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Michigan DUI Laws and Penalties, What to Know

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Michigan DUI laws and penalties. What are they? How can you fight them? This article answers these questions and more.

DUI offenses are the most common criminal offenses in the criminal justice system.

For this reason, prosecutors and judges are very set in their ways about how to deal with them.

They often have “policy directives,” which means they’ve been told how to deal with them to promote fair treatment and a particular objective (like to be known for being harsh on DUI offenders).

Facing DUI charges? Unhappy with your current attorney? Request a free consultation now.

drinking and driving offenses

Below are the most common alcohol and drug relating driving offenses in Michigan:

1. Operating While Intoxicated (OWI) – First Offense

The first offense drunk driving arrest is just as serious as any other.

For the person accused, it might have been the first time being in a jail cell overnight.

It also has to be the last since it’s a traumatic experience.

Every step of the court process is important too.

Despite often feeling guilty, it’s important to plead not guilty.

This is what’s necessary to get the best possible outcome that everyone is entitled to.

Because the accused has never been through this before, it is especially important to consult an attorney who specializes in OWI defense in Michigan.


  • Up to 93 days in jail,
  • Fines of $100 to $500,
  • 360 hours (45 days) community service
  • Vehicle immobilization at the court’s discretion
  • Possible ignition interlock device during probation.

2. Operating While Intoxicated – Second Offense

Operating While Intoxicated (OWI) – Second Offense means a person was operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated by alcohol or controlled substances after being convicted of a prior OWI or OWVI offense within the last seven years.

The period ranges from the last conviction date until the date of the newest offense.


  • Jail time of five days to one (1) year
  • Fines of $200 to $1,000
  • Minimum 30 days community service (maximum 90 days)
  • Possible ignition interlock device during probation
  • Mandatory vehicle immobilization

3. Operating While Intoxicated – Third Offense

Unless someone has been injured or killed, OWI – Third Offense is the most serious alcohol and/or drug related offense when it comes to Michigan DUI laws and penalties.

Those convicted of a felony drunk driving will be labeled a habitual felon drunk driver for the rest of their life.

The conviction can never be expunged or set aside.

Contrary to this distinction, OWI – Third Offense is still a criminal offense punishable by jail, fines, community service, probation and substance abuse treatment and education.


  • Prison time of one (1) to five (5) years
  • Fines of $500 to $5,000
  • Minimum 30 days probation with jail (maximum of one (1) year)
  • Minimum 60 days community service (maximum 180 days)
  • Possible ignition interlock device during probation
  • Mandatory vehicle immobilization

4. Super Drunk Driving

In 2015, Michigan added the Driving with a High BAC offense, or “Super Drunk” Driving.

Obviously, it was intended to discourage driving with a high BAC and punish those who do harshly.

This offense isn’t always prosecuted by municipalities because if they don’t carry this charge in their ordinance, they will not receive the money generated from the fines.

Therefore, it’s prosecuted more often by the county prosecutors.


  • Up to 180 days in jail
  • Fines and court costs of between $200 and $700
  • 45 days driver’s license suspension followed by 320 days of restricted driving
  • Required installation of ignition interlock device to remain throughout restricted driving period
  • Possible court order to attend alcohol treatment for minimum of one year
  • Possible 360 hours of community service

5. Operating While Intoxicated Causing Serious Injury

Operating While Intoxicated (OWI) or Impaired by Alcohol or Drugs Causing a Serious Injury is a five-year felony.

A person can be convicted of this offense if they drive a motor vehicle after consuming alcohol or other intoxicating substances.

Examples of a serious bodily injury include loss of, or loss of the use of, a limb, hand, foot, ear, eye, or other organs.

Substantial impairment of a bodily function, like walking, being in a coma for more than three days, or suffering a skull fracture or other serious bone fracture are other examples that have been designated by the Michigan Legislature.

This list is not exclusive. Ultimately, a jury can decide what a serious injury is.


  • Up to five years in prison
  • Fine between $1,000 and $5,000
  • Revocation of your driver’s license for a minimum of one (1) year; if you had a prior revocation within the past seven years, the minimum revocation will be five (5) years
  • Immobilization of your vehicle for 180 days

6. Operating While Intoxicated Causing Serious Death


  • Maximum of 15 years in jail
  • Fine between $2,500 and $10,000
  • Vehicle forfeiture
  • Mandatory vehicle immobilization
  • Possible restitution

Michigan DUI laws and penalties are confusing and severe. But we can help you, whether it’s helping you to understand the charges against you or in fighting them.

Facing DUI charges? Unhappy with your current attorney? Request a free consultation now.

Barton Morris
Barton Morris has been providing high-quality legal representation in the area of state and federal criminal defense for more than 20 years.
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