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OWI Defense Attorney Saline Michigan

By Daniel T. Geherin

If you’ve been charged with OWI, you may think the best course of action is to take whatever the state has in store for you in terms of penalties and fines and put the matter behind you. The truth is a conviction goes on your permanent record, can mean jail time, and carries serious social consequences that can directly affect your future. Just because you’ve been accused of operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated (OWI) doesn’t make you guilty of the crime. Seek the professional legal guidance of an experienced OWI defense attorney in Saline today.

OWI Charges and Penalties in Saline, Michigan 

OWI stands for operating while intoxicated, and it’s the legal term used in the State of Michigan for drunk driving. Many people are more used to the terms driving while intoxicated (DWI) and driving under the influence (DUI), and they continue to use them interchangeably with OWI. The legalities in the State of Michigan regarding these terms, do not vary. 

If your blood alcohol content or blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is over the legal limit of .08 percent behind the wheel, you can be charged with OWI. The same is true if your ability to navigate your vehicle safely is affected – even if you’re not over the limit.

OWI charges are criminal charges, and the OWI penalties imposed in the State of Michigan include all the following:

●      A first offense brings up to 93 days in jail – although jail time is often avoided – this often includes fines of $100-$500 and up to 45 days of community service. A motorist’s driver’s license can also be suspended for 30 days with up to 150 days of restricted license to follow. Vehicle immobilization and the potential for an ignition interlock device is left to the discretion of the court.

●      A second offense carries jail time of from 5 days to a year, but the average sentence is generally from 15 to 60 days. Penalties include fines of from $200 to $1,000 and from 30 to 90 days of community service. A second offense within seven years of the first can lead to a driver’s license revocation, which requires a formal driver’s license restoration appeal to reinstate.  

●      A third offense is a felony, which can carry up to 5 years in prison with a minimum sentence of 30 days in jail. From 60 to 180 days of community service also applies. If  this offense happens within seven years of a prior conviction, it can result in license revocation, which can have far-reaching consequences.

OWI Defense Strategies

Many who face OWI charges are under the mistaken belief that there’s no way to fight the state’s case – even when they’re convinced that they weren’t impaired behind the wheel in the first place. The state’s case is likely far less ironclad than they would like you to believe. There are a range of powerful OWI defense strategies that may apply to your case. 

Field Sobriety Tests

The sobriety tests that officers have traditionally performed on the side of the road are loosely based on science, but their accuracy is up for serious debate. For example, some people have crippling test anxiety in the best of times – not to mention when they’re required to perform acrobatics on the side of the road or to recite something under the scrutiny of a police officer. 

Chemical Tests

While chemical tests, such as the breathalyzer that’s commonly used at stops – as well as the urine and blood tests that are performed back at the station – tend to be more accurate, they’re not without concerns of their own. These factors can all affect the outcome of these tests:

●      The officer’s level of experience administering the test in question.

●      How well maintained and calibrated the testing equipment is.

●      The testing chemicals’ level of freshness.

●      The chain of custody regarding the sample.

●      Whether or not the sample was stored correctly throughout its journey.

●      How careful the testing lab's protocols are in relation to storage, cross-contamination, careful identification, and beyond.

There’s a lot of room for things to go awry when it comes to chemical test results related to OWI charges. And because the Saline Police Department and the Michigan State Police take the matter exceptionally seriously, you should do the same. 

Additional Defense Strategies

If you’ve been charged with OWI, there are additional OWI defense strategies to consider. To begin, the police must have reasonable suspicion regarding criminal activity to stop you in the first place. While this isn’t a difficult barrier to meet, the police need probable cause to arrest you, and for this, the bar is considerably higher. Absent probable cause, the state’s case could fall apart. 

The authorities are also required to honor your constitutional rights to remain silent and to have an attorney, and you should consider each of these a top priority. With trusted legal counsel in your corner, your options in relation to defense strategies can open up considerably. Your attorney will fiercely advocate for your case's optimal outcome, which can include negotiating any of the following:

●      Having your case dropped altogether due to lack of evidence.

●      Having the charge against you lessened through an OWI plea bargain.

●      Having the sentence you face decreased.

Your attorney will also serve as solid OWI trial representation if your case goes to court, which is sometimes advised.  

OWI Expungements

If the OWI offense was your first and didn’t involve someone else being seriously injured or killed, an application for expungement can be filed five years after your probationary period has ended. OWI expungements erase first convictions from permanent records, which can have profound significance for the futures of those affected. 

While the Expungement process is complex, a skilled OWI defense attorney in Saline has the experience and legal insight to help. Having an OWI on your record can interfere with your life in ways you may not have considered, which can make an expungement invaluable. Consider the following social consequences of an OWI:

●      Difficulty obtaining a job.

●      Difficulty getting a home loan or renting an apartment or house.

●      The inability to obtain a federal student loan, which can derail your higher education goals.

●      A significant decrease in social standing overall.

Consult an Experienced OWI Defense Attorney in Saline about Your Case 

Daniel T. Geherin, the founding and principal attorney at Geherin Law Group near Saline, Michigan, is one of only a few esteemed attorneys in the state who are board-certified in criminal law, and his impressive background informs every case we take on. To learn more about what we can do to help you in the face of an OWI charge, please don’t put off submitting a contact form or call us at 734-263-2780 today.