Michigan refers to its drunk driving statute as Operating While Intoxicated (OWI) In addition to OWI, Michigan also has several other drunk driving offenses including:  Operating While Visibly Impaired (Impaired Driving), Operating with the Presence of any Schedule 1 Drug or Cocaine (OWPD), Under 21 and Driving with any BAC, and High BAC (Super Drunk).

First Offense OWI Penalties

  • 93 days in jail
  • One-year probation
  • $500 fine plus court costs, costs of prosecution, costs of police
  • 45 days of community service
  • Possible ignition interlock or vehicle immobilization
  • Six points on your driving record
  • 180 days suspended license– 30 days of no driving followed by 150 days of restrictions
  • $2,000 in Driver’s Responsibility Fees ($1,000 for two consecutive years) for OWI
  • $1,000 in Driver’s Responsibility Fees ($500 for two consecutive years) for OWPD

For a more detailed list of all Michigan OWI charges and penalties, click here.

Drunk Driving and Alcohol Related Offenses

How I Approach a Michigan OWI Case

Our first goal is also to see if the case can be dismissed. The first place to look and the easiest way to accomplish this is to see if the validity of the initial stop can be challenged. If the police did not have reasonable suspicion to pull you over, then any evidence that is discovered from this stop would be suppressed as “fruit of the poisonous tree.” We thoroughly review the police reports and cruiser cam videos to make sure the police had a legally justifiable reason for pulling you over. The next order of business is to see if any incriminating statements or the field sobriety tests can be suppressed. Any statements, officer’s observations, and field sobriety test results will determine if the police had probable cause to arrest you and have you take a chemical test at the police station. The most common chemical test is the breath test or DataMaster machine, but sometime blood draws are used if they suspect drugs and occasionally a urine test will be given.

It is important that the machine used be thoroughly checked for calibration and proper maintenance as well as the training and certification of the operator. The police must also read you your chemical test rights and observe you for 15 minutes prior to administering the breath test. This is what a good OWI attorney will do in every case and that is how you can tell the experienced OWI attorney from a novice.

If a dismissal cannot be obtained, we next try to negotiate a non-alcohol related offense to plead to such as reckless driving or careless driving. Depending on the facts of the case and the policy of the prosecutor’s office, that may not always be possible. Operating While Visibly Impaired (OWVI) or Impaired Driving, is often a plea offer for first offense OWI. While it is a reduction in fines, costs, driver’s responsibility fees, points on your driving record, and automatically comes with a restricted license, it is not an acceptable plea for everyone. We help you decide whether it is in your best interests to take the matter to trial or accept the plea offer. This becomes even more crucial in subsequent OWI cases and third offense felony OWI cases where the plea offers are generally not good or often non-existent. That is when you need an experienced OWI lawyer more than ever. For subsequent offenders, Sobriety Court can be a good option. Upon successful completion of Sobriety Court, the conviction is reduced to a lesser charge.

As you can see, the stakes are high for an OWI charge and the harsh penalties can have a devastating impact on your life and career. Also, any OWI or driving offense cannot be expunged meaning it will forever remain on your criminal and driving record. It is important that you have skilled and experienced representation for any drunk driving charge. What you want to avoid is attorneys who merely dabble in OWI defense or believe that OWI cases cannot be won. Even though it is a misdemeanor, it is by far the most complex misdemeanor with a lot of variables that can affect the outcome. Your future is too important to be placed into the hands of someone who will plead you out the first chance he gets whether it is in your best interests or not.

If you have been charged with OWI, call Austin Legal Services, PLC today at (517) 614-1983 to speak with a Michigan OWI lawyer so we can start preparing your case.


Representing DUI and OWI Clients throughout Michigan in the counties of: Ingham, Eaton, Jackson, Livingston, Shiawassee, Clinton, Kent, Washtenaw, Hillsdale, Kalamazoo, Calhoun, Branch and Barry in the cities of: Lansing, East Lansing, Mason, Charlotte, Jackson, Howell, Brighton, Corunna, Durand, St. Johns, Grand Rapids, Ann Arbor, Hillsdale, Kalamazoo, Battle Creek, Coldwater, Hastings.