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  • Writer's pictureMark Caldwell

Understanding DUI and OWI Offenses in Michigan: Penalties and Sanctions Explained

Updated: Dec 22, 2023

Everything you should know when charged with a DUI or OWI offense


Facing a DUI or OWI charge can have serious consequences, both legally and personally. Being informed about the penalties and sanctions associated with each offense is crucial for anyone who has been charged with a drunk driving offense.


In this post, we will explain the court sanctions and penalties that are commonly associated with each type of DUI and OWI offense in Michigan. Whether you are facing an OWI first offense, impaired driving, high BAC, second offense, or third offense, this guide will provide you with the necessary information to make informed decisions about how to proceed with your case.


Police car in rearview mirror, getting pulled over.

OWI First Offense


If you are facing an OWI first offense charge in Michigan you could be facing:

  • up to 93 days in jail

  • fines up to $500

  • community service

  • license suspension up to 180 days

  • mandatory attendance at an alcohol treatment program

Additionally, you may be required to install an Ignition Interlock Device (IID) in your car, which will test your blood alcohol content (BAC) before allowing you to start your vehicle.


One piece of good news is that in some cases, first-time offenders may be eligible for a "Diversion Program" in Kent County, where they can avoid conviction if they successfully complete a rehabilitation program. As an expert in both criminal record expungement and deferment of criminal charges, this is another great reason why you should contact Mark Caldwell as he will identify the opportunities and resources that can help you protect your rights in the months and even years after your case has been settled.


Impaired Driving Offense


An impaired driving offense in Michigan occurs when a person operates a vehicle while visibly impaired by alcohol or drugs, but their BAC is under the legal limit. If you are facing an impaired driving charge, you could be facing:

  • up to 93 days in jail

  • fines up to $300

  • community service.

Additionally, your license will be suspended for 90 days, and you may be required to attend an alcohol treatment program.


Fingerprinting & Handcuffs

OWI High BAC (.17% or over)


If your BAC is .17% or over, you are facing an OWI high BAC charge in Michigan. This carries more severe potential penalties such as:

  • up to 180 days in jail

  • fines up to $700

  • community service

  • license suspension up to one year

  • mandatory attendance at an alcohol treatment program

You may also be required to have an IID installed in your vehicle.


OWI Second Offense


If you are facing an OWI second offense charge in Michigan, the penalties are significantly more severe. You could be facing:

  • up to one year in jail

  • fines up to $1,000

  • community service

  • license suspension up to five years

  • mandatory attendance at an alcohol treatment program.


As with the OWI first offenses, it’s also much more common that you may be required to have an IID installed in your vehicle for a minimum of one year.


OWI Third Offense


If you are facing an OWI third offense charge the length and costs of penalties become even more severe as the courts do not look kindly upon repeat offenders. You could be facing:

  • up to five years in prison

  • fines up to $5,000

  • community service

  • license revocation up to five years

  • mandatory attendance at an alcohol treatment program

  • the possibility of forfeiture of your vehicle

  • potentially required to have an IID installed in your vehicle for a at least one year


Minor being pulled over by police officer

DUI Penalties for Minors


If you are under the age of 21 and facing a DUI/OWI charge in Michigan, the penalties can be much more severe since you’re in a position where you’re now breaking two categories of charges: drunk driving and Minor in Possession (MIP.)


For a first offense, you could be facing:

  • a license suspension of up to 360 days

  • community service

  • fines up to $250

  • mandatory attendance at an alcohol treatment program


For a second offense, you could be facing:

  • up to 60 days in jail

  • license suspension up to one year

  • fines up to $500

  • community service

  • mandatory attendance at an alcohol treatment program.


Facing a DUI/OWI charge in Michigan can be scary and overwhelming, but it is important to remember that you do not have to face it alone. Hiring an experienced attorney who is well-versed in Michigan's drunk driving laws can help you navigate the legal system and protect your rights. Hopefully, this blog post has provided you with the information you need to make informed decisions about your case. Remember, understanding the penalties and sanctions associated with different types of DUI/OWI offenses is the first step in protecting your future.


Call Mark Caldwell today at (616) 915-6576 or email at mark@markmcaldwell.com

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