Unless someone has been injured or killed, OWI – Third Offense is the most serious alcohol and/or drug related offense in Michigan. 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. Further, the criminal justice system has a special place for these offenders. This means that they are distinct from other types of felony offenses.
Those convicted of felony DUI are generally not normal “criminals” who have mental tendencies to commit criminal offenses. Rather, they are people with a mental illness called alcohol dependence. Many would normally never commit criminal behavior. Their mental illness and inability to make good decisions while intoxicated are the direct causes of the criminal behavior.
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. Since it is a felony, OWI Third Offenses are prosecuted in circuit courts rather than district courts. Circuit courts are where the most serious state offenses are prosecuted, including murder. This is an important distinction, because the same judges and prosecutors are handling both.
It is also interesting that OWI – Third Offense is the most common felony prosecuted circuit courts. Therefore, its common that prosecutors and judges have policies on how they typically deal with these offenses. These policies generally concern typical plea bargaining and sentencing scenarios.