Operating While Intoxicated: OWI Second Offense Charge

OWI is a very serious offense. There will be a presumption that the offender has a substance abuse problem for alcohol and/or drugs. The belief is that there are not very many people who would be arrested for a second offense within seven years of each other. Jail time is often a realistic consideration by most courts, which can result in the loss of employment.

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.

The same is not true for qualification of the second offense license sanction (see below).

A conviction for OWI Second Offense is a mandatory minimum of five days in jail with a maximum of one year in jail. Many judges will exceed the five-day minimum depending upon the circumstances. The biggest considerations are the recency of the prior offense and the BAC. A minimum of 30 days and up to 90 days of community service will be imposed. The fine is increased to a maximum of $1,000.00.

If the second offense conviction is within seven years of a prior conviction, the offender’s license will be revoked for a minimum of one year. Revocation means the offender is not entitled to its return automatically. Instead, the accused must prove he or she will be a safe driver through a license restoration hearing. Even a plea to a lesser OWVI will cause a license suspension revocation.

A second OWI offense will significantly impact vehicle insurance. Often times, it will cause the policy to not be renewed. There is also a mandatory vehicle immobilization. If the driver license is lost, usually a job will be lost as well.

If sobriety court is not an option, often times a person charged with a second offense has nothing to lose. A DUI criminal defense lawyer can be very aggressive under such circumstances. Trials are more common and therefore, a trial lawyer is necessary. The breath or blood alcohol content (BAC) usually must be excessively questioned.

Learn how we fought a second offense OWI charge and won for our client >> 

Trials are much more likely for a second offense DUI. A person should not hire a DUI defense attorney who does not have significant trial experience, because that lawyer will do anything not to go to trial. They are literally scared to do so. It is for good reason; they will embarrass themselves when trying a case without knowing the applicable science and Michigan DUI law.

A good DUI trial lawyer has tried at least 10 DUI cases to a jury. Even if they lost all of them, which is entirely possible given how hard they are, they are more likely to win the ones that follow. It takes approximately 10 trials to start becoming good at them.

A trained trial lawyer is important as well. Look for a lawyer that has been trained by the Gerry Spence Trial Lawyer’s College or the National College for Criminal Defense Lawyers. The Criminal Defense Association of Michigan also has a trial practice college. Barton Morris, principal attorney at the Law Offices of Barton Morris, has graduated all three programs.

A habitual offender is presumed to have an alcohol or drug problem by everyone in the criminal justice system. In the event of a potential conviction, it is highly recommended to engage in substance abuse counseling and Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) to begin treating the potential problem before a judge has to make you do it.

While most evidence is preserved, it is a good idea to immediately demand preservation of the booking room video. It possesses potentially valuable information, such as the Datamaster (DMT) breath test (or test refusal) or blood draw.

A person whom had their license revoked due to a second DUI offense must have at least one year of sobriety from alcohol and drugs to qualify for a license restoration hearing. It is preferred that they not be on probation as well.

To request a hearing, it is necessary to have a substance abuse assessment and three letters of community proofs providing evidence of no alcohol consumption with a plan to remain sober in the future. If an offender remains sober, it is impossible for them to get another DUI and endanger the public. The entire process is explained here.

Some, not all, jurisdictions have a sobriety court. Sobriety court is an intensive probation with an emphasis on substance abuse recovery and relapse prevention. If successfully entered, it could suspend any jail sentence to be eliminated until successful completion.

Additionally, it can provide the opportunity for an expedited restricted license privileges with the use of a breath alcohol ignition interlock device (BAAID). Sometimes, a court will take a transfer from another court that does not have the program. In this case, both judges have to agree.

The Law Offices of Barton Morris offers free case evaluations. Schedule an appointment with one of our DUI attorneys in Royal Oak by calling (248) 541-2600.

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