When you’re charged with operating a vehicle while intoxicated, or OWI, in Michigan, you can face very serious consequences even if it’s the first time you’ve ever been charged with any kind of criminal offense. Even a first offense for OWI is a misdemeanor in Michigan, and under some circumstances, OWI can be a felony. The possible consequences you may experience if you’re convicted can include:
- A jail or prison sentence
- Expensive fines
- Loss of your driver’s license
- Loss of use of your vehicle
- Loss of your job if you drive for work in any capacity
- Points on your driver’s license
- Increases in your car insurance premiums
- A permanent criminal record that cannot be expunged
Let one of the attorneys at the law firm of MUSSIN & SCANLAND, PLLC examine all of the facts of the case and determine if you should enter a plea or if the matter must be tried. Either way, an experienced lawyer at the law firm of MUSSIN & SCANLAND, PLLC will assist you in ensuring the police and prosecutor follow all the rules.
The lawyer you choose to represent you when you have been charged with a drunk driving offense will absolutely make a big difference!
A DUI arrest in Michigan is always an unexpected, humbling, and potentially humiliating situation, but the right lawyer can keep your Michigan arrest from overwhelming or even devastating your life. The right lawyer can also help you restore and even maintain your dignity.
Here Are Some Things that You Need to Know About Michigan’s Drunk Driving Laws
First-time offenders risk losing their license for 30 days, with an additional 150 days of restricted driving privileges. If a plea to impaired driving is agreed upon with the prosecutor, the driver's license is not suspended at all, but it is restricted for 90 days. This is a "carrot and stick" approach used by the State of Michigan to convince first-time offenders to plead guilty to impaired, which qualifies as a drunk driving conviction. If a motorist receives a suspension for a drunk driving conviction, a reinstatement fee is required, but there are no difficult steps to reinstating driving privileges.
Breath and Blood Test Refusals
If a driver refuses to take a Datamaster breath test (not the PBT, but the breath test at the police station) or a request to submit to blood or urine testing, the driver has 14 days to challenge an automatic suspension that lasts for one year. A second refusal within seven years results in a two-year suspension. If a driver loses at the "implied consent" hearing, as it is known, a hardship appeal may be filed in the circuit court to permit restricted driving privileges.
Repeat Offenders and License Revocation
Repeat offenders face license revocation upon conviction. Two drunk driving convictions within seven years results in a one-year revocation, and a second revocation results in a five-year revocation. The courts are no longer permitted to grant restricted licenses based upon any personal hardship that might be suffered in these cases. A person whose license is revoked must request reinstatement through the DLAD (Driver's License Appeal Division) after they have reached their eligibility date.
Drivers Responsibility Fees
In addition to the changes to Michigan's drunk driving laws, the Michigan Legislature passed another statute known as the "Driver Responsibility Program" Act. The new "driver responsibility program" act, which was passed along with the new drunk driving laws, provides additional fines to drunk drivers through the Secretary of State.
Although the statute does not solely target drivers convicted of drunk driving, it targets primarily those motorists. The new law assigns a $1,000.00 fine for two years to every person convicted of OWI and a $500.00 fine for two years to every person convicted of OWVI.
How Your Drunk Driving Case Will Be Evaluated
Once you've retained a lawyer, the lawyer will begin evaluating your case and preparing your defense by assessing and comparing the arresting officer's description of the offense with the videotape of the roadside (if any). Next, a comparison will be made of the above-mentioned items with the principles and concepts taught by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to determine if the officer complied with these standards during the investigation of your case.
The evaluation will include a determination as to whether or not the Standardized Field Sobriety Tests (SFST's) were administered by the officer as part of the pre-arrest screening, and if so, then whether or not they were administered in strict adherence to NHTSA's standardized protocol. The ultimate goal of this assessment is to help show at trial that the arresting officer's proposed testimony is not reliable.
Overview of The Standardized Field Sobriety Test Program
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration(NHTSA) has developed standardized procedures for the administration of the three Field Sobriety Tests (FST’s) which NHTSA considers the most reliable. These standardized FSTs (SFSTs) are taught to and used by police officers across the country. The SFSTs are designed to be used by police officers to establish probable cause to arrest individuals who are under suspicion of driving while intoxicated and to support the administration of a breathalyzer test that measures more directly a person's blood alcohol content (BAC). As direct, independent evidence of intoxication, however, SFSTs are extremely unreliable and have an immense margin of error. Furthermore, individual officers often administer the tests differently or under non-ideal testing circumstances, further reducing their reliability.
The NHTSA police officer training course separates the typical DUI investigation into three "phases". These are (1) Vehicle in Motion, (2) Personal or Face-to-Face Contact, and; (3) Pre-Arrest Screening. The SFST's are administered during phase three as part of the pre-arrest screening and include only the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN), the Walk-and-Turn (WAT), and the One-Leg Stand (OLS). If any other field tasks were administered in your case, or if these three tests were not given together, then the officer did not follow the NHTSA protocol.
The important thing to remember if you have been charged with an OUI/OWI/DUI offense is DO NOT WAIT to contact us to protect your rights!