Most DUIs are charged as misdemeanors. Even though felonies are more serious, you should take misdemeanor charges seriously. A conviction can result in increased penalties for a subsequent offense. If you are charged with misdemeanor DUI, you should discuss your situation with the experienced attorneys at Michigan Defense Law. You may feel like the prosecution has a strong case because you failed field sobriety tests or there are chemical test results, but you should talk to a Michigan misdemeanor DUI lawyer who can build the strongest available defense strategy rather than assuming that a conviction is forthcoming.
Even in situations where you may feel your case is hopeless, it is important to go to court with a strategy to minimize your damage. Often, defendants charged with a first offense OWI simply talk to a friend who has been through the process and assumes they know what they are talking about. The problem with that approach is every Judge has a unique power and unique philosophies about drunk driving cases. Some Judges give jail time to first offenders, some give long and difficult probations. Some are more understanding. Having an experienced lawyer who knows what your particular judge cares about and devises a strategy to get you the best result possible can be the difference between successfully completing probation and violating DUI probation and going to jail. The case is not over until your probation is complete. Therefore, getting a sentence that is manageable for your life and your circumstances is imperative to long-term success.
In Michigan, drunk driving is also called operating while intoxicated or driving while intoxicated. DUI charges are brought when a driver operates a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol, liquor, drugs, or a combination of these. To secure a conviction, a prosecutor will need to establish certain elements beyond a reasonable doubt: (1) you were operating a motor vehicle (2) on a highway or publicly accessible place, and (3) you were under the influence of alcohol or had a bodily alcohol level of 0.08 grams or more per 100 milliliters of blood or 210 liters of breath or 67 milliliters of urine. Most DUIs are charged as misdemeanors. For a misdemeanor, you can be punished by a maximum of one year in jail, and for a second offense within 7 years. This time is served in the county jail.
In many situations, it is possible to avoid jail time with a first offense misdemeanor DUI. Misdemeanors are less serious than felony DUI charges, for which you may face prison time; prisons are run by the Michigan Department of Corrections. Even so, a drunk driving conviction can have a significant impact on a person’s life. It can also result in harsher penalties for a subsequent offense. Thus, it is wise to retain a misdemeanor DUI attorney in Michigan.
Michigan’s legal limit for drunk driving is 0.08. However, you could still be convicted of drunk driving if your blood alcohol content was lower than this threshold. People often wonder, “How many drinks is it going to take for my blood alcohol level to reach.08?”
It depends on your body composition and a variety of other factors. Understanding how to properly defend DUI cases is dependent on understanding the metabolism of alcohol.
Many physiological factors play a part in how alcohol affects your body. Men and women react differently to alcohol, due to differences in the size of the liver, the amount of alcohol-eliminating chemicals, and the percentage of water that helps to dilute the alcohol.
Because women have more body fat than men, alcohol stays in the bloodstream for longer. These differences in body composition mean that a woman and a man of equal weight will experience different effects from the same amount.
A male driver’s average rate of elimination is 0.015 an hour and 0.018 for a woman driver. People believe that women will eliminate faster, which is why they get drunk quicker. However, the main reason for women getting drunk quicker is that they have more fat. The alcohol is able to move more easily because it is concentrated in the same areas as the water.
A conviction for misdemeanor OWI can result in fines of $100-$500, a maximum of 93 days in jail, and a maximum of 360 hours of community service. The Secretary of State can impose sanctions of a 180-day license suspension with a restricted license available after 30 days. Six points will be added to your driving record.
For a second misdemeanor DUI conviction, you may face harsher penalties and sanctions. Sanctions imposed by the Secretary of State could include a minimum one-year license revocation as well as six points added to your driving record. You may be ordered to equip your car with an ignition interlock device. This is a device that requires you to blow into it and take a breath alcohol test before the car will start. Also, your plate will be confiscated, but registration will not be denied. You can also face vehicle forfeiture, but it is not mandatory. Your car may be immobilized for a maximum of 180 days, but the court is not required to do that. A skilled Michigan misdemeanor DUI attorney can help you try to avoid these penalties.
A third drunk driving offense at any time in your lifetime could be charged as a felony. You can face up to five years in prison for a third drunk driving offense. Unlike some other states, Michigan DUI penalties and convictions cannot be expunged after you get off probation and complete all probation requirements.
It is important to fight misdemeanor DUI charges. Although the punishment is not as severe as for felony DUI, you will be left with a criminal record and the entire process can be a nightmare. An experienced attorney can evaluate the circumstances of your drunk driving charge and determine which defense might be appropriate, given the facts. It is important you receive customized representation in order to achieve the best outcome in your OWI case. There may be constitutional or procedural defenses. For instance, an officer must have a reasonable suspicion of criminal wrongdoing to pull you over for drunk driving under the Fourth Amendment, which guards against illegal searches and seizures. If there was no reasonable suspicion to pull you over, we may be able to get evidence obtained during the stop suppressed in a motion. Similarly, if there was no probable cause to arrest you for the misdemeanor DUI, we may be able to get evidence obtained after an arrest is suppressed.
In some OWI cases the police lack proof that the Defendant was actually operating the vehicle at the time he was alleged to be intoxicated. This is one of the elements of the crime and if they can’t show how drunk the person was when they were driving, they may not be able to prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt. This type of issue along with others such as failure to follow proper procedures when arresting or testing a Defendant’s breath or blood can lead to evidentiary challenges that can win the case or lead to superior plea bargains based upon the prosecution being weakened. Criminal defense lawyers in Michigan can provide valuable advice and guidance that results in the best outcome.
Don’t give up on your OWI case before it has even started. A thorough review of the evidence is needed to determine the right direction in your case.
If you are charged with misdemeanor DUI, you should discuss your situation with our knowledgeable Michigan DUI attorneys. Our experienced drunk driving lawyers can work to find the approach likeliest to yield an appropriate result. Michigan Defense Law represents people in Oakland, Wayne, Macomb, and Washtenaw Counties.