Gun Possession with OWI Charges in Michigan

Operating While Intoxicated (OWI) is a serious criminal offense in Michigan, and its intersection with gun possession adds further legal complexities. The conjunction of these two legal matters requires a nuanced understanding, particularly for those involved in the criminal justice system. Because of the seriousness of this, it is vital to have a clear understanding as to what to expect and how to handle these situations.

As experienced Michigan DUI lawyers with 30+ years’ of legal experience, we’ve seen many situations where possession of a firearm came face to face with an OWI charge. In this article, we’ll discuss various situations and implications surrounding DUI charges with possession of a firearm.

OWI Charges in Michigan

In Michigan, an OWI charge is levied against individuals operating a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08% or higher. Penalties for violating this limit can include fines, imprisonment, and license suspension. The severity increases with subsequent offenses, and aggravating factors may enhance penalties.

Gun Possession and OWI CPL Holders

Man wearing a suit is being pulled over in his car with flashing blue and red lights behind him

For those holding a Concealed Pistol License (CPL), an OWI charge presents additional concerns. Michigan law prohibits carrying a concealed weapon while under the influence of alcohol or controlled substances. This prohibition includes having a BAC of 0.02% or more. The penalties can be severe, including potential revocation of the CPL and jail time.

Felony Implications

If an individual is found in possession of a firearm while committing an OWI, and particularly if it is a repeat offense, they will almost certainly face felony charges. A felony conviction has long-lasting implications, including the loss of the right to possess firearms, inability to secure housing, lost job opportunities and more.

Legal Defenses

While the intersection of OWI and gun possession creates a complex legal scenario, several defenses may be available, depending on the specific facts of the case:

  1. Challenging the OWI: Contesting the accuracy of the BAC results or the legality of the traffic stop may be viable. This would include but not be limited to challenging whether the officer had probable cause to initiate the traffic stop.
  2. Firearm Possession: If the firearm was not on the person or within the vehicle, an argument against the possession charge might be possible.

These defenses require thorough legal analysis and representation by an experienced criminal defense attorney. It is strongly advised to not talk with police when questioned in order to keep options open and avoid self-incrimination.


The convergence of gun possession and OWI charges in Michigan creates a complex and often perilous legal landscape for those facing charges. The stakes are high, with potential criminal convictions, fines, imprisonment, loss of driving privileges, and loss of gun rights on the line.

For individuals facing these charges, the importance of consulting with a knowledgeable attorney cannot be overstated. Legal representation will ensure that the defendant’s rights are protected, and an appropriate defense strategy is developed for the best possible legal outcome.