment, the state of Michigan allows one-time OWI offenders to remove the conviction from their record through expungement. This is a relatively new option, as it was passed into law in late 2021 and the state began accepting applications in February 2022.
Those with OWI convictions are required to wait for at least five years after the completion of their sentence before they can apply for expungement. Additionally, only non-violent OWI convictions that did not involve injuries or deaths are eligible for expungement.
If you are seeking an OWI expungement, Flint OWI lawyer Shaun Marks can help guide you through the process and offer legal guidance for expungements in Genesee County and surrounding counties like Oakland County, Lapeer County, Shiawassee County, and Saginaw County.
Can You be Charged with OWI in Michigan With a BAC Below .08?
You cannot be charged with OWI in Michigan for a BAC below .08, but the police may charge you with an offense called operating while visibly impaired (OWVI) if you appear to be intoxicated to the point that your driving ability is likely impaired. A conviction for OWVI carries lesser penalties than an OWI conviction. Defense lawyers often attempt to get OWI charges reduced to OWVI when negotiating plea agreements.
Can You Refuse a Breathalyzer Test in Michigan?
A police officer cannot force you to take a breathalyzer test unless they have a warrant. While you have the right to refuse the test, Michigan law levies an automatic one-year license suspension against any driver who does so. Six points will also be added to your driving record for refusing a chemical test.
Additionally, refusing to take a chemical sobriety test does not prevent an OWI charge. The officer may obtain a warrant for a mandatory chemical test or blood test if they believe there is probable cause that you have been driving under the influence.
Can You be Charged with OWI for Prescription Medications?
OWI charges apply to both alcohol and drugs, including prescription medications. If you have taken a medication or other drug-like marijuana that causes impairment or intoxication and are pulled over, you could be charged with OWI. It is critical to be aware of any intoxicating effects and avoid driving if you have taken a medication or drugs that can cause impairment.
Contact a DUI Lawyer Near Me
If you are facing OWI charges in Genesee County or a nearby county, a strong legal defense is critical. Flint DUI lawyer Shaun Marks has more than 27 years of experience in representing defendants in Genesee County OWI cases, including driver’s license restoration and expungement. Contact Attorney Marks today for a free consultation regarding the circumstances of your case.