Under 21 and charged with a drunk driving offense in Michigan?
Getting pulled over and charged with a DUI or OWI is an overwhelming, embarrassing, and scary experience for anyone. However, for those under the age of 21 who have been caught drinking and driving, it can be even more daunting. The legal system can be intimidating, and finding the right defense can seem impossible.
Be reassured, we’re here to help! In this article we go over what to do immediately after being pulled over, what to do if you get arrested, the potential penalties for an underage drunk driving charge and, most importantly, the steps you should immediately take to best protect your future.
What Happens When You're Pulled Over?
If you're pulled over by law enforcement, you are under no obligation to answer any questions beyond giving your name, identification, and registration. It is best to remain polite and calm, but you should never admit to drinking or provide any other information that could incriminate you such as how much you've had to drink or where you're coming from. Keep in mind that police officers are trained to ask leading questions and may try to apply pressure to get you to confess to something. It is essential to remember that you have the right to remain silent, and it is in your best interest to do so.
That said, remember that you should always be respectful of the police officer. It’s in your best interest to calmly comply with any orders or requests from the officer, such as producing a driver's license, registration, and proof of insurance, and performing a field sobriety test.
What happens after being arrested?
Once arrested, you will be taken to the police station, fingerprinted, and booked. If it is your first time being arrested for a DUI/OWI, you may still be released on bond or recognizance. However, if there have been past offenses, or depending on the circumstances of the current arrest, you may be required to spend some time in jail before being granted bail.
When arrested under suspicion of DUI/OWI, you still have several fundamental rights. You can remain silent and refuse to answer any questions from the law enforcement officer without an attorney present. Additionally, you have the right to an attorney, and it's essential to exercise this right immediately. Before questioning you, the officer must read you your Miranda rights, informing you of the right to remain silent and the right to legal representation.
What are the Potential Penalties for Drunk Driving Under the age of 21?
In the state of Michigan, anyone under the age of 21 caught operating a vehicle with any blood alcohol concentration (BAC) will face severe penalties, including license suspension, fines, community service, and possible jail time. Furthermore, if you're under 21 and have a BAC of over 0.08%, it can lead to weapon charges, misdemeanor, or even felony charges, depending on the circumstances of the crime.
What to do next?
If you or someone you know is under 21 and has been charged with a DUI/OWI in Michigan, the BEST thing you can do to protect your future is to seek experienced legal counsel immediately. A qualified attorney can explain your rights, review the charges, and fight on your behalf in court. At Mark Caldwell, Attorney at Law, we explore every possible defense strategy, negotiate with the prosecution, and challenge the evidence against you.
Again, the most critical aspect of DUI/OWI defense is to act fast. Pleading guilty to DUI/OWI charges stays on your record forever, but with the help of an experienced DUI/OWI attorney that has insight into Michigan's specific statutes and law enforcement practices, you can often get good results, even in the most challenging of cases.
Getting charged with a DUI/OWI in Michigan under the age of 21 is a serious offense that can lead to severe consequences. However, by remaining calm, invoking your rights, and seeking qualified legal representation immediately, you can give yourself the best possible chance for a positive outcome. Always remember that you are innocent until proven guilty, and never give up hope.
Take the next step by scheduling your free consultation with West Michigan’s best DUI/OWI defense lawyer today. There is always a path forward and attorney Mark Caldwell is here to guide you to the most successful outcome.