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Updated: Nov 10, 2023

An OWI charge in Michigan comes with many collateral consequences. Many defendants fail to realize these consequences exist, and some of them can last for years. Even an underage OWI (sometimes lightly referred to as a “baby DUI”) has serious consequences which can follow a defendant into his or her adult life.

Section 257.625 of the Michigan Compiled Laws makes operating a vehicle while intoxicated a criminal offense. It also sets forth sentencing guidelines for defendants both over and under the age of twenty-one. Like many states, Michigan has enacted a “zero tolerance” policy with respect to underage OWI. This means that a minor is guilty of OWI if he or she has any discernible bodily alcohol content while operating a motor vehicle.

Michigan Law defines bodily alcohol content as registering at .02 grams of alcohol or higher per 100 milliliters of blood. If the minor has a blood alcohol content of .08 or above, the offense is treated as an OWI and subjected the statutory penalties, therefore. These include a jail sentence of up to 93 days, a fine of $100 to $500, and suspension of the defendant’s driver’s license. The driver must also pay a $1000 driver responsibility fee for the two years following the conviction.

The Consequences That Many OWI Defendants Don’t Know About

While most defendants understand that they face a combination of fines, jail time, and ignition interlock use, they are painfully unaware of the collateral consequences that an OWI conviction can bring. First, the court process is not a simple matter of filling out forms. It requires multiple appearances at the court which often results in missing work. Court-ordered community service and substance abuse classes take more time and can further aggravate the defendant’s employer. Furthermore, the sentenced fine is not the only court cost an OWI defendant must pay. There are court fees, administrative fees, attorney’s fees, and other fees which add up quickly. Finally, defendants do not always realize the impact of having a criminal record. This can preclude employment and educational opportunities. Social events and relationships can also be impacted. Employment can also be affected by OWI, which can affect a defendant’s professional licensure. Many licensing entities in Michigan require reporting of criminal convictions – some even require reporting of arrests and other pre-conviction proceedings. A first-time DUI offense can cause a defendant to spend many hours attempting to secure his or her professional licensure. This, too, can incur more attorneys' fees.

Finally, it is important to realize how much time must be spent at the DMV in order to reinstate a defendant’s driving privileges after an OWI conviction. A special restricted license must be obtained for the period in which a defendant has an ignition interlock device. When this period is successfully completed, the defendant must obtain the appropriate court order and return to the DMV to have his or her regular driver’s license reinstated. This process is neither fun nor fast. An experienced Troy OWI lawyer can protect your constitutional rights throughout the process of criminal charges, and mitigate the collateral damage that an OWI conviction can bring.


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