Possession of or Discharging a Firearm While Under the Influence of Alcohol

Firearm Alcohol

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

Penalties

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.

 

Various Michigan Firearm Laws

Firearm 2

Lansing Michigan Firearm Defense Lawyer

Among the most frequently prosecuted firearm laws are carrying a concealed weapon, a felon in possession of a firearm, and a firearm used in the commission of a felony (felony firearm). There are numerous other firearm laws and restrictions however, which I will discuss.

Transporting or Possessing a Firearm in or Upon a Motor Vehicle

Under MCL 750.227d, it is a crime for a person to transport or possess a firearm in or upon a motor vehicle. However, the law does allow some exceptions.  The law applies to firearms (other than pistols) and pneumatic guns that expels a metallic BB or metallic pellet greater than .177 caliber. Michigan law generally prohibits carrying a firearm in a motor vehicle while being operated, whether concealed or not concealed, unless that person has a concealed pistol license (CPL) or is a licensed firearm dealer lawfully transporting a firearm or an agent of such a licensee.

It is not a violation of the statute if the firearm is unloaded and one or more of the following applies:

  • the firearm is taken down
  • enclosed in a case
  • carried in the trunk of the vehicle
  • inaccessible from the interior of the vehicle

Penalties

Carrying a loaded firearm in or upon a motor vehicle is a misdemeanor punishable by up to 90 days in jail and/or a fine up to $100 plus costs.

Altering, Removing, or Obliterating Identification Marks on a Firearm

Under MCL 750.230 it is unlawful for a person to willfully alter, remove, or obliterate the name of the maker, model, manufacturer’s number, or other marks of identification of a pistol or other firearm. Any person who violates this statute is guilty of a felony punishable by up to two years in prison and/or a fine up to $1,000 plus costs. The law also states that anyone in possession of a firearm with altered, removed, or obliterated marks is presumed to be the person who altered, removed, or obliterated them. However, this particular provision was ruled unconstitutional in 1978 as the burden of proof lies solely with the prosecution.

Michigan Firearm Defense Attorney

Being charged with a firearm or weapons violation can have serious consequences including jail, prison, loss of gun rights, mandatory forfeiture of the firearm, not to mention red flags for future employers. Firearm charges are treated very seriously by prosecutors and judges and many will not offer reductions or plea agreements. You don’t have to let a gun charge ruin your future. If you have been charged with a firearms crime, contact Austin Legal Services, PLC today at (517) 614-1983 to speak to a Michigan firearm defense lawyer!

Defending firearm charges throughout Michigan in the counties of Ingham, Eaton, Clinton, Gratiot, Livingston, Jackson, Kent, Barry, Branch, Hillsdale, Washtenaw in the cities of Lansing, East Lansing, Mason, Charlotte, Howell, Livingston, St. Johns, Ithaca, Ann Arbor, Grand Rapids, Jackson, Hillsdale, Hastings, Coldwater.