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Dexter OWI Defense Attorneys

By Daniel T. Geherin

While most of us are used to the term DWI – or driving while intoxicated – Michigan law calls it OWI – or operating a vehicle while intoxicated. Regardless of what the charge is called, it remains a serious charge, and the State of Michigan implements harsh penalties and fines for convictions. While the consequences of a first conviction are severe, they’re far more so for a second. In addition, if you injure someone while you’re driving drunk, it is a very serious matter.

If you’re facing an OWI charge – whether a first or a second – you shouldn’t delay obtaining the skilled legal representation of an experienced OWI defense attorney in Dexter. 

An OWI Second Offense Michigan 

Operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated (OWI) refers to having a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) that exceeds the legal limit of .08 percent. It’s important to note that, if the police believe your driving is impaired, you can be charged with drunk driving even if you test below the legal limit.  

For a first offense OWI in Michigan, all the following apply:

●      While a conviction can carry up to 93 days in jail, jail sentences are often avoided. 

●      Fines from $100 to $500 can apply. 

●      You can be assigned community service for up to 45 days.

●      Your driver’s license can be subject to OWI license suspension for up to 30 days – with up to 150 days of restriction to follow. 

●      Whether or not an ignition interlock device is required is left to the court’s discretion. 

For a DUI second offense, the potential penalties are significantly enhanced and include all the following:

●      If you’re convicted of an OWI second offense, you’ll face jail time of from 5 days to 1 year – with the average sentence stretching from 15 to 60 days.

●      You’ll be hit with fines of from $200 to $1,000.

●      OWI second offense penalties include a community service requirement that can range from 30 to 90 days. 

●      You’ll lose your license for at least a full year, and if the charge is your second in a 7-year period, your license can be permanently revoked. Reinstating your right to drive requires prevailing with a formal driver’s license restoration case through the Secretary of State.  

OWI consequences for a second charge take things to the next level, and being well prepared is advised.

If Your License Is Revoked 

If the second-offense drunk driving conviction in Michigan leaves you with a revoked license, you’ll have to wait a year before you can address the matter of getting your driving privileges back. Driving tends to play a pivotal role in our lives, including allowing us to earn a living and support our families. A loss of this magnitude can reverberate into your future in ways you might not anticipate. 

Once the first year has passed, you can petition the Driver’s License Appeals and Assessment Division for a hearing to reinstate your license. The burden of proof lies with you, and you’ll need to demonstrate that you’ve carefully complied with all the requirements for restoration, including:

●      Having an alcohol assessment that is performed by a qualified evaluator

●      Having letters from close friends and family members testifying to your sobriety efforts

If you’re awarded another chance, you’ll be required to install an interlock ignition device on your car for a one-year period. If your first attempt to regain your license isn’t successful, you’ll have to wait another year before you can try again.  

Further Implications of a Second OWI Conviction

There are additional considerations to keep in mind in the face of second OWI charges Michigan, including:

●      The amount you pay for car insurance can skyrocket and may become cost prohibitive.

●      A second offense can also affect some life insurance policies. 

●      With a second offense under your belt, it can be very difficult to get a new job or even to keep the job you have. 

●      After a second conviction, you could lose your professional licensure. 

●      A second offense also means you’re ineligible for federal student loans and can have additional negative consequences in relation to higher education.

DUI laws in Michigan also ensure that only first offenses qualify for OWI expungement.   

OWI Sobriety Tests 

In order to pull you over in the first place, the police need to have a reasonable suspicion that you were engaged in a crime, such as a traffic offense. This is a low bar, and traffic stops can be difficult to prove unlawful. To charge you with OWI, the police need to have probable cause, which means they have reason to believe that you were engaged in a crime.

Field Sobriety Tests

Police often turn to sobriety tests to gain probable cause, and it’s important to understand that motorists give implied consent to be tested when they get behind the wheel. Field sobriety tests are the performance requirements that police implement on the side of the road, and their efficacy is questionable at best. The officer’s experience and ability to interpret results are of primary importance, but even when there isn’t an issue with either, the results are often suspect.  

Chemical Sobriety Tests

Chemical sobriety tests, such as blood, urine, and breath tests are somewhat more reliable, but they’re far from foolproof. Variables that often skew the results include:

●      An officer who lacks the experience to perform the test in question

●      A machine that is poorly maintained or incorrectly calibrated

●      Inadequate storage protocols

●      A break in the chain of custody

●      Incorrectly labeled samples

While you may feel compelled to engage in sobriety tests, you aren’t required to accept the results without question. 

Refusal of a Sobriety Test

While you have the legal right to refuse a breathalyzer, doing so leads to the following harsh consequences:

●      It automatically adds 6 points to your license, which can dramatically increase your car insurance premiums and can make it more difficult to reinstate your license. 

●      Your license will automatically be suspended for a year. 

Michigan Drunk driving laws are harsh, and proceeding with caution is an excellent plan.

What to Do if You’re Pulled Over

If you’re pulled over under suspicion of OWI in Michigan, there are several steps you can take to help yourself and your case:

●      Pull over as soon as you can, and do so safely.

●      Be unfailingly polite to the police.

●      Rather than being candid, invoke your right to remain silent in the face of an interrogation. 

●      Remain calm if you’re arrested – you’ll get your chance to obtain legal representation and protect your rights.

Turn to an Experienced OWI Defense Attorney in Dexter

At Geherin Law Group, it’s always personal. OWI defense atttorney Daniel T. Geherin and his team of Ann Arbor-based lawyers and paralegals are committed to bringing you personal justice. We stand ready to assist you if you’ve been charged with a crime such as DUI/OWI in Washtenaw County, want to restore your driving privileges, or wish to bring a wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of a loved one. Dan has fought tirelessly for thousands of clients and has over 25 years of experience. Please contact us for a free consultation at (734) 263-2780 or by email at