In Michigan, a motorist can be charged with a number of offenses related to operating while intoxicated, or OWI, which is also referred to as DUI, or driving under the influence. If you are over the legal drinking age of 21, you can be charged with an OWI/DUI if your blood-alcohol level is above 0.08. What many people do not realize is that the blood-alcohol limit is significantly lower for a driver who is under the age of 21. In fact, you can be charged with the offense of OWI/DUI if your blood-alcohol level is above 0.02 if you are under the age of 21 at the time you are stopped.
The statute in Michigan is set forth at MCL 257.625. It sets forth that a person under 21 cannot operate a motor vehicle with any bodily alcohol content. It makes it a misdemeanor to drive the motor vehicle if the bodily alcohol content is between.02 and.08. This could be the equivalent of one beer in the right circumstances. An otherwise legal driver could be arrested and prosecuted for consuming almost any alcohol. The only exception is if the person can prove they consumed alcohol as part of a legitimate religious ceremony.
The penalties for this crime can be life-altering. If convicted, it counts as a first offense drunk driving on one’s lifetime record. That means a second arrest for OWI within 7 years will result in a revocation of driving privileges for a minimum of one year and up to one year in jail. A third offense in an entire lifetime is a felony punishable by up to 5 years in prison.
There are also significant fines and license suspension with this charge. Up to 360 hours (9 full-time work weeks) of community service can be ordered as well. The only good thing is that a first offense is not punishable by jail but can result in probation.
The penalties for a second zero tolerance conviction become more severe and can include up to 93 days of jail plus worse suspensions, fines, and punishment.
In addition, underage drinker/drivers often have underage passengers in their car. Having a passenger under 16 in the car when this crime is committed is also a separate misdemeanor punishable by up to 93 days in jail.
Of course, all of these type charges result in big increases of car insurance rates.
How Can A Michigan Under 21 OWI/DUI Defense Attorney Help?
Although the possible penalties for a conviction of Michigan’s under 21 DUI law may have you worried, it is important to remember that it is a long way from an arrest to a conviction. That is where Michigan criminal defense attorney Paul J. Tafelski can help. You have rights, the most important of which is the right to present a defense. There are a number of things that a DUI defense attorney may do to protect your rights and defend your case, including:
Our Michigan underage DUI defense attorney will diligently investigate your case to determine whether the prosecution has a solid case against you. If the decision is made to take your case to trial, then we will aggressively defend you at trial. If, on the other hand, a plea agreement appears to be in your best interest, then we will negotiate on your behalf to secure an agreement with terms that are acceptable to you.