Impaired driving arrests carry stiff penalties in Michigan. Statistics show that 30% of fatal car accidents involve drunk drivers. Since driving requires mental and physical concentration, it remains important to refrain from using any substance that negatively affects your ability to operate a vehicle. Of course, even the most conscientious and alert driver may make a mistake while driving.
For example, one might misjudge a light, or not see an oncoming car when turning right on a red light. If those choices lead to an accident AND you are ticketed for an OWI, the results are MUCH more serious than “making an error in judgment.” If you receive an OWI, contact an attorney immediately before speaking to police. This remains CRITICAL if the accident caused any injury or led to a fatality.
Michigan OWI Definition
Michigan Law uses the term OWI (Operating While Intoxicated) and includes driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Some people may refer to these arrests as DUI’s. However, the proper term is OWI. In regards to alcohol, an OWI is defined as having a blood alcohol content of 0.08% or higher when operating a standard vehicle. If you are driving a commercial vehicle, the blood alcohol content may not be 0.04% or higher.
Finally, drivers younger than 21 years old may not drive if their blood alcohol is 0.02% or higher. Additionally, if law enforcement suspects a driver is high on drugs, a breath, blood, or urine test may be ordered. Some drivers refuse the initial breath test. However, police officers may obtain necessary legal paperwork and compel testing.
Penalties for OWI Causing Injury
Operating a vehicle while intoxicated carries severe penalties. Drivers convicted of an OWI that caused a serious injury may be charged with a five year felony, lose their car, and face fines. Also, the injured party may sue in civil court for damages. It’s important to note that a drunk, or high driver need not be operating the vehicle when the accident occurred.
One example would be an impaired driver that falls asleep, crashes into a parked car, and proceeds to block an intersection. A few minutes later, another car turns a corner and smashes into the intoxicated person’s vehicle. The impaired driver may not have been driving at the time of the accident. Yet, the driver of the car that simply turned the corner certainly didn’t expect to find a car blocking the road. So, the impaired driver IS RESPONSIBLE for any injuries to the unsuspecting driver. Basically, these cases are complicated. So, make sure you contact an experienced OWI attorney if you are involved in any accident that results in injury.
Penalties for OWI Resulting in Death
Michigan considers impaired driving causing another person’s death an extremely serious offense. This felony charge may lead to a 15 year prison sentence and up to $10,000 in fines. Similar to every OWI case, the prosecution must show intoxication. If there is no proof you were intoxicated, higher charges must be dropped. Then, the prosecutor must prove you were responsible for the accident. This is why you hire an experienced OWI defense attorney. Convictions for OWI related offenses carry severe penalties and affect your future career. For this reason, contact an experienced criminal defense attorney that understands OWI cases.