The Criminal Offenses
There are now four distinct drunk driving offenses in Michigan:
- operating while intoxicated (OWI)
- operating while visibly impaired (OWVI)
- “super drunk” driving with an alcohol content of .17 or more,
- “zero tolerance”, which applies to under 21 year old drivers with “any bodily alcohol content”
With an effective date of October 31, 2010, the law was amended adds a new definition of drunk driving applicable to drivers with a bodily alcohol content (BAC) of 0.17 or more grams of alcohol per 100 milliliters of blood, per 210 liters of breath, or per 67 milliliters of urine. This “super drunk driving” offense can result in severe restrictions to your future driving. Call to talk to attorney Thomas Baynton about your case today.
There are also enhanced charges and penalties for causing serious injury or death if operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or if a person’s ability to operate the vehicle is impaired by alcohol or drugs.
These are criminal offenses, therefore, to successfully prosecute an OWI case, the prosecuting attorney or city attorney must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the drunk driver was
- Operating a motor vehicle,
- While under the influence of alcohol, controlled substances or both, and
- Alcohol materially or substantially affected operating the motor vehicle.
- A drunk driver’s bodily alcohol content (BAC) was greater than .08%,
- While he was operating his motor vehicle.
This method is generally easier to prove to gain a conviction.
OWVI is the easiest of the three to prove. Here, the prosecutor or city attorney must prove, again beyond a reasonable doubt, that the drunk driver was a) operating a vehicle, b) while alcohol visibly weakened or reduced his ability to operate his motor vehicle.
These criminal offenses can apply to adults or minors. In Michigan, although we become adults at age 18, the liquor control laws define an adult as someone 21 years of age or older. So, Michigan enacted the “zero tolerance” law for people under the age of 21. Minors may not operate a motor vehicle with any bodily alcohol content.
In each of the criminal offenses above the burden of proof on the prosecution is “beyond a reasonable doubt.” “beyond a reasonable doubt” is the highest such duty in all law suits, because criminal cases involve the potential deprivation of liberty. That burden is necessary to ensure as much as possible that the criminally accused are not convicted and incarcerated wrongly. It is said that it is better for 100 men go free than 1 man be wrongly convicted.
In any event, a conviction or plea of guilty of OWI, means a maximum sentence of up to $500.00 in fines plus the costs of prosecution, up to 93 days in jail and up to 45 days of community service. A second dui, OWI or OWVI in Michigan increases the fines plus costs up to $1,000.00, and imprisonment up to 1 year in jail.
A conviction or guilty plea to OWVI will result in a maximum sentence up to $300.00 in fines plus costs, up to 93 days in jail and up to 45 days of community service.
A third conviction for drunk driving may result in a felony charge punishable by 1 to 5 years imprisonment, with a minimum of 30 days in jail, and a fine of up to $5,000.00.
On top of the above, a convicted person’s license will be suspended or revoked for varying lengths of time depending on the circumstances. A restricted license may be available tol allow the convicted person to drive to, from and during work, to alcohol treatment, school, community service or probation. Call for more information regarding license sanctions.
One of the toughest sanctions next to time in jail is when the sentencing judge confiscates the vehicle the drunk driver operated. The vehicle does not have to belong to the operator-it can be anyone else’s vehicle. It doesn’t matter if the vehicle is necessary for the other members of the drunk driver’s family.
Calculating bodily alcohol content (BAC)
Calculating the bodily alcohol content (BAC) is not an exact science. It is also an art in the hands of those collecting and testing bodily specimens for alcohol. A 12-ounce can of beer or shot of whiskey may result in a different BAC depending on a person’s gender, race, height, weight, metabolic rate, and medical history, among other things