News of increased opioid use and deaths due to overdoses continue to make headlines throughout the United States. Michigan is not immune to the crisis—more than 1,900 people died in the state as a result of opioid overdose during 2017. When opioid users get behind the wheel of a motor vehicle, they place not only their life but the lives of those around them at risk for injury or death. Michigan has tough laws when it comes to drugged driving charges. If you are charged with driving under the influence of opioids, contact a Michigan defense lawyer without delay.
Common Opioid Drugs
Opioids include illegal drugs, like heroin, and prescription pain medication. Examples of other common opioids are oxycodone, morphine, and methadone. Fentanyl, a synthetic opioid is of special concern due to its potency. The synthetic drug is 100 times more potent than morphine and 50 times more potent than heroin. Originally developed to relieve cancer pain, the drug is often added to heroin or disguised as heroin. Most heroin users are unaware that their drug includes fentanyl, resulting in accidental overdoses.
Types of Criminal Charges for Driving While Using Opioids
According to the Michigan State Police, drivers with any amount of a Schedule 1 controlled substance or cocaine in their system are subject to the same fines and penalties as drunk drivers. The only exception is those drivers who carry a medical marijuana card and who are showing signs of impairment. Michigan law requires police to show the impairment is due to marijuana use.
If you choose to drive while using opioids, you may face one, or possibly more, of the following criminal charges:
- Operating While Visibly Impaired (OWVI) – This charge specifically relates to a driver’s ability to operate a motor vehicle while visibly impaired. Drivers face an OWVI charge when under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or other intoxicating substances.
- Operating While Intoxicated (OWI) – Often referred to as driving while intoxicated (DWI), this charge mainly refers to blood concentration levels (BAC) that affect one’s ability to drive. However, an OWI charge can also include drugs or other intoxicating substances in your body.
- Operating With Any Presence of a Schedule 1 controlled substance or cocaine (OWPD) – Any trace of a Schedule 1 drug or cocaine in your body, no matter how small, may result in this charge. A driver does not have to appear impaired or intoxicated. A chemical test is a common method for identifying drugs in a driver’s system.
While BAC standards under Michigan law are set at or above .08 percent for intoxication, there is no threshold for opioid levels in a driver’s body. You may show no outward signs of impairment and feel capable of safely operating a motor vehicle. How you appear or feel makes no matter to law enforcement when the chemical tests show positive results for opioid use.
Michigan Drugged Driving Laws
It is a goal of the state to act swiftly and sternly with drivers charged with drugged driving. Michigan drivers face stiff penalties for drugged driving that range from license suspension to jail time. State law requires the following:
- Courts must decide drugged, and drunk, driving cases within 77 days after an arrest
- Mandatory six-month driver’s license suspension, even for first-time offenders
- Court-ordered participation and completion of a rehabilitation program if the defendant has one or more prior convictions
- Possible jail time, community service, or both if it is the defendant’s second conviction
- Harsher sanctions regarding license revocation for those with multiple prior convictions
- A $125 reinstatement fee for revoked, restricted, or suspended driver’s licenses
Charges for drugged driving that causes injury, results in death or is the defendant’s third conviction are felonies. Felony charges have even greater penalties and consequences for your life.
Call a DUI Lawyer for More Information
Opioid use is risky behavior that can result in criminal charges. Not only may you deal with charges that stem from driving, but an office may also charge you with possession. Depending upon the circumstances, a drugged driving charge might just be a start to a long list of additional charges.
Drugged driving charges affect your employment, your relationship, and your finances. Even if you do not lose your job, you miss a significant amount of time due to court. Losing your driver’s license is more than an inconvenience—it is a loss of the privilege of freedom. Having to constantly seek transportation and the dependency on others only adds stress to an already stressful situation.
A drugged driving charge carries serious consequences. Whether it is your first offense or you have prior convictions, it is important to consult immediately with a highly experienced Michigan defense lawyer. Protecting your future depends upon having a strong defense in court.
Trying to navigate court proceedings and legal documents on your own are overwhelming, but an experienced legal team that understands the laws as they apply to drugged driving can secure the best possible outcome for clients accused of driving under the influence of drugs.
Don’t risk your future by trying to represent yourself in court. Michigan law is swift and firm. Let our highly skilled legal team handle the details of your defense. Knowing your case is in good hands will create a better peace-of-mind for you.
If you struggle with opioid addiction and face serious charges because of it, reach out for help today so that you can secure a better future for you and your family.
Do think twice before getting behind the wheel of your motor vehicle using opioids. While opioid use and addiction is a nationwide problem, it doesn’t mean people must lose their rights. Protect yours with a strong defense.