OWI Attorneys in Genesee County, MI

Genesee County is one of the biggest communities in the state, with some 430,000 people, many of those residing in the county seat of Flint. The community is policed by dozens of agencies, including the Michigan State Police, Genesee County Sheriff’s Office, Flint Police Department and many other agencies of varying sizes within the county.

A recent annual Michigan Drunk Driving Audit revealed nearly 1,100 people were arrested in Genesee County for OWI (operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated) and related offenses. That same report indicated approximately 6.5 percent of all injury crashes in Genesee County involved a driver who was impaired, as did 36 percent of all fatal crashes.

Statewide, the Michigan Office of Highway Safety Planning reports somewhere between 240 and 290 deadly crashes yearly involving drivers or motorcycle operators who have a bodily-alcohol concentration that meets or exceeds 0.08.

OWI defense attorneys at Grabel & Associates have been successfully defending those arrested for OWI in Genesee County for many years. We recognize that whether you are charged with a misdemeanor or felony, you are up against a system that offers you few advantages. Prosecutors in this county are tough and skilled. Beating a DUI charge in Flint and throughout the county requires an attorney with extensive experience, resources and savvy – both in pre-trial negotiations and in the courtroom. You should never hurry settle your case when it’s not in your best interest, no matter what penalties prosecutors are hanging over your head. Swift resolution of your case is a priority, but so too is ensuring your rights are protected and the negative impact to your life is minimized.

We can help you formulate an effective defense strategy in your OWI case, ensuring you can soon turn the page on this trying chapter.

Cost of a DUI in Genesee County

For many facing drunk driving charges in Michigan, a major concern is the cost. It is true a conviction can cost you dearly. Aside from shelling out thousands in court costs and fines, you will almost certainly see a dramatic rise in your auto insurance rates. There are also installation and maintenance fees associated with court-ordered devices such as alcohol monitoring bracelets or ignition interlock. This is on top of the lost work you will grapple with if a jail or prison stint causes you to miss days at work or be fired. This is especially true if your job requires you to drive.

The Michigan Office of Highway Safety Planning breaks down the costs of an average OWI conviction like this:

  • Arrest - $150 to $350
  • Bail - $150 to $2,000
  • Towing and Impound - $100 to $200
  • Attorney Fees - $500 to $5,000
  • Court Fees - $700 to $2,200
  • Tether Fees (monthly) - $200
  • Alcohol Evaluation and Testing (monthly) - $10 to $300
  • Ignition Interlock (installation) - $50 to $200
  • Ignition Interlock (monthly) - $50 to $100
  • Alcohol Education and Treatment - $350 to $1,000
  • Driver Responsibility Fees (annually for two years) - $1,000
  • License Reinstatement - $125
  • Insurance Increase (annually) -$1,500+
  • Total: $15,680 (average)

All this assumes you were not involved in a crash with injuries or fatalities, and that your BAC was less than 0.17. Felony OWI convictions carry fines of between $2,500 and $10,000, per MCL 257.625, Michigan’s OWI law. Potential fines also increase depending on how many prior OWI convictions you have on your record.

To put the costs into perspective, the OHSP broke down what you could purchase with that amount of money:

  • 1 70-inch LED HDTV
  • 2 home gyms
  • 3 laptop computers
  • 4 PlayStation 3s
  • 5 iPod Touches
  • 6 e-readers
  • 7 gas grills
  • 8 satellite radio car stereo systems
  • 9 3D Blu-Ray players
  • 10 cordless drills
  • 11 video games
  • 12 DVDs

Because drunk driving convictions are so expensive, it’s important to do all you can to avoid one. At the very least, your Genesee OWI defense attorney may be able to help you plead down the charges to one that carries lower fines and penalties.

Most OWI cases in this region are handled within the 67th District Court of Genesee County, with 11 elected judges, four appointed magistrates, nine probation officers and a staff of 50 workers. The court is responsible for:

  • Holding misdemeanor and felony arraignments;
  • Issuing arrest and search warrants;
  • Setting bail and accepting bonds;
  • Presiding over preliminary examinations for felony offenses.

What is a Preliminary Examination in Genesee Felony OWI?

If you are charged with a felony OWI – either because you have two or more prior convictions or because you were involved in a crash that resulted in serious injury or death – you will be subject to a preliminary examination in the district court.

A preliminary examination is a probable cause hearing wherein the district court judge will consider witnesses and evidence presented by prosecutors. The burden of proof is on prosecutors to show a felony was committed and there is probable cause the accused is the guilty party. The right to a preliminary examination is outlined in MCR 6.110.

Defendant has the right to waive the preliminary examination with the prosecutor’s consent, but it’s the only hearing an OWI defendant has to confront and cross-examine witnesses before the case is bound over to the circuit court for trial. Your attorney will have the chance to request suppression of key evidence against you, and even file a motion to dismiss the case entirely. It is vital that defendants be present at the preliminary examination and represented by a qualified, experienced defense lawyer.

While some concern themselves with the cost of a private defense attorney, it is important to give this fight your all when you consider that MCL 257.625 allows for up to 20 years in prison if one is convicted of an OWI fatality with a BAC of 0.17 or more. Further, a report from the Pew Charitable Trusts reveals Michigan leads the country in average time served by inmates (4.3 years), which is 48 percent higher than the national average of 2.9 years. Michigan’s “tough-on-crime” laws enacted in the late 1990s resulted 79 percent longer prison sentences from 1990 to 2012.

Penalties in Genesee County OWI

The penalties you face when convicted of OWI will depend largely on several factors, including:

  • Number of prior offenses and criminal history;
  • Severity of offense (whether it resulted in injuries or death);
  • Defendant’s blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) at the time of arrest (anything 0.17 or higher results in stiffer punishment);
  • Other aggravating factors (i.e., children in the car, fled police, etc.).

In general, if you are convicted on a charge of Operating While Visibly Impaired (OWVI) – an offense that does require a BAC presumption of 0.08 or higher – you will be facing a misdemeanor charge that carries maximum penalties of:

  • 93 days in jail;
  • $300 fine (plus court costs);
  • 360 hours of community service;
  • 90 days restricted driver’s license;
  • 4 points on driver’s license;
  • $500 driver responsibility fee for two consecutive years.

If, however, you are convicted of Operating While Intoxicated (OWI) – an offense that requires proof one’s BAC was 0.08 or higher – it will still be a misdemeanor, but with increased maximum penalties, including:

  • 93 days in jail;
  • Fine between $100 and $500 (plus court costs);
  • 360 hours community service;
  • 30 days suspended driver’s license;
  • 150 days restricted driver’s license;
  • 6 points on license;
  • Possible ignition interlock;
  • $1,000 driver responsibility fee for two years.

Now, if you had a BAC that met or exceeded 0.17 (the so-called “Super Drunk” level) and it’s your first offense and nobody was hurt, you will still face a misdemeanor, but maximum penalties are enhanced to:

  • 180 days in jail;
  • Fine between $200 and $700;
  • 360 hours community service;
  • 45-day license suspension;
  • 320 days restricted driver’s license with ignition interlock;
  • 6 points on driver’s license;
  • 1-year mandatory alcohol treatment;
  • $1,000 driver responsibility fee for two years.

Second offenses and felony offenses carry even more serious penalties. Prosecutors are not inclined to go easy on even first-time offenders.

Remember that an arrest is not a conviction, and many Michigan DUI cases are based on “bad facts” that can be successfully challenged in court. Your best chance at beating an OWI charge in Genesee County is to hire a skilled criminal defense attorney with proven experience.

For a free consultation contact us online.