Facing OWI? Call a Chelsea OWI Defense Attorney Today
By Daniel T. Geherin
OWI or DUI charges relate to operating a vehicle while intoxicated, and the penalties and fines that come with a conviction are steep. If you already have an OWI on your record, the matter is much more serious. To help ensure that your rights are well protected throughout the legal process and to significantly improve your chances of obtaining a favorable resolution, you need an experienced OWI defense attorney in Chelsea in your corner.
Operating a Vehicle while Intoxicated
The State of Michigan employs the charge of operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated (OWI) rather than the more familiar DUI or driving under the influence. The legal effect, however, remains the same. OWI refers to drunk driving or getting behind the wheel with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) that is over the legal limit of .08 percent.
The penalties associated with DUI convictions are harsh and include:
OWI First Offense
While jail time is often avoided for a first offense, a conviction can carry up to 93 days in jail, as well as fines of from $100 to $500. There are also court costs to consider, and up to 45 days of community service can be ordered. There is a driver's license suspension of 30 days, which is followed by 150 days of driver's license restriction. An interlock ignition device may also be required, and probation that is overseen by a probation officer can apply at any level of offense – first, second, or third.
OWI Second Offense
If you’re convicted of a second OWI offense, you’ll be looking at all the following:
● 5 days to one year in jail, with an average sentence hovering around 15 to 60 days
● Fines of from $200 to $1,000
● Court costs
● From 30 to 90 days of community service
● Driver’s license suspension of up to a year with an interlock ignition device requirement
If the second offense occurs within seven years of the first, which is called a lookback period, you’ll face driver’s license revocation, which means you’ll lose your license permanently and will have to fight to get it back.
OWI Third Offense
A third OWI conviction is a felony, and the fines and penalties include:
● A minimum sentence of 30 days in jail that can extend to up to 5 years in prison
● From 60 to 180 days of community service
For a third or subsequent offense, there is a permanent lookback period, which means you’ll face license revocation.
When the OWI Charge Is Enhanced
There are certain instances when an operating while intoxicated charge in Michigan is considered aggravated, including:
● Having a minor in the car
● Having an excessively high BAC
● Injuring someone while impaired
● Driving without insurance
● Being in possession of drugs or a firearm
Aggravated DUI charges is a serious offense, and bringing your strongest DUI defense is paramount.
If your license is revoked in the State of Michigan, the path forward is challenging. To begin, you’ll need to wait at least a year before you can do anything in relation to driver’s license restoration. Not having a driver’s license can affect your life in fundamental ways that can be difficult to overcome, including all the following:
● It can interfere with your ability to get a job or to keep the job you have.
● As a result, it can interfere with your ability to support your family.
● It interferes with your ability to transport your children where they need to be.
● It can make furthering your education more challenging.
● It can derail the plans you have for your future.
After you’ve waited a year without your license, you can seek a driver’s license restoration, which involves petitioning the Driver’s License Appeals and Assessment Division for a hearing. It will fall on you to prove that you have thoroughly complied with the regulations associated with restoration, including:
● Being assessed by a qualified alcohol evaluator
● Taking the steps proscribed in relation to sobriety, which can include treatment and ongoing counseling
● Demonstrating that your sobriety efforts have been successful by supplying letters from close family members and friends attesting to this fact
If your license is restored, it won’t be without limitations – you’ll face mandatory installation of an interlock ignition device for one year. It’s important to note that if your restoration attempt fails, you’ll need to wait at least another year before you can try again. A practiced criminal defense attorney can help you.
There Are Also Social Consequences
There are also social consequences to consider in relation to an OWI conviction that can interfere with your future plans, your goals, and your overall standing in the community. Consider the following:
● A conviction can affect your professional license and the trajectory of your career.
● A conviction can make keeping your job or obtaining a new job more difficult.
● A conviction can limit your ability to rent a place or obtain a home loan.
● A conviction means that you’re ineligible for federal student loans, and it can interfere with your ability to gain acceptance into your school of choice.
The bottom line is that your conviction is a matter of public record, which can have long-lasting and overarching implications.
Facing an OWI charge can be overwhelming, but you’re not guilty until you’ve been proven guilty, and bringing a strong defense from the onset can dramatically improve the outcome of your case. Successful defense strategies often focus on factors like the following:
Lack of Probable Cause
The police officer who arrests you must have probable cause to do so. The authorities need an articulable reason for arresting you in the first place. Probable cause often comes down to test results, but field sobriety tests in which you’re asked to perform specific tasks on the side of the road are notoriously unreliable, and chemical tests, such as the breathalyzer, are not without problems of their own. In fact, any of the following can affect your reading:
● The officer’s level of experience and skill at administering the test
● How well the device is maintained
● How carefully the device is calibrated
● How accurate the device is in the first place
Your Constitutional Rights Weren’t Upheld
Before you can be arrested or interrogated in relation to a crime, one of the involved police officers must read you your rights. These include the right to remain silent and the right to an OWI defense attorney. It's important to understand that once the police have read you your rights, it's your responsibility to invoke them by remaining silent and requesting an attorney.
An Experienced OWI Defense Attorney Near Chelsea Is Standing By to Help
If you’re facing a DUI/OWI conviction, please consider calling the OWI defense attorney near Chelsea at Geherin Law Group. The firm specializes in criminal defense in Ann Arbor and Washtenaw County. We can be reached 24/7 at (734) 263-2780, or via email. If you’ve been arrested and charged for a DUI or are facing another charge, we offer free telephone and office consultations. We’ll happily discuss why we believe we’re the perfect firm to answer your questions and help put your life back together. For over 25 years, Attorney Daniel T. Geherin has been fighting for clients across Washtenaw County. Dan is a former prosecutor and board-certified attorney who has helped thousands of clients.