If you face DUI (also called OWI) charges in Michigan, the last thing you should do is simply give up and plead guilty. Some people mistakenly believe they do not need to take DUI charges very seriously. Alternatively, many people are unaware of effective defenses that may help, and therefore believe their cases are hopeless.
These beliefs can end up costing them. A DUI conviction can have a severe effect on your future, so fight the charges for these three reasons.
1. Even first-time penalties can affect your life
Even a first-time DUI can result in criminal penalties that may include fines and fees adding up to over $1,000, up to three months of jail or up to 360 hours of community service. These penalties can put a severe strain on your finances and even cause you to lose your job. In addition, you will have points on your record, as well as a license suspension of 30 days. Aggravating factors such as a BAC over 0.17 can trigger additional penalties.
2. A criminal record can affect your future
Unfortunately, a DUI conviction can entail more than just the official criminal penalty. Having a criminal record can affect your future opportunities to obtain housing, employment and advanced education. If you are in a licensed profession, such as health care, you may face disciplinary hearings before the regulatory boards and possible license suspension or revocation.
3. The evidence against you may be weaker than you think
One common reason people do not want to fight a DUI is thinking prosecutors have too much evidence. Typically, prosecutors in DUI cases rely on the testimony of the arresting officers and the results of chemical tests. Not all officers know how to correctly identify signs of impairment. In some cases, officers may conduct illegal searches or otherwise fail to follow rules during the stop.
Chemical testing can also yield incorrect results. This can happen due to operator error or equipment malfunction. In particular, portable units must be properly calibrated. Some types of medical conditions, as well as other factors, may also create false positives for some people. Experienced defense attorneys know these types of evidence are often not as strong as they seem and can build a strong defense.