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DUI Charges in Michigan

Receiving a DUI is a frightening experience and life changing event. Many people are unaware of collateral consequences associated with a drunk driving charge. For instance, someone charged with a DUI in certain areas such as Oakland County may face jail time even for a first offense. Having an experienced DUI lawyer on your side is vital for not only staying out of jail, but also protecting your future.

Young DUI lawyer Mike Kelly sitting down at a desk discussing the topic of drunk driving charges in Michigan

How a DUI Affects Your Life

Car Keys on a table next to several beer cans and a red cup, symbolizing a DUIThe consequences of being arrested for a DUI do not end after a night in jail. There are many other potential legal consequences and hardships associated with having a DUI on your record.

Here are some quick facts about DUI’s and how they can impact someone’s life:

  • In most cases, they cannot be expunged or set aside
  • Drunk driving offenses can stay on a criminal record permanently
  • Having a DUI on your record may affect future employment opportunities
  • The courts may sentence someone to jail, even for a first-time offense
  • An OWI adds points on your driving record
  • An OWI results in suspension of your driver’s license

At Kelly & Kelly we offer over 30 years of court experience and top notch advocacy for our clients. We understand good people make mistakes and shouldn’t always be punished for the rest of their life. We fight to ensure our clients avoid jail time and minimize the impact a DUI has on their future.

Having a DUI on Your Criminal Record

Many people do not consider the long term collateral consequences associated with having a DUI on their criminal record. In Michigan, it’s not uncommon for someone to receive a jail sentence and strict probation following a drunk driving conviction. In Michigan, a DUI cannot be expunged or set aside at any period of time after completing probation. This is because it’s technically classified under the motor vehicle code and not the criminal code.

Unfortunately, a judge can’t prevent the Secretary of State from suspending someone’s driver’s license or adding points to onto the license. Furthermore, drunk driving charges aren’t eligible for certain deferral programs, youthful offender programs, or stay out of trouble programs.

It’s also important to note, International travel to Canada is prohibited as Canada will not allow someone with an OWI on their criminal record to cross the border and enter the country.

These are all collateral consequences that most people do not consider after being arrested for drunk driving. The consequences are major because the reality is that unless and until Michigan has something like a “DUI first offender forgiveness program”, these are the types of things that are on your record and you are going to have to answer for that for the rest of your life.

Although a DUI cannot generally be removed from your criminal record, that doesn’t mean there aren’t solutions. Our law firms fights to ensure your legal rights are upheld, penalties are minimized and your drunk driving offense has as minimal impact on your future as possible.

How a DUI Lawyer Can Help

As experienced criminal lawyers specializing in drunk driving offenses, we represent clients by observing all the facts and circumstances within a case and providing context to the judge where necessary. First, we look at every angle of a case to ensure the legal rights of our clients were respected by law enforcement. We consider details such as:

The Traffic Stop – Did law enforcement actually have proper legal grounds to make a traffic stop?

The Arrest – Did law enforcement have probable cause to stop your vehicle and make an arrest?

Legal Grounds – Was there legal grounds for police to believe you were under the influence of alcohol?

Preliminary Breathalyzer Test (PBT) – Was the road side PBT properly administered by the police? (i.e. whether or not the device was calibrated, if the officer was properly trained, if data was correctly entered, etc)

Miranda Rights – Were you read your rights by a law enforcement official at the appropriate time?

Method of BAC Testing – Did the case involve a breathalyzer to test the blood alcohol levels (BAC) or was a blood draw administered instead?

Blood Draw – Did law enforcement obtain the necessary legal documentation (valid warrants) to conduct a blood draw for DUI testing?

DUI Blood Testing – Was the DUI blood test properly administered with medical personnel that are properly trained in conducting these tests and were you read necessary legal rights prior to blood testing?

Blood Test Lab Results – Were the samples from blood testing correctly obtained, tested, and stored by the laboratory and was the data obtained from the samples properly entered?

Valid Warrants – Was there consent for the blood draw or were warrants obtained? Were these warrants issued by the correct court and signed by a judge?

If your legal rights were respected and the proper protocols were followed by police, then it’s unlikely a drunk driving charge will be thrown out or that a conviction will be overturned. In these cases, we focus our efforts on ensuring that a client’s criminal record does not simply end with, for example, “Oakland County OWI August, 2019.”

What we like to have our clients do and what our clients enjoy the benefit of is simply being able to say “see attached” next to their OWI conviction. This plan may include certificates of completion, cover letters of support, character references, community service endeavors, rehabilitative composite picture, etc.

With this plan, you can show the courts and potential employers that you incurred bad circumstances and responded in an exceptional way. The fact is, you’re human and humans make many good and bad choices every day; but, yet after a bad choice you showed the ability to rebound in the right direction from it.

This is the message that our clients walk away with. As definitive as these convictions are it doesn’t have to be that way. You have options, and one of these options is hiring an experienced DUI lawyer to represent your best interests and protect your future.

The lawyers at Kelly & Kelly P.C. experienced in all courts throughout the state of Michigan. This knowledge is required to defend your rights, affirm your innocence or minimize penalties/disciplinary actions.

Proactive Criminal Defense – Our law firm puts together personalized plans for each of our clients to help them navigate the system and address the situation which led them to being involved in the criminal justice system. We focus on putting the client in the best light when in front of the judge.

Drunk Driving in Oakland County

Being charged with a DUI in Oakland County (52nd District Court), is a particularly serious matter. This is serious because this area is notoriously strict on sentencing for drunk driving offenses. In fact, the county received national attention in 2011 when an Oakland County judge issued a jail sentence on an NBA player for a first-time DUI charge.

This was not an isolated event as the county prides itself for being tough on the enforcement of drunk driving laws. As a result, it’s not unheard of for someone to receive a jail sentence for a first time DUI in Oakland County, particularly, when they lack proper legal defense.

Michigan Drunk Driving Offense Classifications

This is the most common DUI charge. Simply put, an OWI is classified as someone driving under the influence of alcohol with a blood alcohol content (BAC) at or above the legal limit of 0.08%.

Possible penalties for a first offense OWI include:

  • Maximum of 93 days in County Jail or up to 24 months of probation
  • Maximum of $500.00 in Base Court Fines
  • 6 Points on Driver’s License
  • Mandatory 30-day license suspension, followed by 150-day restriction (driving privilege limited to work/school/treatment/court etc.)
  • $1,000/Year for 2 years in Driver’s Responsibility Fees (Total $2,000.00)

It’s important to note, these penalties increase for a second offense OWI and third offense OWI. In cases where the offender has multiple OWI charges on his record (more than 2-3), the judge may potentially sentence the offender to life in prison.

A zero tolerance DUI charge involves an underage offender. Specifically, when someone under the age of 21 drives with any measurable amount of alcohol (.02%)

Possible penalties for a zero tolerance DUI include:

  • Possible Sentence:    $250.00 Fine and/or 45 days Community Service Work (CSW)
    • No Jail Allowed on 1st Offense
    • $500.00 Fine and/or 60 days CSW, and/or 93 days Jail (2nd Off.)
    • $500.00 Driver’s Responsibility Fees
  • Points:    4 [Compared with 6 for OWI, plus higher fines]
  • License Sanctions:
    (a)  1st offense    30 days Restricted
    (b)  2nd offense    90 days-1 Year Suspended, Restricted after 90 days

Operating While Visibly Impaired (OVWI) is one of the classifications of criminal offenses involving drunk driving. This specific offense is unique from an OWI (commonly referred to as DUI) in that, there’s no minimum Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) required by law enforcement to make an arrest.

Possible penalties for an OWVI include:

  • Maximum of 93 days in County Jail or up to 24 months of probation
  • Maximum of $300.00 in Base Court Fines
  • 4 Points
  • 90-day license suspension with restrictions allowed for entire period
  • $500/Year for 2 years in Driver’s Responsibility Fees (Total $1,000.00)

When someone is arrested for driving with a blood alcohol content of 0.17% or more, they are legally considered “super-drunk.” This will greatly enhance penalties as opposed to a typical OWI.

Possible penalties for a high BAC OWI include:

  • 180-day jail maximum Misdemeanor and/or up to 24 months of probation
  • Base Fine between $200-$700.00 (Excludes probation fees, court assessments, police recovery fees, victim fees, etc.)
  • Mandatory 1-year Alcohol Rehabilitation Program
  • Discretionary Immobilization of the vehicle involved in arrest
  • License Sanction:
    • 45 day loss of license
    • 320 days’ restricted license only with Alcohol Interlock Device installed
    • 6 Points
    • $2,000.00 Driver Responsibility Fee ($1,000/per year for 2 years)

A chart showing the various degrees of drunk driving classifications, charges, and penalties in Michigan. This ranges from OWI punishable by up to 93 days in jail all the way up to OWI causing death punishable by up to 15 years in prison

Award Winning Michigan DUI Lawyer

Attorney Michael B. Kelly is an award winning attorney for criminal defense and drunk driving charges. In addition to awards by peers, Michael has exceptionally high ratings from clients he’s helped throughout the years.

Professional headshot of Mike Kelly in a blue suit

Michael B. Kelly

  • 5 Star Avvo Rating (over 100 reviews)
  • Avvo Client’s choice award (multiple instances)
  • National Trial Lawyers Top 40 Under 40 Lawyer
  • SuperLawyers ‘Rising Stars’ award (2019, 2020)
  • ICLE Partner

Michael is focused on criminal defense as his sole legal practice area and further specializes in drunk driving offenses. In addition to being a skilled attorney for criminal defense, Michael has access to a multitude of legal resources at his widely respected law firm of Kelly & Kelly P.C.

Schedule A Consultation Today

Kelly & Kelly is a Northville based law firm that represents clients all over Michigan. Our law firm has proudly served clients in Wayne County, Oakland County, and other locations for over 30 years. Throughout this time, our legal practice has obtained irreplaceable experience within various court systems across the state.

If you, or someone you know was arrested or is being charged with a drunk driving offense in Michigan, Kelly & Kelly can provide you with the highest quality of representation and legal defense. Call or send us an email and let us start reviewing your case today. For urgent arrests or inquiries outside business hours hours, call our 24 hour line 248-733-5021