Drunk / Drugged Driving / DUI / OWI


Michigan, like most states, defines drunk driving as anyone operating a motor vehicle with a bodily alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08% or higher. It is also illegal to drive with drugs like marijuana, GHB, cocaine, or other Schedule 1 drugs in your system. The laws for Drugged Driving are Zero Tolerance laws, meaning, they do not have a certain threshold to reach as with Drunk Driving. This means a prosecutor will not have to prove your ability to drive was affected by the drugs, simply that you were driving with those drugs in your system. The same penalties for Drunk Driving will apply.

Michigan has a number of separate but related charges for drivers who are impaired due to something they have ingested. These charges arise when the BAC is below .08% or when the vehicle operator has a medical marijuana card or other medical prescription. In this situation, the prosecutor must prove that the ingestion of the drugs or alcohol caused a visible impairment in operating the motor vehicle.

What’s the difference between OWI, DUI, OWVI and OWPD?

Operating While Visibly Impaired (OWVI) means that because of alcohol or other drugs, your ability to operate a motor vehicle was visibly impaired.

Operating While Intoxicated (OWI) includes 3 types of violations:
Alcohol or drugs in your body substantially affected your ability to operate a motor vehicle safely.
A bodily alcohol content (BAC) at or above 0.08. This level can be determined through a chemical test.
High BAC means the alcohol level in your body was at or above 0.17. This level can be determined through a chemical test.

Operating With Any Presence of a Schedule 1 Drug or Cocaine (OWPD) means having even a small trace of these drugs in your body, even if you do not appear to be intoxicated or impaired. This can be determined through a chemical test.

Under Age 21 Operating With Any Bodily Alcohol Content (Zero Tolerance) means having a BAC of 0.02 to 0.07, or any presence of alcohol in your body other than alcohol that is consumed at a generally recognized religious ceremony and you are under the age of 21.


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What are the penalties for DUI / OWI

The most common penalties are:

First Offense:

Operating While Intoxicated (OWI) or Operating With Any Presence of a Schedule 1 Drug or Cocaine (OWPD)
$100 to $500 fine and one or more of the following:
Up to 93 days in jail.
Up to 360 hours of community service.
Driver’s license suspension for 30 days, followed by license restrictions for 150 days.
Possible vehicle immobilization.
Possible ignition interlock.
Six points added to driving record.
Driver Responsibility Fee:
$1,000 for OWI.
$500 for OWPD.

High Blood Alcohol Content (BAC of .17 or higher).
This is one of the operating while intoxicated crimes, but it has harsher consequences.
• One or more of the following:
Up to 180 days in jail.
$200 to $700 fine.
Up to 360 hours of community service.
• Driver’s license suspension for 1 year. Eligible for restrictions after 45 days of suspension if an ignition interlock device is installed on all vehicles the offender owns or intends to operate.
• Possible metal license plate confiscation if the offender operates a vehicle without a properly installed ignition interlock device.
• Mandatory vehicle immobilization if the offense is subsequently convicted for operating a vehicle without a properly installed ignition interlock device.
• 6 points added to the offender’s driving record.
• Driver Responsibility Fee of $1000.

Operating While Visibly Impaired
• Up to a $300 fine, and one or more of the following:
◦ Up to 93 days in jail.
◦ Up to 360 hours of community service.
• Driver’s license restrictions for 90 days (180 days if impaired by a controlled substance).
• Possible vehicle immobilization.
• 4 points added to the offender’s driving record.
• Driver Responsibility Fee of $500.

Second Offense within 7 Years (any combination):

Operating While Intoxicated
• $200 to $1000 fine, and one or more of the following:
◦ 5 days to 1 year in jail.
◦ 30 to 90 days of community service
• Driver’s license revocation and denial for a minimum of 1 year (minimum of 5 years if there was a prior revocation within 7 years).
• License plate confiscation.
• Vehicle immobilization for 90 to 180 days, unless the vehicle is forfeited.
• Possible vehicle forfeiture.
• 6 points added to the offender’s driving record.
• Driver Responsibility Fee of $1,000.

Third Offense Within Lifetime (any combination) is a Felony
Operating While Intoxicated
• $500 to $5,000 fine, and either of the following:
◦ 1 to 5 years imprisonment
◦ Probation, with 30 days to 1 year in jail.
• 60 to 180 days community service.
• Driver’s license revocation and denial if there are 2 convictions within 7 years or 3 convictions within 10 years. The minimum period of revocation and denial is 1 year (minimum of 5 years if there was a prior revocation within 7 years).
• License plate confiscation.
• Vehicle immobilization for 1 to 3 years, unless the vehicle is forfeited.
• Possible vehicle forfeiture.
• Vehicle registration denial.
• 6 points added to the offender’s driving record.
• Driver Responsibility Fee of $1,000.


The West Michigan Defense Team generally handles over 100 drunk driving cases per year. As a result, there is not an issue we have not dealt with before. Rest assured, we know the law in this area and will provide the representation and guidance you need if charged with a drunk driving offense.

Each Drunk Driving case begins with a comprehensive consultation, at which time your West Michigan Defense Team attorney will go over the details leading up to, during and after your arrest. There are many protocols the police must follow beginning with the initial traffic stop. Once your vehicle is stopped and contact is made by the police, they still have many steps to properly follow before making an arrest. If any of these subsequent tests are instructed incorrectly, you may have a valid reason to challenge your arrest.

Attorneys at the West Michigan Defense Team have training in Standardized Field Sobriety Testing from NHTSA, the same course the police are required to pass, and administering the Datamaster breath analysis. We have successfully defended individuals by using this training to file motions to suppress the stop or challenge other issues when the police try to take short cuts.

However, not all cases will have challengeable issues. In those situations, your West Michigan Defense Team attorney will fight for the best possible resolution to your case. In many instances, we have saved our clients jail time, money, additional license sanctions and more by fighting until the end.

Contact WMDT


West Michigan Defense Team
77 Monroe Center St, NW,
Suite 700
Grand Rapids, MI 49503


(616) 456-5457


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