Drunk Driving Laws


DUI Defense Firm in Michigan Representing Clients in Ann Arbor, Detroit, Grand Rapids, Lansing, and Throughout Michigan Charged with DUI/OWI

The principal drunk driving charge in the state of Michigan is OWI, or operating while intoxicated. Other acronyms used to describe offenses associated with drunk or impaired driving include OUI (operating under the influence), DUIL (driving under the influence of liquor), OWVI (operating while visibly impaired), and OUIL (operating under the influence of liquor). While all are related, each charge is really quite distinct. As highly regarded Michigan drunk driving attorneys, the team at Grabel & Associates know that regardless of the charge, it is essential to obtain the services of a skilled and experienced lawyer in order to obtain a good outcome.

An arrest does not necessarily mean you will be convicted of the offense you have been charged with. While Michigan drunk driving laws do call for harsh penalties for those convicted, there are numerous defense strategies that may be effective in helping avoid these criminal penalties depending on your particular circumstances. Unfortunately, Michigan has some of the most severe criminal penalties in the U.S. regarding DUI; police and other law enforcement officials crack down hard on offenders. Even a first-time offender may face substantial fines, up to 93 days in jail, and 360 hours (45 days) of community service if convicted. This is why it is urgent that those accused contact our capable team of criminal defense lawyers immediately.

Michigan BAC (Blood Alcohol Content) Levels

In Michigan, an individual who is 21 or older is considered legally drunk if the individual's BAC is found to be 0.08 or higher.

Drivers who are younger than age 21 are considered legally drunk when the BAC is 0.02 or higher.

Individuals who operate commercial vehicles are considered legally drunk when the BAC is found to be 0.04 or higher. School bus drivers are considered commercial drivers under Michigan law.

It is important to note that you may also be arrested based on "observation evidence" which is not based on blood alcohol level. A police officer may arrest you if he/she feels your driving or behavior is erratic, your eyes are bloodshot, or based on your performance on field sobriety tests. All of this is basically circumstantial evidence.

Even if a breath or urine test reveals a BAC of 0.08 or higher, a prosecutor must still prove that the test was performed properly, is accurate, and results are reliable.

Description of Various Michigan Drunk Driving Charges

  • OUIL (Operating under the influence of intoxicating liquor). No blood or breath test is necessary to prove this theory. However, it must be proven by prosecutors that the consumption of alcohol substantially reduced your ability to operate a vehicle - and this must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.

  • OWVI (Operating while visibly impaired). You may be charged with this offense if you are impaired to the point that another person would notice your inability to safely operate a vehicle.

  • UBAL (Unlawful bodily alcohol level/content). If a prosecutor can establish that your breath or blood alcohol level was above the 0.08 legal limit, he/she may prove the UBAL theory.

  • OWI (Operating while intoxicated). Operating while intoxicated can be proven by the prosecutor through observation evidence (OUIL), or chemical evidence (UBAL), however he/she does not have to prove both in order to obtain a conviction for OWI.

Michigan Penalties for Drunk Driving

As mentioned earlier, the penalties for a drunk driving offense are severe, even for first-time offenders. The information below is simply a summary of the penalties, which may be affected by other factors. It is highly recommended that you speak with our Michigan drunk driving law firm to ensure you understand the penalties you are facing. Our attorneys can also inform you of any changes in the law.

First offense OUIL, UBAL, or OWVI: Whether you plead guilty or are convicted, the maximum sentence you will face includes up to $300 in fines for OWVI, or up to $500 for OUIL/UBAL. You may also be required to perform up to 360 hours of community service, and potentially spend up to 93 days in jail.

Second offense OUIL, UBAL, or OWVI: The penalties for a second offense are basically the same, other than jail time increases to up to one year, and fines range from $200 to $1,000.

Third offense OUIL, UBAL, or OWVI: If you are convicted for a third time on a DUI offense, fines increase up to $5,000; you may also be sentenced to between one and five years in jail.

A conviction for any DUI offense will result in suspension of your Michigan driver's license; the length of suspension depends on whether it is a first, second, or subsequent offense. It is also likely with a second or further offense that your license will be revoked. Our Michigan criminal defense law firm also focuses on drivers license reinstatement for those whose licenses have been suspended or revoked.

Contact Grabel & Associates Now

Michigan drunk driving laws are complex; regardless of the charge against you, it is important to obtain the legal guidance and support of a talented attorney who will work diligently to protect your legal rights and freedom. Without a capable lawyer, not only will you face potential jail time, fines, and other serious penalties, your career and reputation are at stake.

Our top priority is to help our clients avoid a conviction and the serious criminal penalties that go along with it. Contact our team of highly capable criminal defense attorneys now at 1-800-783-4448 for outstanding legal representation. We are available 24/7, so call today. Contact us online.