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What Is An OWI?

OWI Operating While Intoxicated

OWI Explained

OWI stands for “Operating While Intoxicated,” and Michigan, Iowa, and other states use this term instead of DUI or DWI. This criminal traffic offense is very serious and requires the skills of a top OWI lawyer in the state where you were arrested. The legal blood alcohol content BAC limit in Operating While Intoxicated states are 0.08% if you are over 21.

First OWI Offense in Michigan

As an example of how tough and comprehensive drunk driving laws can be, review these aspects of Michigan’s OWI law. A first offense is generally a misdemeanor, but it depends on the circumstances of your drunk driving arrest. For example, if someone in your car was injured or killed, or someone in another car or on the sidewalk was injured or killed, the driver can face felony charges. Permitting a drunk driver to operate your car while operating while intoxicated can possibly put you in state prison for 5 years if someone dies at the hands of the intoxicated driver. As the severity of your arrest circumstances increases, so do the penalties. These can include jail time, probation, community service, court fines, OWI class, and possible vehicle forfeiture.

Drunk Driving Penalties Where a Death Is Involved

In Michigan, OWI or OUIL (Operating a Vehicle Under the Influence of Intoxicating Liquor) is a felony when a death occurs, and is punishable by fines up to $10,000, plus up to 15 years in state prison. The driver’s vehicle will also be forfeited or ordered to be immobilized. Michigan laws call for use of proceeds of the vehicle sale to help pay restitution to the family of the deceased party. Michigan also has a special law that extends the maximum prison sentence to 20 years if a police officer or firefighter is the person killed.

Operating While Intoxicated Carries Severe Penalties

Do not try to fight these criminal charges alone! State prosecutors are highly trained in drunk driving law, and are trained to become more aggressive each year. State laws change all the time, and without a top criminal defense lawyer representing you, knowing when to plead guilty or when to file pre-trial motions is almost impossible. Your personal situation can make matters very complicated. Are you under 21? Are you a commercial driver who drives for a living? Do you rent cars on out-of-town business trips? Do you routinely drive your children or someone else’s children to school? Many variables come into play in an impaired driving case, and a conviction leads to a lifetime of penalties and expenses.

Michigan laws currently require the following penalties:

First Offense:
Up to $500 fine
Up to 93 days in jail
Up to 360 hours of community service

The key phrase here is “Up to.” This is where a top criminal lawyer can fight to minimize your sentencing, with the goal of eliminating the charges altogether.

OWI Law in Michigan Has Other Felony Statutes

An intoxicated or impaired driver who causes serious bodily injury (serious impairment of the bodily functions of another) can face 5 years in prison for a felony. Similarly, a person who is OWI to drive, where another person is killed, can result in a 5-year felony sentence for the person who allowed the drunken driver to operate while intoxicated.

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