OWI Attorneys Flint, MI
If you are arrested for DUI in Flint, Michigan, your case will likely be handled within the 67th District Court of Genesee County. Recently merged with the now-defunct 68th District, the court oversees matters including parking citations, traffic violations, criminal misdemeanors and preliminary examinations of federal cases. Most Flint DUI arrests are classified as misdemeanor offenses.
At Grabel & Associates, our experienced drunk driving defense lawyers know the advantage our clients derive working with a legal team closely familiar with the persons and policies of the 67th district court.
Just northwest of Detroit, Flint is the fourth-largest city in Michigan, and has unfortunately been hard hit by economic depression and high crime rates. This has resulted in backlogged courts. Public defenders are stretched thin. No matter how qualified and skilled, they are often unable to dedicate the time necessary to aggressively defend your DUI case.
While no attorney can guarantee a certain outcome at the outset (be wary of any who do), a good DUI defense lawyer can quickly identify certain relevant factors and effective legal arguments specific to your case. The goal is to mitigate the impact to your life – significantly, if possible. That could mean suppression of key evidence against you. It could lead to a reduction in charges. It could take the form of a favorable plea deal. It might even mean outright dismissal of the charges, or at least the most serious. All of this can happen long before a case goes to trial. In fact, most Flint impaired driving cases do NOT go to trial. That’s why the pre-trial research and negotiation is so critically important. Our firm has the resources, the skill and the local-level knowledge in Flint to give our clients a solid shot at the best possible outcome.
We offer a free consultation to those arrested for DUI in Genesee County, and are committed to ensuring our clients’ rights and best interests are protected.
OWI vs. DUI
Technically speaking, there is no such thing as a “DUI” in Michigan. That gets confusing for some because “DUI” is the term most people quickly recognize.
The term “DUI” is an acronym for “driving under the influence” of alcohol and/ or drugs. In Michigan, MCL 257.625 outlaws OWI, which is an acronym for “operating while intoxicated.” To prove a violation of this provision, the law requires prosecutors present evidence establishing beyond a reasonable doubt that:
- Defendant was under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs;
- Defendant was had a bodily-alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 grams or more per 100 milliliters of blood, per 210 liters of breath or per 67 milliliters of urine;
- Defendant had a BAC of 0.17 (“super drunk OWI,” which carries stiffer penalties).
These penalties apply to anyone, licensed or not, who is operating a vehicle on a highway or any other place that’s open to the public or generally accessible to motor vehicles. This can include those areas designated for vehicle parking.
Because Michigan lawmakers opted for the word “operate” rather than “drive,” the proper legal term is OWI, not DUI. We recognize, though, many people still refer to it as a “DUI” out of habit.
MCL 257.35a defines “to operate” or “operating” as either being in actual physical control of the vehicle in question (regardless of whether defendant is licensed) OR causing a motor vehicle to move under its own power in automatic mode on a public road, even if the person isn’t physically present in the vehicle at the time.
Michigan Code of Laws in 1949 defined “driver” as every person who drives or is in actual physical control of the motor vehicle. Lawmakers later broadened that definition with the use of the word, “operate,” which involves more than strictly sitting behind the wheel and controlling a vehicle in motion.
One could similarly be charged with “operating while visibly impaired.” Proving this charge often means relying heavily on circumstantial evidence and officer observations. There is also the commonly-charged with “operating under the influence of liquor,” or OUIL. Both OUIL and OVI offenses in Michigan do not require proof of a per se (statutory) violation with a BAC of 0.08 or higher. Instead, motorists who have any alcohol in their system may face criminal charges if prosecutors can present sufficient evidence that your ability to safely drive was impaired by alcohol.
And when it comes to drugs, law enforcement sometimes needn’t even gather any evidence you were impaired. Michigan’s statute pertaining to “operating with the presence of drugs” – OWPD – requires only you proof that you were:
- Operating a motor vehicle;
- With any amount of a Schedule 1 substance or cocaine in your body.
Defenses in these cases (aside from challenging the lawfulness of officers’ actions in the stop, search and seizure under the Fourth Amendment) would involve questioning the validity of the laboratory tests indicating a positive result and whether defendant was in fact “operating” a vehicle, as defined by statute.
Each state defines its offenses in slightly different terms, but DUI and OWI are essentially the same crime. Michigan courts – particularly the 67th District – have a reputation for being tough on suspected OWI offenders. Knowing the intricacies of Michigan statutes and case law makes a huge difference in formulating an effective defense and beating your Flint OWI charges.
We will carefully review your arrest report for inconsistencies, consult with experts in the field, request a sentence reduction and, if necessary, appeal your conviction.
Penalties for OWI in Flint, MI
While we are defense lawyers, we must be fair: States have a legitimate interest in preventing drunk driving crashes and deaths. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) reports nearly 3,00 people a year are killed in Michigan drunk driving crashes. Further, about 2 percent of drivers readily admit to drinking too much before getting behind the wheel.
That said, the pendulum has swung so far in the opposing direction when it comes to OWI penalties, particularly involving first-time offenders. As concluded in a decades-long study by the National Research Council, lengthy jail and prison sentences are ineffective in deterring crime, and minimum mandatory sentences in particular cost far more than they’re worth.
A first-time OWI arrest in Flint will have you facing:
- Maximum 93 days jailtime;
- Fine between $100 and $500 (not including court costs);
- Maximum 360 hours community service;
- 30 days suspended driver’s license;
- 150 days restricted driver’s license;
- Automatic 6 points on your license;
- 1 year of mandatory alcohol treatment;
- Potential interlock ignition requirement;
- $1,000 driver responsibility fine for two straight years.
If it’s your first offense and you had a BAC of 0.17 or higher, you’re in for even worse. Penalties include:
- Maximum 180 days in jail;
- Fine between $200 and $700;
- 45-day license suspension;
- 320 days restricted driver’s license;
- 6 points on your license;
- 1 year mandatory alcohol treatment;
- $1,000 driver responsibility fine for two years.
More serious penalties – including minimum mandatory prison terms – may follow for offenses involving crashes that result in serious injury or death.
Our best Flint criminal defense lawyers can help you navigate the confusion of the system and ensure your rights are protected.
For a free consultation contact us online.