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Drunk Driving Injury Or Death

By Daniel T. Geherin

OWI Causing Serious Injury

On rare occasions, drivers who are intoxicated or impaired by alcohol/controlled substances are involved in accidents in which other drivers or pedestrians are seriously injured. In Michigan, OWI Causing Serious Bodily Injury means that a person is driving with an unlawful blood alcohol level or while intoxicated or impaired from alcohol or controlled substances, and causes a “substantial bodily injury” to another person.

OWI Causing Serious Bodily Injury is a felony punishable by up to 5 years in State Prison.  And, it carries with it a mandatory revocation of a person’s license. 

These charges are often defended on three fronts:  One, challenging whether the underlying injury is “severe” enough to meet the statutory definition; two, litigating the causation aspect of the case (i.e., did the injured party contribute to or even cause his own injury by contributory negligence); and three, defending the underlying OWI. 

To state the obvious, a person charged with OWI Causing Serious Bodily Injury is in grave danger of long-term incarceration and license deprivation, so seeking an experienced attorney who has fought and won these types of battles is highly advisable. 

OWI Causing Death

In Michigan, if death results from an OWI, the end result typically is a 15-year maximum felony offense called “OWI Resulting in Death.” This means that a person who is driving with an unlawful blood alcohol level, or while impaired by alcohol/controlled substance, or with the presence of certain controlled substances, and hits and kills a pedestrian, a passenger, or another driver will face certain imprisonment upon a conviction for this offense.   And, obviously, the person will face lengthy license revocation. 

In some instances, prosecutors charge OWI drivers who kill with 2nd Degree Murder or Manslaughter.  In these instances, drivers face upwards of life in prison.  In either instance (OWI Resulting in Death or Murder/Manslaughter), similar defenses exist as do for OWI Serious Injury:  Trial; Pretrial litigation/suppression motions; and Challenges to the “causation” element when the victim(s) might have contributed to the accident. 

How Does Protocol And How Do These Serious Types Of OWI Cases Differ From “Regular OWI” Cases In Michigan?

Aside from the gravely serious consequences both in the courtroom and to a driver’s license, OWI Causing Serious Injury and OWI Resulting in Death have one major procedural difference from their misdemeanor counterparts. When prosecuting attorneys charge these two felony offenses, they generally do so by a warrant. This means that a person will be subject to an arrest and detention before Arraignment.  And, often bonds are denied or set a very high level for these offenses. In misdemeanor OWI cases, personal recognizance bonds are common, and typically a person is sent a letter to come to court, in lieu of an actual arrest warrant. 

As such, clients facing the most serious of OWI charges—Injury, Death, Murder—need the most experienced and dedicated drunk driving attorney in Ann Arbor on your side.  Prosecutors, police and judges do not take lightly the serious allegation of death/serious injury, regardless of a driver’s blood alcohol level or lack of criminal history.  Put bluntly, they are often hell bent on convicting these drivers and sending them to prison for a very long time.  Finding a defense attorney willing to stand and fight against that backdrop is perhaps the only way to level the playing field.

And, for those clients who have suffered a conviction of one of these felony offenses and have paid their debt to society, they will still need an accomplished and specialized license restoration attorney to help navigate a very difficult and unforgiving path towards ever driving again.

For more information on Drunk Driving Injury Or Death In Michigan, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (734) 263-2780 today.