A hard and fast rule is that guns and alcohol don’t mix. If you are in possession of or use a firearm in any way while under the influence of alcohol or any other controlled substance, there can be heavy penalties to pay. If someone is injured or dies because you were using a gun while under the influence, you are facing serious prison time. Just like with other firearm charges like carrying a concealed weapon, felon in possession of a firearm, and felony firearm, judges and prosecutors treat charges of possession of or discharging a firearm while under the influence of alcohol very seriously. Firearms can be dangerous under normal circumstances. Adding the element of alcohol impedes a person’s judgment which increases the chance of something going wrong or someone being hurt.
Elements of the Offense
MCL 750.237 prohibits a person from possessing, using in any manner, having under control, or discharging a firearm under any of the following circumstances:
- Under the influence of alcohol, controlled substance, or combination thereof
- Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) of .08 grams or more
- Use of alcohol, controlled substance, or combination thereof impairs the ability to use a firearm
A person found guilty of possessing, using, or discharging a firearm while under the influence of alcohol is guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by up to 93 days in jail and a fine up to $100 for being in possession and a fine up to $500 for using or discharging. If someone is injured or dies as a result of discharging a firearm while under the influence, it is a felony. If the discharge of the firearm causes serious impairment of a bodily function (serious injury) it is punishable by up to five years in prison and/or a fine from $1,000-5,000 plus costs. If the discharge caused the death of another person, it is punishable by up to 15 years in prison and a fine from $2,500-10,000 plus costs. The definition for serious injury is the same as used in the law for an OWI Causing Serious Injury or a Moving Violation Causing Serious Injury.
Can the Police Make Me Take a Chemical Test?
If a police officer has probable cause to believe you are using or possessing a gun under the influence of alcohol or a controlled substance, he can require you to submit to a chemical test (breath, blood, or urine). They are the same chemical tests used in OWI drunk driving cases. If the suspect is a hemophiliac, has diabetes, or has a condition requiring the use of a coagulant, the suspect cannot be required to submit to a blood test.
Before submitting to a chemical test the police officer must inform a suspect of the following:
- If the suspect refuses to submit, the police officer may seek a warrant from a judge or magistrate for the chemical test
- If the suspect submits, he may seek a second chemical test of his choosing and at his own expense
It is important to note that even if the officer does not read these chemical test rights it does not mean that the chemical tests are inadmissible at trial. The collecting and testing is done in the same manner as required for an OWI.
If you are charged with possessing or using a firearm while under the influence of alcohol, you need an experienced firearms criminal defense attorney representing you. Call Austin Legal Services, PLC at (517) 614-1983 to speak with a Michigan criminal defense attorney today!
Defending possessing, using, and discharging a firearm under the influence of alcohol and other firearms and weapons charges throughout Michigan in the counties of: Ingham, Eaton, Clinton, Gratiot, Jackson, Livingston, Calhoun, Kalamazoo, Barry, Kent, Washtenaw, Branch in the cities of: Lansing, East Lansing, Mason, Charlotte, St. Johns, Ithaca, Brighton, Howell, Battle Creek, Grand Rapids, Hastings, Ann Arbor, Coldwater.