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Understanding what drunk driving penalties are in Michigan

Thousands of people are killed or permanently disabled every year as the result of accidents involving drivers under the influence of drugs or alcohol. That being said, in Michigan, it is illegal to drive if you are under the influence of illegal or prescription drugs.

The state defines any blood alcohol level that is 0.08 or above to be enough to charge you with DUI. If you are under 21, your blood alcohol level cannot be 0.02 or higher.

In Michigan, it is also illegal for anyone under 21, unless they are accompanied by someone who is 21 or older, to transport alcohol. If you are pulled over and under the age of 21, you can be charged with a misdemeanor for alcohol in your car; no matter whether you are driving or parked.

If detained by police for a violation of the sort, there are two different offenses you can be charged with depending on the circumstances, either Operating While Visibly Impaired or Operating While Intoxicated. The latter refers a driver's lack of visual clarity due to drugs or alcohol.

There are three different categories of OWI. The first two types include either those over 21 and above the legal limit or those under 21 operating a vehicle with any bodily alcohol content. The final one includes those operating a vehicle where any presence of a schedule I drug or cocaine is present, also known as an OWPD.

Under Michigan state law, a DUI case must be processed through the legal system within 77 days of an arrest. Those convicted face a mandatory six-month suspension, or a year in cases in which the defendant was found to have a blood alcohol level of 0.17 or higher, even for first time offenders.

In each case, certain circumstances allow some defendants to qualify for a restricted license 30-45 days into their suspension. That being said, any reinstatement would require the installation of an ignition interlock device on any vehicle a person owns or plans to operate.

Second time offenders can face up to one year in jail. A person convicted of DUI for a third time faces a lifetime driving ban and a felony conviction as well as fines and fees as high as $2,000.

If you have been charged with operating a vehicle either under the influence of drugs or alcohol, a Michigan DUI attorney can provide advice and guidance in your legal matter.

Source: State of Michigan Secretary of State, "Substance abuse and driving," accessed Feb. 17, 2017

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