Each year in Michigan, over 35,000 people are arrested for operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of either drugs or alcohol (OWI). These OWI arrests, and especially those that result in a conviction, can have an enormously negative effect on the lives of those charged with the offenses. Punishments in Michigan for an OWI range broadly but generally include a short stay in jail, a several-hundred-dollar fine, points added to the driver’s record, community service, and a license suspension. According to a recent article by MLive, there may be additional sanctions coming up in the next few years for those who are found guilty of OWI.
The MLive report discusses a pilot program implemented by some counties that used ignition-interlock devices for those convicted of more than one OWI offense. An ignition interlock is a breathalyzer-type device that is installed on the dash of a car. It requires a driver to blow into the device each time the car is started and then periodically throughout the time the car is being operated. There is also a camera that takes a still-shot of the person blowing into the device to ensure that a driver doesn’t attempt to have a passenger blow for him or her.
The article explains that recidivism rates when using the ignition interlock device seem to have initially gone down. However, the study admittedly covers only a short period of time. Regardless, some lawmakers are pushing to expand the program throughout the State of Michigan for those convicted of second or subsequent OWI offenses.
Drunk-Driving Laws in Michigan In Michigan, anyone found to be driving with a blood alcohol content of .08 or greater can be found guilty of OWI. Depending on the blood-alcohol content of the driver, the minimum penalty can range from no jail time to up to 180 days, even for a first offense. Along with the consequences discussed above, a conviction for a OWI offense may totally bar the prospect of employment in some career fields and may jeopardize getting or keeping jobs in other areas.
Defending Against a OWI Charge in Michigan There are two main ways to defend against an OWI charge in Michigan courts: non-operation and non-intoxication. The first defense, non-operation, is just what it sounds like: claiming that, since no one saw the defendant behind the wheel, the prosecution cannot prove the defendant was driving. This defense may come up in situations when no one saw the defendant driving, such as an accident with a stationary object. If the defendant was out of the car at the time the police arrived, and there was no one else to testify that the defendant was driving, the prosecution may have a difficult time proving the operation element of the offense.
The second defense is more complex, and it depends on how the prosecution intends to prove the defendant’s intoxication. Defenses in this category include challenging the results of the breathalyzer, presenting non-intoxication witnesses, or challenging a police officer’s credibility insofar as the “signs of intoxication” he listed on the police report. It may also be a defense that the driver was legally prescribed medication and was taking it in therapeutic doses at the time of the incident. If you have been charged with an OWI, don’t face the charge alone. Speak to a dedicated Michigan criminal defense attorney to see what you can do to defend against the case.
Are You Facing an OWI Charge? If you are currently being charged with OWI, you should immediately schedule a free consultation with Attorney Steven Schwartz to discuss your case. The penalties for OWI in Michigan are severe, and additional sanctions may be implemented shortly. Be sure you do everything you can to make sure that the charge has as little effect as possible on the rest of your life. Attorney Schwartz is a dedicated and passionate defender of Michiganders accused of various crimes, including OWIs. Call (248) 266-8720 today to set up a free consultation.