Michigan Operating While Intoxicated (OWI) Overview

In the State of Michigan, law enforcement can charge you with an OWI if you operate a motor vehicle (or even exercise control over a vehicle) with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08% or higher, regardless of whether your ability to drive was actually affected by alcohol. Michigan law also states that if you are driving a vehicle in the State of Michigan, you have already given your permission to law enforcement to consent to a chemical test to determine how much if any alcohol is in your blood. The following are some brief facts about drinking and driving laws in Michigan:

In Michigan, what happens if I refuse to take a test (including a portable breath test or blood test) when law enforcement suspects me of OWI?

The following outcomes are the consequences for not taking a portable breath test or blood test in Michigan:

1st OWI offense - 1 year license suspension

2nd OWI offense - 2 year license suspension

3rd OWI offense - 2 year license suspension

What is the maximum BAC for drivers under twenty-one years old in Michigan?

In Michigan, the maximum BAC for drivers who are under twenty-one years old is .02%.

When are Michigan law enforcement officers required to measure your BAC?

Michigan law enforcement officers are supposed to measure your BAC at the time of driving if they suspect you have recently consumed alcohol. At trial however, a prosecuting attorney might be able to prove to a judge or jury that you committed OWI even if your BAC is taken later than at the time of arrest – at a police station for example.

How long will prior OWI convictions remain relevant for sentencing purposes in Michigan?

In Michigan, prior OWI convictions remain a part of your criminal history (and can be used against you if a judge is sentencing you for an additional drinking and driving offense) for up to seven years for a second or subsequent drinking and driving offense.

How much jail time will I get for an OWI in Michigan?

It’s impossible to predict how much jail time a judge will give you in a given OWI case.  The following sentences are the minimum jail sentences for an OWI in Michigan:

1st offense - No minimum jail term required

2nd offense - Five days in jail

3rd offense - Thirty days in jail

Can I plead to a lesser charge than OWI in Michigan?

Through his attorney, a defendant charged with OWI may be able to secure a plea offer to reckless driving or another similar driving-related offense.

The decision to make any offer often lies with the particular prosecutor assigned to your case.  Sometimes an attorney might secure a plea offer from a supervising prosecutor.  There is no right to a plea offer.

Do court require ignition interlock devices for OWI offenders in Michigan?

Yes.  Such devices are required for second and subsequent offenses.