Drunk Driving Penalties

Drunk Driving Penalties

Judge Hitting With A Gavel

A driver convicted of OWI, OWVI or Superdrunk in Michigan faces a number of different sanctions that can affect their driving privileges. Michigan has stringent driving sanctions for drunk drivers. It is possible to lose your driver’s license even before you are convicted of DUI if you refused a chemical test after your arrest. This is called an implied consent violation and the penalty is a one year suspension of your license and six points, even if you are innocent of the actual drunk driving. It’s important to hire a knowledgeable DUI defense attorney promptly to protect your driving privileges if you have been arrested for drunk driving or operating while intoxicated. For implied consent violations you forfeit your right to appeal the refusal if you do not make a request for a hearing within 14 days of the arrest. Timing is very important.

The Facts About DUI Driving Penalties

You need a car to function properly in Oakland County as well as the rest of metro Detroit. Losing your license makes things very difficult. But understand that after a DUI arrest in Michigan, your driving privileges are in jeopardy. If convicted, the penalties are not imposed by the judge. They occur administratively through the Secretary of State. This means the computer simply imposes the penalty that goes along with the crime you are convicted of. The judge in your case has no authority to give you a restricted license or any license no matter how much you need one. Fighting to keep your license is done during the case not after.

If you are arrested for DUI and refuse either the datamaster test or a blood draw if requested, your driver’s license will be administratively suspended for one year or longer. To fight this, you have to act quickly. You have 14 days from the date of your arrest to request a hearing with the Michigan Secretary of State’s Driver Assessment and Appeal Division. Our experienced Michigan criminal lawyer will know how to appeal the suspension on time and fight for you in an administrative hearing before DAAD. If that hearing is unsuccessful for any reason we can take immediate action to appeal your case to the circuit court either for cause or for hardship relief. In implied consent matters the only place it matters how much you need a license is in a circuit court appeal of your implied consent violation. We know how to navigate these complex areas.

If you fail to request the administrative hearing, or the Driver Assessment and Appeal Division upholds the suspension, you will lose your driving privileges for one year for a first violation of the implied consent law or two years for a second refusal within seven years. You need a knowledgeable DUI defense lawyer representing you because the DAAD is a very rigid and technically oriented agency that does not give any help to people who don’t know what they are doing.

Aside from breath test refusal cases, A first-time offender convicted of OWI / DUI in Michigan may have up to six points added to their driving record and have their driver’s license suspended for up to six months with the possibility of a restricted license after 30 days. Those convicted of first offense operating while visibly impaired will receive a 90-day restricted license. The restricted license allows people to drive to and from, and in the course of employment as well as to and from school and anything ordered by the Court. Last, it allows for reasonably necessary medical appointments. The judge cannot modify the terms of the restricted license. There are many situations not covered by the restricted license and therefore, people are limited. It is one of the reasons you need to fight to achieve the shortest restriction period possible in your case.

Repeat Offenders, Super Drunks, and DUI Driving Penalties

Repeat offenders need to be aware that drivers convicted of a second offense of OWI / DUI / DWI within seven years may maintain a restricted driver’s license ONLY if they are taking part in a state-approved Sobriety Court program. You may qualify for a restricted driver’s license to operate a vehicle equipped with an alcohol breath ignition interlock device and travel to work, school, or a court-ordered treatment program. If you cannot get into an approved Sobriety Court program your license will be automatically revoked for a minimum of one year. The process to get your license back is difficult and serious. You can review those issues in our Drivers License Restoration content on this website.

A conviction for drunk driving under Michigan’s recently enacted Super Drunk law includes harsh DUI driving penalties. Upon conviction, you will have your driving privileges suspended for one year with a hard suspension for 45 days, during which time no driving is allowed. After 45 days, you may be entitled to a restricted license only if you install an ignition interlock device in your vehicle for the remaining 10 ½ month period and pay for the device.

A driver must blow into the ignition interlock device upon starting the car; the vehicle will not start if the device detects alcohol and it will record the positive start-up failure and the Court will be notified. Operating or attempting to operate a vehicle equipped with an interlock device after consuming alcohol can result in a doubling of the DUI driving penalties, meaning an additional 45 days of no driving followed by 320 days of restricted driving. Superdrunk convctions also require mandatory counseling for a long period of time.

  • Ignition Interlock Devices
  • Vehicle Forfeiture & Immobilization

Michigan Blood Alcohol Content Limits

Michigan’s law prohibits a person from operating a vehicle with blood alcohol content (BAC) greater than 0.08%. Violation of this law can lead to criminal charges. The state of Michigan takes drunk driving seriously. Driving with a BAC higher than 0.17 could result in you being charged under the state’s Super Drunk Law and you may also be subject to additional penalties. If you are caught unable to operate a vehicle safely because of intoxication to drugs or alcohol, you can face a charge of OWI. Operating While Visibly Impaired is also another charge that can result in criminal punishment.


If you fail to obey traffic signals or swerve out of your lane, this could give police officers reason to pull you over which could lead to your arrest. At that point, you should contact a lawyer. Police must always have probable cause for them to stop you. The probable cause of your arrest will be established by a chemical test like a breathalyzer. You could face criminal charges if you fail to submit to a breathalyzer or blood test. This is why it is so important to speak with a lawyer right away to help you through the first stages of your case.

If you are facing OWI charges in Michigan, it is important to seek the help of an experienced DUI attorney right away. A skilled lawyer may be able to help you create a solid defense strategy and help you protect your rights and your freedom. Contact Michigan Defense Law today at (248) 451-2200 to schedule a free consultation regarding your case.

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