Increased Enforcement on Drunk Drivers in Michigan

The Detroit Police Department along with many other municipalities made the commitment to their communities that they would crack down on drunk driving as 2019 came to a close and 2020 began. There was a notable increased presence of authorities throughout the streets and highways in the state of Michigan in an effort to bolster the Driver Sober or Get Pulled Over campaign.

The campaign was developed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to curb drunk driving. It also promotes an increased police presence aimed at catching those who engage in the dangerous activity so that innocent people will be at a lessened risk of losing their lives to these reckless drivers. The campaign was in full effect in the state of Michigan from December 18, 2019, through January 1, 2020.

The NHTSA reports that the majority of incidents involving drunk drivers take place between midnight and 3:00 a.m. This makes sense as the last call for bars in the state of Michigan is 2:00 a.m. Drunk driving is well-known to be highly risky and dangerous behavior. Even though there is ample evidence supporting the clear relationship between catastrophic traffic accidents and intoxicated driving, there are still many individuals who drive drunk. According to statistics, one person in America will be killed in a drunk driving accident every 23 minutes.

Drunk Driving In Michigan

The number of drunk drivers in the United States is astounding. There are more drunk drivers in our country than there are people in many other countries. The United States loses approximately 11,000 individuals each year from drunk driving incidents. In 2018, close to 32% of the fatal crashes that took place in the state of Michigan were related to alcohol. In 2018 during the Christmas holiday season, nine fatal accidents were the result of alcohol use.

According to the 2019 report released by Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), Michigan is one of the lowest-rated states for drunk driving laws. MADD concludes that lawmakers in the state have failed to improve drunk driving laws in over a decade. Law enforcement’s response at the end of 2019 is a good sign that Michigan is taking the drunk driving issue seriously.

What are the Penalties in Michigan for Driving Under the Influence?

In the state of Michigan, there are two categories to describe driving while inebriated. You are either operating under the influence of drugs or alcohol (OWI) or operating while visibly impaired (OWVI). Out of the two offenses, the OWI is the most grievous and it occurs when one is driving while:

  • Having alcohol or another controlled substance in their system
  • When their blood alcohol content (BAC) is at or above the legal limit of .08%
  • When they have any amount of illicit drugs present in the body

An OWI shows that a person is operating a vehicle with visible proof that they have drugs or alcohol in their system. An OWVI indicates that a person exhibits signs of impairment from drugs or alcohol.

The penalties for these offenses are:

  • First-time offenders can serve up to 180 days in jail if they have a BAC that is excessive, at .17% or over. Otherwise, the max jail sentence is up to 93 days. Fines can be up to $500 but if the defendant was at that excessive level of .17% or more the fines are much higher at a minimum of $200 and up to a maximum of $700. When one is a first-time offender and charged with OWVI, the fines can be as high as $300. Community service can also be handed down at a maximum of 360 hours.
  • Second-offenses will serve a minimum of five days in jail and may serve up to one year. Fines can be as high as $1,000. Community service will be served. One m may serve a minimum of 30 days but can be sentenced to serve a maximum of 90 days.
  • Third offenses result in one to five years in jail. That jail sentence may be reduced to 30 days to one year if the defendant has also been sentenced to community service. Fines are quite high at a minimum of $500 and a maximum of $5,000. Community service can be anywhere from 60 days to 180 days.

A judge may also order either immobilization or forfeiture of a defendant’s driving abilities in both OWI and OWVI cases. 

  • First-time offenders may have to forfeit their license or have it restricted for up to 180 days.
  • Second-time offenders may have to forfeit their license or it can be restricted for 90 to 180 days.
  • Third-time offenders may face forfeiting their license or it can be restricted for one to three years.

There are even harsher penalties if the individual who is driving has put a young passenger in harm’s way. When a driver has a passenger 16 years or younger in the car at the time of their offense, the following will occur:

  • First-time offenders face a fine of upwards of $1,000 in addition to five days to one year in jail or they can complete 30 to 90 days of community service.
  • Additional offenses where these younger passengers are involved will come with $500 to $5,000 fines and one to five years in jail. Probation is also possible. In order to get probation, there must have been five days to one year spent in jail as well as 30 to 90 days of completed community service.

Do You Need Legal Representation In Michigan for Your OWI Or OWVI Case?

The Michigan OWI defense attorneys at the Schwartz Law Group have extensive experience helping those who have been charged with an OWI, DUI, or OWVI crimes in Michigan. We know how complex these cases are to litigate and we have the resources and the compassion to fight for our clients’ rights. 

The Birmingham drunk driving defense attorneys at the Schwartz Law Group are fully invested in examining every detail of each individual DUI case we see. We know how to seek out opportunities to pursue the best possible resolution for your case.

Call the Schwartz Law Group today and we can discuss your OWI/OWVI situation during a free consultation. Our talented and knowledgeable Michigan criminal defense attorneys can be contacted at (248) 266-8720.