Free Online Legal Resources
You will be charged with a OWI in Michigan if you operate a vehicle with a BAC of 0.08 or greater. To be guilty of this offense, absolutely no impairment of any of your physical abilities is necessary. In addition, you will be charged with OWI if you drive with drugs in your system or with a combination of drugs and alcohol, no matter what the amounts of those substances may be, where your physical abilities have become impaired to a certain degree. It does not matter if the drugs are legal, over the counter medications like antihistamines, nor does it matter if you have a prescription to take the drugs. If you are impaired as a result of taking them, then you are guilty of OWI.
Yes. If you are arrested for drunk or drugged driving, you are required to take a chemical test to determine your bodily alcohol content (BAC) or the presence of drugs in your body. Under Michigan's Implied Consent law, all drivers are considered to have given their consent to this test.
No. The stop must be justified by probable cause or a reasonable suspicion that criminal activity was afoot. Usually, the officer will base the stop on a violation of the traffic code, such as speeding or weaving in your lane. They can also stop you for not wearing a seat belt or for having illegally tinted windows.
No. The statute governing expungement in Michigan specifically precludes a person from even seeking to have a conviction for a "traffic offense" (including drunk driving) set aside. The statute also precludes a Judge from setting aside such a conviction.
All alcohol related traffic offenses are crimes, and are classified as either misdemeanors or felonies. Thus a drunk driving conviction will remain on your record for life. An important distinction however is regarding the treatment of this type of conviction by your automobile insurance company. Most insurance companies will stop considering drunk driving convictions in accessing auto insurance rates after a period of years. Because there's no hard and fast rule on this, it's best to check with your insurance company to learn what their specific policy is in for drunk driving offenses.
Unlike the chemical test where refusal to submit may have serious consequences, you are not legally required to take any FSTs. The reality is that officers have usually made up their minds to arrest when they give the FSTs; the tests are simply additional evidence which the suspect inevitably "fails." Thus, in most cases a polite refusal may be appropriate.
You are not required to answer potentially incriminating questions. A polite "I would like to speak with an attorney before I answer any questions" is a good reply. On the other hand, saying that you have one or two beers is not incriminating: it is not sufficient to cause intoxication and it may explain the odor of alcohol on the breath.
A person arrested for drunk driving in Michigan can be charged with 2 different types of offenses. 1) Operating While Visibly Impaired (OWVI) means that because of alcohol or other drugs, your ability to operate a motor vehicle was visibly impaired. 2) Operating While Intoxicated (OWI) includes 3 types of violations:
The officer will ask you to get out of the car and will instruct you to perform a series of "field sobriety tests." These are standard physical ability measures and they include: Reciting the alphabet from A to Z, and counting backwards; Walking heel to toe along a straight line; Standing on one foot for a few seconds; In addition to these tests, some officers typically have certain field sobriety testing devices which they use. One such device is a breath meter (PBT) which you blow into, another is a light to shine in your eyes in order to test your pupil reaction. It is very important that if you suffer from any chronic physical problems, such as difficulty with your balance, problems walking or with your legs or feet, or problems with your lungs or eyes that you inform the officer of these things before you go through the field sobriety tests.
Second Offense within 7 years
If you are stopped by a law enforcement officer who believes you may be driving while intoxicated or impaired, you may be asked to take a Preliminary Breath Test (PBT) to determine whether alcohol was involved. If you refuse to take the PBT, you may be charged with a civil infraction, which carries a fine up to $150 plus court costs. A person under age 21 who refuses to take the PBT will have 2 points added to his or her driving record. Whether you take the PBT or not, you still must take the evidentiary test required by the implied consent law (see below).
Refusing to take this test has driver's license consequences that are separate from those that result from any conviction that flows from the traffic stop. You may request an administrative hearing regarding the alleged refusal. At the hearing, the law enforcement officer would have to prove certain things before the statutory consequences would apply.
If you do not request the hearing, or if the officer proves his or her case at the hearing, the following will happen:
If you refuse to take the test, or if the test shows that your BAC is 0.08 or higher, the law enforcement officer will destroy your driver license, and will issue a paper permit to you. You may drive on the paper permit until your criminal case is resolved in court.
You will probably be asked to take a preliminary breath test (PBT). You should be told that the only penalty if you refuse the PBT is a $100 fine. If you fail either test you will be told that you are under arrest for driving under the influence. You will be handcuffed, searched for weapons, placed in the back of the officer's car and taken to a jail for further tests. At the jail you will also be booked and held there until you post bail or until a judge releases you on your own recognizance without bail. Once again, as upsetting and as stressful as being arrested is, it is essential that you continue to act courteously and cooperatively with the officer. Do not argue, threaten or become belligerent in any way. This type of behavior will only make the experience even more unpleasant for you.
This article is intended to be helpful and informative. But even common legal matters can become complex and stressful. A qualified drunk driving lawyer can address your particular legal needs, explain the law, and represent you in court. Take the first step now and contact a local drunk driving attorney to discuss your specific legal situation.