DUI Laws for Drivers Under 21

Picture of Paul J. Tafelski

DUI Laws for Drivers Under 21 - Top Rated Oakland County DUI Attorney

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 legal BAC limits for drivers under 21 are far stricter. 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 collateral consequences 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. It is critical to seek the help of a skilled Michigan DUI lawyer to help you navigate the legal system and potentially minimize the consequences of your charges.

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.

Michigan Legal Alcohol Limit

If you are charged with OWI (operating while intoxicated) in Michigan, it is essential to understand the state’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limits to avoid the serious legal and financial consequences of an OWI conviction. Although the legal limit for drunk driving is .08, it is possible to be convicted of drunk driving even if your BAC is lower than this threshold. 

BAC Limit for Minors

For minors, Michigan has a zero-tolerance policy for underage drinking and driving. If you’re under 21 and caught driving with a BAC of .02% or higher, you may be charged with drunk driving.

BAC Limit for CDL Holders

Commercial drivers with a Commercial Drivers License (CDL) have a BAC limit of 0.04, regardless of the circumstances. CDL holders should be aware that an OWI conviction in a non-commercial vehicle could affect their commercial driving privileges.


If your BAC is .17 or higher, you may be charged with a high BAC OWI under Michigan law, even for a first offense. This may lead to enhanced penalties such as a one-year driver’s license suspension, up to 180 days in jail, and the installation of an ignition interlock device in your vehicle.

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:

  • Request a bond reduction if you are still incarcerated
  • Review all of the evidence the prosecution has against you
  • Review the in-dash video if one was present
  • Investigate whether any tests administered were conducted properly
  • Examine any equipment used in the testing procedures to ensure it was calibrated correctly
  • Look for anything that may have skewed the test results
  • Question any witnesses, including the law enforcement officer that made the arrest.

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. Contact us at (248) 451-2200 to schedule a free consultation.

Table of Contents

Call Now Button