Getting pulled over for suspected drunk driving in Michigan can be intimidating and frightening. It is important to take drunk driving charges seriously, even if it is your first offense. A conviction for drunk driving could result in a host of penalties, as well as a criminal record. At Michigan Defense Law, our Michigan DUI lawyers can evaluate your situation to determine whether any of your rights were violated. We work hard to build strong defenses for clients facing first-time DUI charges.First-Time DUI
Under MCL 257.625, whether you are licensed or not, you should not operate your vehicle on a public highway or other place accessible to motor vehicles while you are intoxicated or while you are visibly impaired. Operating a vehicle while intoxicated can mean that you are under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or a combination of these. You may be found to have been operating a vehicle while intoxicated if you have a bodily alcohol content of at least .08 g for each 100 mL of blood, for each 210 mL of breath, or for each 67 mL of urine.
Operating a vehicle while visibly impaired by alcohol or drugs is a separate offense from operating while intoxicated. It requires the prosecution to prove only that you showed visible signs of impairment in the operation of your vehicle because you consumed alcohol or drugs. There is no minimum blood alcohol level to be convicted of operating while visibly impaired. The prosecutor would need to prove you’re your ability to drive was impaired by the consumption of alcohol or drugs or a combination of them. Also, you can be charged with operating a vehicle while intoxicated if you have any amount of cocaine or a Schedule I controlled substance in your body. Impairment is irrelevant to that situation.Sentencing for a First-Time DUI Offense
First-time offenders face slightly milder penalties than second- and third-time offenders. However, having a first offense on your record can adversely affect your sentencing for any later charges, and it is wise to defend the first offense aggressively. For a first offense, you could face a maximum of 93 days in jail, fines of $100-$500, 360 hours of community service, and the possibility that you are required to install an ignition interlock device. For a first-time offense of operating while visibly impaired, you could face a maximum of 93 days in jail, a maximum fine of $300, 360 hours of community service, and possibly vehicle immobilization.
Even for a first-time offense, driving under the influence or operating while visibly impaired carries enhanced penalties when there were passengers who were under 16 years old. This can often result in a charge of child endangerment. Obviously, you will also face significantly more severe penalties if someone is injured or killed in a first-time drunk driving offense.Defenses
Although it can be stressful to be charged with drunk driving, you should not assume that your case is hopeless. There are many different defenses that your attorney may be able to raise on your behalf. For example, if you were pulled over without an officer’s reasonable suspicion that you were impaired or that another crime was being perpetrated, we may be able to bring a motion to suppress any evidence obtained during the illegal stop. Similarly, if you were arrested without probable cause, we may be able to challenge evidence gathered after the arrest, such as the results of chemical testing. In some cases, we may be able to negotiate a plea to a lower charge, while in other cases, it may be appropriate to go to trial. For some, simply avoiding jail is a success.Consult a Knowledgeable DUI Lawyer in Michigan
If you are concerned about a first-time DUI charge, you should consult our knowledgeable attorneys. It is wise to fight first-time DUI charges aggressively so that you do not have a criminal record or incur greater penalties later. Michigan Defense Law represents people in Oakland, Wayne, Macomb, and Washtenaw Counties. Call us at (248) 451-2200 or complete our online form.